Saturday, 19 November 2011

Knuckleheads via E Branch - Peter and Paul

Lots of snow. Quad with tracks made it to the trailhead on E branch. 
Some deep steep snow to start. Snowshoes necessary. 

Ptarmigan in winter plumage.
Mount Diadem toward the east.
Lakes Alpha, Beta and Gamma all frozen as was the waterfall. It's an early winter!

  We saw a big bull elk, but did not get the picture. Lots of rabbit tracks.

Ice City

How do these trees tough it out?

Paul: Got easier as we went up.

Peter: Made the saddle and the smaller peak.

  Very cold. Some great sun and views.
Given the amount of snow this may be the last sub-alpine hike for a few months. 

Pictures and captions by Peter and Paul

Monday, 7 November 2011

Trail Marking as of November 8, 2011

Since the spring, we have maintained a steady pace of applying the orange fluorescent aluminum markers all along the Sunshine Coast Trail. Many thanks to all the regular markers who have gone out in all sorts of weather and advanced the schedule of installation to the point where everything is marked from Sarah Point at KM ZERO to Tin Hat Hut (KM 0 to KM 90), and somewhat intermittently from there. About 80% of the trail have now been marked and the rest will be marked by sometime in the spring of 2012 before the hiking season is in full swing.

We are aiming to place markers within sight of each other where the trail winds single track through dense forest. This is especially important during the winter when the trail is covered by snow and one could get turned around unless there were markers within sight of each other, and in both directions. Where the trail uses old roads and it's obvious, trail markers are farther apart. First time users will feel confident that they are on the right track, and winter time users of the trail will be able to follow the trail even when it is covered up and there is no indication on the ground where to go. This will take the guess work out of hiking and result in a safe experience for all hikers, as well as snowshoers.

In addition to regularly spaced marking and over 500 large wooden directional/informational signs we have added another safety feature: the brand-new markers are nailed in two fashions. Going south (from Sarah Point to Saltery Bay), they appear as square shapes, and going north (from Saltery Bay to Sarah Point) they appear as diamonds.

This allows you for easy recognition in which overall direction you are traveling. Please ignore the obvious that sometimes on certain stretches the trail winds this way or that and seems to contradict the cardinal directions. The diamonds (Northward - hence the shape of a compass needle) will let you know you are moving toward Desolation Sound (Sarah Point), while the squares would eventually take you to Saltery Bay. 

One additional safety feature are the kilometre markers which start at KM 0 at Sarah Point and end at KM 178 at Saltery Bay. The numbering is the same in both directions, so if you should require help along the way and happen to have cell phone reception you can always tell someone where you are located on the trail, by just saying the number of the KM marker you are near. Going south you are the same number of kilometres from Sarah Point, as you are going north, toward Sarah Point

If you notice any areas that do not happen to have the orange markers yet please contact us, and we will complete the work that might not yet have these standards which will help us in our endeavour to build and maintain a world class hiking trail.

There are some stretches of about 20% of the whole trail at this time that will be completed in the coming weeks and months and are expected to be complete by next summer or earlier.

There is a section around Confederation Lake Trail (KM 70 to KM 74) - not done, that might get done if the snow holds off for another week or two.

Tin Hat to Spring Lake (KM 90 to KM 98) - not done.

Carrying on southward from KM 90 on Tin Hat Mountain down the East Ridge to the ponds and on around Lewis and Spring lakes has been done only in parts. There is logging going on in that area and this section of the the SCT to Spring Lake Main at KM 6 is closed, probably until spring when the logging will be finished and we can go in there and clean up the trail where it might have been impacted by blow down. So, in the meantime hikers have to use the old Tin Hat road to get to Spring Lake Main and walk from Spring Lake KM 7 to Spring Lake KM 6, where the Sunshine Coast Trail crosses Spring Lake Main and resumes on the marked and cleaned up March Lake trail section that heads west, then south toward March Lake, through the old growth patches, and on up to Elk Lake. So not yet done from about KM 90 to KM 98.

Smith Range from KM 98 to KM 135 - done with one exception. So to recap, the SCT is marked from the crossing of Spring Lake Main at KM 6 all the way through the Smith Range down to Eagle River. There is one exception in the Smith Range on the Elk Lake Loop where the inside of the loop (west) is wide open and marked, but the outside of the loop (east) will have to be done yet. Again, if the snows hold off for a few more weeks we will clean this area out also, and mark it, but the likelihood is that this will have to be done in the spring after the snow is gone. Meanwhile the inside route provides continuous access through the whole of the Smith Range from KM 98 to KM 135.

KM 135 to KM 144 - done intermittently only.

We expect this section to be completed during the winter months because it is low elevations and may have a few snow-free days during which it is easier to do the work along Eagle River and Lois Lake shore, as far as Creek Four ravine.

From Lois Main up to Troubridge Summit down to Plutonic pole line (KM 144 to KM 166) - done.

We have finished marking the high elevation sections of the SCT on the Troubridge Massif from Lois Main at Creek Four (KM 144), to Elephant Lake (KM 153) to the cabin and summit (about KM 160) and down the other side to the Plutonic pole line above Rainy Day Lake (KM 166). During the winter months, weather permitting, we will mark the remaining lower elevation sections down past Rainy Day Lake to Saltery Bay either via Fairview Bay Trail or Saltery Bay Trail.

The above sections that are shown as not yet marked with the new standard 2 inch orange metal markers do still have the old marking which is a little harder to follow, but which is in place.

Enjoy the Sunshine Coast Trail in good spirits and good health and let us know what you think about it, the marking and the new huts.