Harrison Hut Trip (Solar Lighting), June 2017

Executive Summary Our objectives were to:

  • Investigate the new logging road being pushed towards the hot spring

  • Check out the hot spring

  • Find out what has been happening to the road and trail to the hut (it’s VOC’s hut after all; we shouldn’t have to rely on others to tell us if it’s all there)

  • Install the solar lighting at the hut

  • Enjoy ourselves and each other

We totally achieved all objectives, and even got the crew back to Vancouver/Nanaimo in time for work Monday.

Personnel We assembled a crew that could, with a little persuasion, leave Vancouver Thursday afternoon so we could avoid logging trucks. Our crew consisted of Cassandra the leader, Roland and the Jeep, Cassandra’s sister Mel, Chelsea the solar panel carrier, and Sarah Chay. In terms of toughness, Cassandra is extremely tough, Mel and Chelsea are both very tough, while Sarah and Roland are only somewhat tough.

Food planning I thought that communal dinners would be good. We planned to dine at Pemberton Macdonald’s on Thursday and Sunday, so we needed dinners for only Friday and Saturday. Friday required only a short carry (around 5 km), so I got macaroni and cheese plus tuna, plus cookies. Saturday required more carrying so I went for the lighter weight freeze dried chicken and rice plus cookies. We included a large chocolate Religious Rabbit aka Easter Bunny. I don’t know how crucifixion and eating chocolate rabbits would both fit into a coherent religion, but I don’t understand religions very well. I brought a large apple pie. People were responsible for their own breakfasts x 3 and lunches x 3, so if the communal food wasn’t satisfactory, at least we had our own private hordes to fall back on.

This was the plan before I found out that Chelsea is a vegan and Mel is a vegetarian, so they mostly refused our communal meal offers. It was not until we were back at the car that Chelsea read the fine print and found that the apple pie I had brought was vegan-approved. I think that Mel found something else offensive about the pie; the crust had calories in it, or something. I was trying to eat granola bars for breakfast and thereby avoid having to cook in the morning, saving time and fuel. This sort of worked; I bummed a couple of instant oatmeals off Cassandra. And I bummed a cylinder of instant coffee off Mel just so I’d stay awake on the drive home and not get us killed. For lunch, Chelsea had prepared an excellent large bag of home-made hummus. Otherwise we had various Clif bars, which look like dried poo, but contain about 250 calories each, and are extremely easy. I don’t know of any other time when people have survived on Clif bars for so long. I won’t go that route again.

So, Thursday we left Vancouver around 1:30pm, picked up Mel at the ferry terminal, dined at Pemberton Macdonald’s, bought gas, etc. We drove the logging roads on the S side of the Lillooet River, encountered no logging trucks or other traffic. At the Perkins fork we continued straight because we wanted to explore the new road being pushed towards Meager Hot Spring. We encountered signs saying “Road work, keep out” Then “Keep out, falling rocks”, then “Keep out, blasting”. Finally there was a rock drill and a bunch of holes ready to be charged with dynamite.

2017NewMeagerRd

No workers; they had all gone home. No way we wanted to try walking 3 km overland to get to the hot springs from here, either along the valley bottom or the side-hill. Where the road crossed the Capricorn slide debris, I felt quite insecure and wanted to turn the jeep around. So this is not yet the new way to the hot spring. We went back to the Perkins as usual and parked at the end of the road which had been pushed in last year, saving about one km from our hike. This is not a lovely flat parking lot with toilets; it’s just a bunch of logging slash. So, to sleep, in the tents, in the rain.

Friday, pretty early, we hiked 5 km to the fork where the old road to the hot spring joins our hut trail, put up the tents, and went down the long (5 km, 500m elev) hill to the hot spring.

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We had the whole place to ourselves, which is the advantage of not being there on a weekend. Cassandra hauled down the mac’n’cheese, stove, etc so we could dine down there. Then we hiked back up the hill to the tents and went to sleep.

Saturday was somewhat tough. We had three creek crossings, any one of which could be “interesting”. (We brought a light rope that was not needed).

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We had 700m of elevation to gain, and the last 300m was walking in snow. This was all achieved eventually, but the top snowy part of the trail was extremely nasty, with way too much vertical, with narrow ridges between tree wells, steep micro-slopes, deep holes between giant rocks, etc. At the hut (hallelujah) we just wanted to sleep, but stayed awake long enough to install the solar lighting and test it out, and to cook our tasty chicken and rice.

2017HarrisonHut

Cassandra and Chelsea hiked up a ways to the partially frozen lake, avoided going swimming, and harvested plants for Cassandra’s thesis project. In the hut we left the heater on overnight hoping to dry our boots a bit.

Sunday it snowed a bit. We got up early and hiked back to the fork where we encountered VOC’s very own Liz Lund, who had been up there instructing others regarding the proper use of hot springs. We picked up our stashed tents and spare Clif bars, and eventually got back to the car. We had to choose between medicating the driver versus camping near Pemberton, and we chose to camp at the “Place of the Dead TV”, aka trail to Mt Currie. The mosquitoes were fierce, the flowers were pretty, we saw a bunny. We worshipped at the shrine to “Our Lady of the Eleven O’clock News”.

Monday we got up 5am, lead-footed it back to Vancouver to get into the Monday-morning drive-to-work thing that apparently happens in Vancouver every day. All passengers were delivered to work-meetings-ferry-loved ones on time and within budget.

Conclusions: This was more than just another hut work hike. We totally enjoyed each other. We were polite. Considerate. Sympathetic. And we still Got It All Done. We would like to thank the UBC Student Environment Center for funding the building of the Solar Lighting Project, and paying for the gas which we burned to install it.

To keep away bears, we composed a song and sang it from time to time. Here’s our song, called “Not a Good Place”:

Not a good place for Shopping Carts (repeat three times)

Who-oo-oo

Not a good place for skate boards (etc)

Wheel Chairs, Logging Trucks, anything you can think of.

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4 Responses to Harrison Hut Trip (Solar Lighting), June 2017

  1. Kasia Celler says:

    Thanks for the report, Roland!
    It sounds like a lot of fun, and nice to know that getting to the hut is almost possible snow-free!!
    Harrison is my favourite!
    I will never forget my first VOC trip which was to the Harrison hut, together with you, a few years back now… ;-)

  2. George Hill says:

    Nice work. I am surprised you got to within 3km of the hot springs on the lower road and that they are still going. I wonder if they will go all the way to the hot springs or if they will deliberately stop short.

  3. Roland Burton says:

    George >> I wonder if they will go all the way to the hot springs or if they will deliberately stop short.

    The only way this new road makes sense is if it connects to the network of logging roads that became isolated by the 2010 slide. This will surely make the hot springs more accessible, and will either result in a gate across the road, keeping out us skinny-dippers., or else the Authorities will declare the hot springs “not dangerous after all” and will start maintaining it and charging to use it, but I think that latter is extremely unlikely.

    Kasia >> a few years back now… ;-)

    Yes, good times!

  4. Roland Burton says:

    Sarah’s note:

    a trip to Harrison was something that I never thought I’d end up doing mainly because I’ve heard lots of stuff about the long hike in (and out). So it’s good that we had more time to do this! We took two days to hike in so this made it more manageable and worthwhile. Roland’s trip report covered most of everything, and it was really good seeing that familiar blue Jeep parked outside my house once again. Thank you to everyone for making this such a fun trip, ensuring that i didn’t fall into the river, and basically making a beginner backpacker feel a lot more comfortable in the backcountry! Your patience was much appreciated and made me a very happy camper. This was honestly one of the most rewarding hikes i’ve been on, especially because of the creek crossings and logs we had to crawl under (or over). One last thing to note is that there were many fallen trees, especially on the second half of the trail (after the fork). Cassandra made GPS waypoints of them and took pictures, but we believe that a work hike is in order to get rid of some of them.

    Animals seen on the trip: 1 deer, 1 hare (excluding the religious rabbit), couple of squirrels, 1 marmot, 1 dog (domesticated)

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