Harrison Hut route

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Organizers

At present the work has generally been organized by: Ben Singleton-Polster and Christian Veenstra at present but others are welcome to help out if they are really keen. Numerous people have helped out with the various recon missions, and even more with the various brushing trips.

Present Status

Note, before heading up to the hut, you may wish to [check and see] if the FSR has been closed due to landslide hazard. This sometimes happens during very hot periods. Our trail is accessed via the Lillooet South FSR, although Upper Lillooet / Meager Creek may also be of interest to you, especially if you were considering visiting other places in the Meager Creek valley.

HarrisonSketch.jpg

Above is a sketch of the route, here is a link to a (notated) google map containing the latest and greatest information at present [1]. You may also download GPS-compatible data from the google map. As of mid 2014 hiking season the route is complete, but it is not yet a trail. Footbed work continues, and markers are a bit sparse dropping down toward Barr Creek and beyond to the hut. But it's brushed out, and there are sufficient markers that you should be able to find the way if you're careful.

Here is a slightly outdated PDF map, if somebody takes the time to make a new one with the new google map above that would be great!File:Harrison access legal size.pdf

Previous work

Flagging July 28-29, 2012

Google Map of the work done to date
We flagged the trail all the way to where it rejoins the road which is believed to be the most tricky spot for flagging a trail as there were a number of rocky bluffs that would have caused us to gain needless elevation. The current flagged route follows nicely the contours and avoids significant excess elevation gain/loss. The trail clearing crew did good work brushing out the first part of the trail and the way is a lot easier to walk for the first approximately 2 km. This section now takes people about 45 minutes to walk as opposed to 2 hours. There has been interest and offers for help from other people in the outdoor community and this is a good sign that others would be keen to use the trail and that people are hungry for access into the area.

Where to go from here: Ben will break up the sections into what needs to be done and the relative amount of work that Ben thinks will need to be done to accomplish building a trail in these area. 1) 2.04 km - Already bushed out. Could use more work but is ok for walking on at present. 2) 1.64 km – Old heli logged clear cut. This section will require a lot of work cutting the logging slash that has been left 3) 2.19 km – through mature timber and small heli logged clear cut to road. This section will require some work but lots of sections will be easy as the bush is not very thick thanks to the mature timber. 4) 1.21 km – Old logging road. No work required. Easy walking with views of the hot springs and landslide debris. 5) 5.3 km – Newish trail construction through mature forest then on through meadows to reach the hut. This is the old circa 1980s route to the hut and while it has not been used in a while it goes. No new flagging has been done and there are 2 creek crossings that may be tricky and require bridges. Some sections are busy and are on a sidehill. Overall moderate level of work will be required in this section.

Flagging June 16-17, 2012

Google map of the work done to date

We went and it was highly successful. Weather was a bit rainy until Sunday afternoon when the sun broke out and dried our clothes. We fully flagged about 1/3 of the trail and it is ready for bushing out and have scouted the most tricky sections past where we fully flagged to. The trail goes past a sweet lookout where you can see up Capricorn creek and all the destruction that the landslide caused. There was 2 big rocks that had recently fallen onto the road which stopped us about 3-4km before the trail head. Brendan made a great chili which we all ate on sat night.

April 4, 2012 Trail Application submitted

Ben submitted a trail application to Alistair McCrone Alistair McCrone B.Sc. [email protected] District Recreation Officer Squamish Forest District 604-898-2125

Details of the application can be found here:
File:Proposed Harrison Hut Trail on NTS Map.pdf
File:VOC Harrison Hut Trail Application.pdf
File:FMCBC Letter Re harrison trail.pdf

August 13-14, 2011 Reconnaissance

Message board thread Harrison_Hut_Trail_Recconaissance_Round_2.

Investigate future trail options as shown on this google map

  • Orange lines are existing roads
  • Green lines need exploration
  • Blue lines have already been explored and are known to be passable by fit and experienced parties.

It was generally determined that the high route is the way to go considering that Squamish Mills has fixed the bridge over Spidery creek and the road up to about 900m is 4wd HC or better depending on where Squamish Mills is logging.

June 18-19, 2011 Reconnaissance

A weekend was spent looking into the general areas shown on this PDF.

The plan was to investigate the possible trail locations to determine the best route along the south side. It appears that the best route to the Lillooet and Meager junction is across the debris flow gravel bars.

wiki page
message board thread
Trip Agenda

May 31, 2011 Discussion with Norbert Greinarcher (Squamish Recreation Officer)

They are not planning on rebuilding the road on the north side however are thinking of something on the south side. The options are expensive and timber prices are low so they have no immediate plans. He said it would probably 5-6 years before any real thought of putting in a road so we are free to go for it. Apparently, Inergex who are proposing a hydro project are looking for ways to increase their public image and would possibly fund the trail. We might say that hiking below power lines is not fun but none the less it is worth noting that they were successful in the power call and the lines would run nearby. Norbert is Retiring and Paul Tataryn is going to take over in the interim until they can fill the position.

[2]

[3]

File:Meager Slide Aug6 2010 Area Base Map.pdf

The second largest landslide in Canadian history knocked out the road on the North side of Meager creek... so now we need to build a trail around that too. See map.

Several scouting missions have gone through the area.

Harrison_Hut_Trail_Recconaissance_June_2011 resulted in this GPX file from Christian's GPS

Harrison_Hut_Trail_Recconaissance_Round_2 resulted in this GPX file from Christian's GPS and this kmz file from Scott's GPS (carried by Ben).

Also, Ben got in contact with Squamish Mills who was observed to have an excavator in the area - seems they will be fixing the road up to Perkins Creek, and should have the bridge over Spidery Creek fixed by the end of August. Looks like the high route will be the way to go.

Things we've figured out:

  • A "low-route" right along the base of the destruction is possible, although not particularly recommended. A fast party can make it from the cars to the hotsprings in 5.5 hours, but trailbuilding here would probably be a mistake. Someone would fall into Meager Creek for sure, which would likely be fatal.
  • A "high-route" connecting the logging roads at about 900m will work.
  • There is no "middle-route" which goes just above the slide debris - the slide debris goes within 50m or so of the high route, and trying to stay just above it is a mess - we were constantly pushed up to the bench the high route follows by the terrain.


Oct. 12 - 13, 2008

Madeleine, Meghan and Bram hiked the route on the east side of Barr Creek to the hut, it was quite bushy, but not too bad.
See TR on the VOC message board, and Meghan's photos on the VOC gallery.

Aug. 30 - Sept. 1, 2008

Annual mountaineering camp was held at Harrison Hut. A money drop box was installed, as well as some more work on screwing down the loose metal roofing was done.
See VOC message board

Aug. 2 - 3, 2008

Pete and Kristen went up to the hut and did some more flagging of the trail, built some extra cairns on the traverse below pine bump and built a set of stone steps leading up to front door.
See TR on the VOC message board

June 20 - 21, 2008

Harrison Hut Recon June 2008
Door to the hut was finally installed. Some of the loose metal roofing was fixed with screws. Trail was flagged with blue flagging tape. Some of the alder on the road was cut down.
See also the VOC message board

Nov. 10 - 13, 2007

For the first time in years, a group went to the Harrison Hut. They used the newly constructed (Oct. 2007) bridge over Meager Creek.
See TR on the VOC message board

Planning

The VOC doesn't have a permit to build a trail (yet). First it would be good to establish the best location for a trail. More recon missions seem to be required to check the suitability of the following route options:

  • Presently flagged route from the Barr Creek FSR to the bench below Pine Bump. This appears to be the best ski route. The FSR is in pretty rough shape with lots of alder and big cross-ditches on the upper two third of the road, hence the road is unsuitable for 2WD vehicles. Moderate clearance vehicles can make it about one third of the way up, whereas 4WD-HC vehicles have made it to within a couple of hundred meters of the trailhead.
  • Same general route as above, but make a steep-ish traverse around 1650m to avoid extra uphill. For both routes it should be investigated if there are options to build a bridge (unlikely) or stepping stones (maybe) to assist crossing the creek draining the Magic Carpet Glacier. This route might be better if in a whiteout and a blizzard, rather than trying to follow cairns above the treeline. Bram and Matt P. tried this route in June '08 (partly on skis, partly bushwhacking), and it's fairly bushy. Will require a lot more work to get in acceptable shape than the high route below Pine Bump. The ideal route stays just above a burned patch of forest on the slopes southwest of Barr Creek.
  • Follow the "old 1980's" route from the Meager S6 Hotsprings Creek Spur and a steep traverse northeast of Barr Creek to the hut. The road is 2WD to the end. Bram, Meghan and Madeleine walked this route in Oct. '08. This route is shorter and more direct than the presently flagged route, but takes more time because of the moderate bushwhacking (mostly while traversing the steep slopes above Barr Creek). The route crosses a couple of avalanche gullies on these steep slopes above Barr Creek. Building a trail here will involve a lot more work than on the presently flagged route. Roland walked this route a long time ago and claims to have seen signs of snowmobiles up there. While it is not a good idea to improve access for snowmobiles into the hut, it seems very unlikely that these machines can travel over such steep forested side hills. There is some old flagging along this route. If we would go ahead and build a trail here it would be good to check out the possibilities of building a bridge over Roller Coaster Creek (the one next to the hut, should be easy to build bridge; perhaps this bridge could also be used to access new outhouse in forest on E side of this creek) and check how hard the (bigger) Madhorse Creek is to cross (drains the Madhorse Glacier west of Overseer Mountain, some people call the creek draining the Magic Carpet Glacier Madhorse Creek). The latter creek was easy to cross in Oct. '08, but water levels were fairly low.
  • There has been some discussion regarding the possibility of a route to the Hut from the South Creek FSR. This would have the major advantage that we wouldn't have to drive the road to Meager, which the authorities close in the winter due to avalanches. Nobody has actually gone in this way, so we don't know if this is actually practical. On the map, it is a long way. From the Pemberton Meadows Road (generally partly plowed in winter) it appears to be about 10km + 600vm to the end of the South Creek FSR. Supposedly the last bridge over South Creek is gone. From the end of the logging road it is at least another 13km + 1300vm through the main valley and up the South Creek Glacier to the Zygo - Frozen Boot col. From here it is 4km and 600vm down to the hut on the Roller Coaster Glacier. Perhaps the north fork of South Creek to the Overseer - Madhorse col could be an option as well (especially considering the main fork is in a very steep sided valley). This could be the easiest way to the hut in winter (1 long or 2 shorter days to go in), but might be too complicated (bush + glacier crossing + length) for summer approach.

We are now in a position to apply for a permit to build a trail, and to apply to MEC for money to build it. Do we want to do this? Do we want to work on it without a permit, which is illegal and won't get us any funding, but might save a few people from getting lost.

Note that at present the hut hardly sees any use in mid-winter. Use of the hut by backcountry skiers is limited to early winter (around Nov.) and late spring (around May-June) when the Meager roads are not snow covered. Main use of any trail on the Meager side will by people on foot who go up for hiking, scrambling and/or mountaineering in the summer and early fall, this should be kept in mind when choosing a location for the trail.

Pros and cons of Meager routes

Route Length Elevation gain/drop Road Avalanche danger Creek crossing Amount of bushwhacking White-out navigation Currently marked
Southwest side - high route (Pine Bump) 6.0km 950vm/375vm 4WD-HC to 1145m, 2WD to 830m (adds 4km, 315vm) Minor on descent past pine bump Wade creek draining Magic Carpet Glacier Moderate Open terrain starting past Pine Bump Excellent route has recently been flagged
Southwest side - low route 4.5km 650vm/75vm 4WD-HC to 1145m, 2WD to 830m (adds 4km, 315vm) Minor to none Wade creek draining Magic Carpet Glacier High-ish for 1km long sidehill Minor open terrain in creek valley and up to hut Some possible very old flagging
Northeast side (1980's route) 5.2km 775vm/0vm 2WD to end (945m) Have to cross ~4 natural avi paths Cross big creek draining Madhorse Glacier and small creek next to hut High-ish for 1.8km long sidehill No open terrain Some very old flagging


Access history NOTE THIS IS NO LONGER CURRENT AND SHOULD NOT BE FOLLOWED

Access to the hut has often been, and at times still is, problematic. The Lillooet River FSR is gated in winter due to avalanche danger 28km before the Meager creek turn off (at the Hurley turnoff). If you manage to get past this gate and the road is devoid of snowpack and avalanche debris, there is another gate at the start of the Meager Creek FSR on the Lillooet River Bridge. Assuming you can get past the gates then you can drive up the Meager Creek FSR. The Meager Creek valley is surrounded by rotten and unstable volcanic rocks that can produce debris flows. In recent years these have destroyed several bridges (Capricorn Creek, Meager Creek). In December 2003 the Meager Creek bridge was taken out by such a debris flow, people who were trapped behind the bridge at the hot springs had to be flown out by helicopter, and it took until the fall of 2007 to repair the bridge. In the absence of a bridge, the Meager Creek is hard, if not impossible, to cross. It is rumored that it is possible to ford the creek about 5km upstream above the confluence of the two branches of the Meager Creek.

After 37km from the start of the Upper Lillooet River FSR, turn left onto the Meager Creek Main FSR (this is about 1km past the BC Parks Upper Lillooet River recreation site, see link). The Meager Creek Main logging road crosses the Lillooet River after a couple of hundred meters, and is gated at the bridge. The Meager Creek valley is a very geologically active area that sees frequent landslides. During times of elevated landslide risk, the gate will be locked to restrict public access. Before heading out, check the Squamish Forest District website for up to date information about closures. Closures usually occur in periods of very hot or wet weather. As of July 2009 the gate at the start of the Meager Creek Main logging road is closed between 8pm and 8am. In the morning, the hot springs caretaker unlocks and opens it so that the cars can drive through.

Continue along this road. After about 6km turn left onto the Meager Creek South Branch and cross the (new) bridge over Meager Creek. Pass the Meager hotsprings, and cross Barr (a.k.a. Madhorse) Creek. As of June 2008 the Lillooet and Meager FSRs are in 2WD condition.

Counting from the start of the Meager Creek South Branch FSR, take a left turn after about 5.3km (at 10U 465984 5599351 UTM NAD27 at 2530'/ 770m elevation). You are now on the Barr Creek FSR, an overgrown logging road that switchbacks up on the southwest side of Barr Creek. Ignore four spur roads on the right (one just before the first switchback, a second spur road between the first and second switchback, a third spur road in between the second and third switchback, and a spur road well past the third switchback). The Barr Creek logging road is in fairly rough shape and partly overgrown with alder. Currently (June 2008) the road is in 4wd (moderate clearance) condition until a good turn around between second and third switchback, expect paint-scratching alder and moderate cross-ditches until here (3120' / 950 m). To get any further you will need a serious 4WD-HC vehicle (lots of alder and big cross-ditches). Follow the Barr Creek logging road for about 4-5km to the top (northeast) corner of a large clearcut (10U 467246 5599111 UTM NAD27, 3810' / 1160m elevation). You have now reached the trailhead. Impassable cross-ditches block the road about 100-200m before the trailhead.

A newly flagged bushwack (June 2008) follows the broad ridge up on the southwest side of Barr creek to the alpine. The route is marked with blue (new) and orange (old) flagging tape, and follows, at times, steep forest with moderate underbrush. The flagged route ends at a sub-alpine bench below and east of the 6700ft bump ("pine bump"). From the start of the bench (10U 468173 5596622 UTM NAD27 at 6170' /1880m), continue southwards along the bench until it is possible to descend towards the creek draining the Magic Carpet glacier (middle of three glaciers south of the hut). Crossing the creek might require wading through ice cold water. The choice of descent point may depend on availability of snow for glissading and location of snow bridges. The most mellow route follows a longer contour around the valley.


 Hello VOC,
  
 Just a quick note to pass on that as of early morning September 19, 2009 Capricorn Creek has had a 
 significant debris flow that washed out the Meager Creek FSR used to access the Harrison Hut. The
 road is closed indefinitely. Any updates will posted on the Squamish Forest District webpage.
 Please let your members know about the washout.  
 
 Thanks,
 
 Dave
 
 Dave Southam, RPF
 Operations Manager
 Squamish Forest District
 604-898-2141