A dozen volunteers turned out, last Saturday, to clear approximately 500 metres of rock-strewn sections of the Hudson’s Bay Trail at Peers Creek. (Submitted photo)

Boulder toss readies trail for hikers

HBC trail cleared for take off

With hikers itching to get out on the trails this spring, a group of volunteers came together on May 6 to lend a hand in clearing one of the area’s newest routes, the resurrected HBC trail from Peers Creek to Tulameen.

Hope Mountain Centre for Outdoor Learning program director, Kelly Pearce said the early stages of the west end are the most unstable sections of the trail.

“The trouble is caused by an old logging road cutbank that now sheds gravel and boulders down onto the trail. There are four or five slide areas, totaling about half a kilometre of trail.

“Once we’ve cleared off the boulders, the trail is great for the whole summer, until the fall. Rain, then the freeze-thaw action loosens the rocks over the winter,” said Pearce, Monday.

Each spring, it’s time for the annual “HBC Boulder Toss.”

“We had 12 volunteers out there, pretty much all day,” said Pearce. “There were Hope Mountain Centre volunteers and at least three from the Chilliwack Outdoors Club and some from past Abbotsford.

“We have an e-mail recruitment list of about 150 and we put out the call for volunteers. We encourage anyone who wants to join in, to go to our website and let us know,” he added. “We’re always looking for new members.

“We should definitely thank Keren Hasell and Hillary Kennedy, who provided our lunch,” said Pearce. “We gathered at the rec centre at 9:00 and built our sandwiches, then headed out.”

Armed with picks, shovels and pry bars, the crew laid into the worst that winter could throw at the trail, including boulders of over 200 kilograms (or 31.5 stones for our British readers.)

While they laboured, they knew there would be more trails to clean up and renovate — but some of that will be funded and done by paid labour this summer.

“Yeah, we’re really excited for the funding we got from AdvantageHOPE,” said Pearce. “It’s somewhere in the neighbourhood of $50,000. We’re going to have a hired crew leader and two helpers.

“They’ll be working on the Mount Lincoln and Spirit Caves trails, Mount Hope Lookout, the HBC and the bike park and other needs that come up, perhaps at the Rotary Trails or Flood Falls… wherever they are needed, to make trail repairs.

“Work will be done in July and August, definitely 40-hour work weeks. Anyone who is interested should apply via our website (at hopemountain.org.)”

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Hope Mountain Centre is active with a program for Fraser-Cascade School District 78 Grade 6 students, in an annual campout in the Skagit valley.

“We’ll have in the neighborhood of 60 students, split into two groups,” said Pearce. “They’ll get one and a half days of outdoor education and for a lot of them, it’s their first-ever camping experience.

“Funding comes from the Skagit Environmental Endowment Commission. The school district is the lead organizer, Hope Mountain Centre provides the educational content — and Camp Squeah does the food,” explained Pearce. “It’s a great team effort!”