Darcy Monchak Photography: Blog https://www.darcymonchak.ca/blog en-us (C) Darcy Monchak Photography studio@darcymonchak.ca (Darcy Monchak Photography) Fri, 20 Aug 2021 20:43:00 GMT Fri, 20 Aug 2021 20:43:00 GMT https://www.darcymonchak.ca/img/s/v-12/u410698336-o999744099-50.jpg Darcy Monchak Photography: Blog https://www.darcymonchak.ca/blog 80 120 A Bridge To The Wild https://www.darcymonchak.ca/blog/2021/8/a-bridge-to-the-wild
A BRIDGE TO THE WILD

In the wilderness of British Columbia east of Mica Creek near the continental divide lies one of the most remote backcountry areas in the southern Canadian Rockies.   It is full of waterfalls, glaciers, grizzlies, and that most underrated commodity of our time - the unknown.
LRCWH-32LRCWH-32Waterfall, Clemenceau Creek area, near Hamber Prov. Park

Waterfall, Clemenceau Creek area, near Hamber Prov. Park LRCWH-14LRCWH-14Tusk Peak, Clemenceau area, between Cummins R and Hamber PP Tusk Peak, Clemenceau area, between Cummins R and Hamber PP LRCWH-48LRCWH-48Looking south from north end of Fortress Lake, Hamber Park Looking south from north end of Fortress Lake, Hamber Park

Around 1993, the BC Forest Service was involved with establishing a hiking trail linking Athabasca Pass to Fortress Lake. These were the days when the Forest Service actually did things - when they held sway over the forest industry to, when required, change their logging plans in order to balance environmental/social/economic interests and when they built and maintained hiking trails.

As the planning forester for the area at the time,  I was involved in a number of different projects, and happily was able to have a small role in this one. 

From what I remember, this was one of the most optimistic backcountry projects ever undertaken by the Recreation section in the Province.  As part of the project, the trail was cleared and marked up to Athabasca Pass, a suspension bridge was put in spanning the upper Wood River canyon, and a portion of a trail was started in an easterly direction spearheading it's way to Fortress Lake.  If completed, that trail would have made an incredible backpacking loop trip starting and ending in Jasper Park.

LRCWH-15LRCWH-15Hiker on Wood River suspension bridge, Cauldron Canyon,
Near Fortress Lake, B.C.

Hiker on Wood River suspension bridge, Cauldron Canyon, Near Fortress Lake, B.C.

 

Hiking Athabasca PassHiking Athabasca PassA group hiking towards the Committee's Punchbowl at the crest of the continental divide at Athabasca Pass, Jasper Nat'l Park.

A group hiking towards the Committee's Punchbowl at the crest of the continental divide at Athabasca Pass, Jasper Nat'l Park.

LRCWH-13LRCWH-13Trail sign, Athabasca Pass area, at border between Jasper NP and B.C.
Trail sign, Athabasca Pass area, at border between Jasper NP and B.C.

In the ensuing decade, under the direction of Recreation Officer Ken Gibson, the heritage trail up to Athabasca Pass was recce'd, cleared and GPS'd.  However, that Athabasca-Fortress grand loop was never completed, with the trail overgrown and the suspension bridge a lonely reminder to what might of been.  This area waits for the next round of visionary recreationalists to find a way to make it happen. Things like this usually go in cycles, you know.
LRCWH-16ALRCWH-16AForest Service Recreation Officer Dunc Cummings, on footbridge over the Wood River, B.C.

I was amazed a couple of years ago when I heard that Ben Brochu and Luke Schmidt, on a wild and "never doing that again" packraft trip actually found this suspension bridge and used it to cross the upper Wood River so that they could continue the hiking part of their loop trip up to Athabasca Pass. The bridge must of looked like something out of a lost world, giving them more questions than answers. It's amazing that the bridge was still there after all these years, a testament to the prowess of the trail builders like Golden residents Jim Oseychuck, Phil Hein, and others.

I'm going back, someday.  Who's coming?

If you would like to see an image of the iconic Athabasca Pass itself, check out the first image in this gallery

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studio@darcymonchak.ca (Darcy Monchak Photography) https://www.darcymonchak.ca/blog/2021/8/a-bridge-to-the-wild Thu, 19 Aug 2021 22:07:40 GMT