Hope Mountain Centre program director Kelly Pearce recently took a hike to Tulameen.
He left Hope on July 31 with 13 others and hiked the 74-kilometre Hudson’s Bay Company Heritage Trail, arriving eight days later.
“It felt wonderful,” said Pearce. “We came to the Tulameen River and we had to take our boots off and walk across the river to the end of the trail. There’s a big kiosk there beside the road where you can park and people were waiting for us and someone had an ice-cold watermelon that they spliced for us.
“We all really enjoyed this watermelon when we got to the other side.”
The mostly self-supported hike took the hikers of varying abilities up the Northern Cascades Mountains.
Each of them had to carry 40-50 pounds on their backs, while ascending and descending thousands of metres in elevation changes.
“We did have one vehicle meet us at the halfway point, and resupply us on day four. [Thus, hikers] only had to carry four days’ of food and fuel for their stoves,” said Pearce.
They started 10 kilometres east of Hope, at the Peers Creek Trailhead, with an elevation of 330 metres. Immediately, they started climbing up 1,000 metres to reach Manson’s Ridge.
Pearce also names Mount Davis, Tulameen Plateau and Mount Olivine as the most challenging parts because of the significant elevation change involved.
“I think the hardest part was climbing up Mount Davis to Deer Camp,” said Pearce. “We had to climb up, I think it was about, 700 metres toward at the end of the day where we already travelled about nine kilometres.
“By the time we got up to camp, everybody was really, really tired. But then we got a beautiful sunset up there so there were wonderful rewards too for those hard days.”
At the end of the day, the group would stay at one of the 10 campsites along the route.
However, don’t expect a warm shower at the end of the day.
“There are some creeks with pools and some river crossing where you could submerge yourself, and there is one lake, and we all had a swim in the lake, when we got to Lodestone Lake on the (Tulameen) Plateau,” said Pearce.
Having many creeks and sources of water proved useful for the hikers, as they drank a lot of water.
“We filtered our water to be safe,” said Pearce.
With those 74 kilometres hiked, many in the group checked off a major undertaking on their bucket list.
“This trail has been on those people’s list for a couple of years now. They wanted to hike the whole thing. It’s a big achievement for sure,” said Pearce.
With hindsight, Pearce’s top tip for people attempting this trail would be to give it “a generous amount of time.”
His eight-day timeline also gave his group the time to do side trips and learn more about the trail’s history.
“I wouldn’t recommend that anybody do it in less than seven days unless you’re in top physical condition, otherwise you’re just stressing yourself, I think, too much, and pushing yourself too hard and missing out on some of the beauty of the trail,” said Pearce.
Pearce noted that he has seen an uptick of interest in the trail and he also said there is talk of having a single-day run called the HBC 50.
“It’s 74 kilometres which is close to 50 miles, so we’ll probably promote it as a 50 mile race,” said Pearce. “It’s just an idea, at this point, but it’s a very realistic one that will likely take shape for next year.”
The most gruelling part of that race, Pearce notes, is that runners only fuel themselves with gel packs and run in the dark with headlamps in order to finish it in one day.
“It sounds terrible, yeah, I would hate to do that,” said Pearce.
Pearce said he is in the process of researching what permits he needs to host the race.