Phelix Creek Trail Construction

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In July 2007 the VOC received permission to build a proper trail up to the Brian Waddington Hut, to put in an established trail closer to the traditional winter ski route and avoid the old bushwack line / creek crossings of Phelix Creek thus bringing the hut back into more popular use.

Workhikes Completed

Jan 27-28 2007

A scouting mission. A small VOC party of 4 skiied up with lots of flagging tape to get the route "just right" for skiis. Fun was had skiing around the hut afterwards.

June 23-24 2007

Another scouting mission. A VOC party of 3 went up to determine which areas would be highly disastrous and wet during spring runoff conditions. It was discovered that there is alot of slide alder on the West side of Phelix creek in the open, lots of huge blowdowns everywhere in the forest, and snow remaining on the ground starting at the third major slide path.

Steve, Jordan, Eric and Scott bushwhacked up the west side looking to flag boggy and swampy areas, but mostly found a lot of snow everywhere. Streams and wet areas have been flagged with dull orange flagging tape. Note that in a few locations, there are some old orange flags that were not placed by us. These seems to have been put up in the winter, since they are quite high off the ground.

  • All mossy areas and water bars in the clearcuts are wet
  • Flat area at the north end of the south clearcut is a bog - stay high and right on old road bed.
  • 1st Slide path is generally wet. Medium slide alder + false hellebore
  • small stream 1/2 way across
  • medium stream 3/4 of way across near a large boulder. Cross this stream below the boulder. This stream then runs south along the base of the slope.
  • 2 more small streams near north edge of the slide path
  • when entering forest, keep right to avoid wet area. keep right of a large boulder, then keep right some more.
  • There is a large wet area about 75m beyond the big boulder in the forest. Best to keep right of it along a small rise between the wet area and phelix creek. This section has tons of blowdowns.
  • 2nd slide path:
    • for first part (diagonal section), keep uphill on the left side along the edge of the forest
    • Then through some trees to main path, slide becomes rocky (dry)
    • Then cross a stream high on a natural boulder bridge. Low is muddy.
    • Then go uphill along another stream. Keep left of it ad cross high.
    • Then traverse to forest entry.
  • Entering forest beyond 2nd slide, it is easier to start uphill sooner rather than later. Current flagged route traverses a steep area with big slide alder above the creek.
  • Climb up to bench is quite steep - erosion may be a problem if this grade is maintained.
  • Bench is rocky with talues, blueberry bushes and many blowdowns. A few big ones here (24")
  • 3rd (final) slide area still had snow holding down the alder.
  • Entry into forest beyond 3rd slide ok. Could go up a bit higher after entering forest if some blowndowns were cleared.
  • 2 creeks beyond - marked route goes straight up the small one then crosses the big one. No need for a bridge here, easy to cross.
  • 2 gentle switchbacks going uphill ok.
  • steep climb above these gentle switchbacks go straight up a pair of creeks. The route will need to change for this section.
  • Above steep climb, route goes gently right to the boulder field. continuous snow beyond this point made ground observations impossible.
  • 1.5m of snow at Long Lake.

July 21-22 2007

A brushing mission. 12 VOCers with 5 pruners, 6 bow saws, an axe and 2 chainsaws did a lot of work. The first two slide paths are now totally brushed out, and the first blow down area cleaned up. The third slide alder path is mostly complete, with some chainsaw work remaining. The forest after this point was intermittently cleared to the first switchback. Finally a large section of blow down / brush was cleared in between the first and second switchbacks, except for an unavoidable boggy patch.

At the hut, a temporary bridge across the creek beside the hut was fashioned by laying down blow downs carried to the site and lashing them together with steel cable. Also, the poop shoot in the outhouse was re-aligned.

Remaining work includes planning and clearing the first and second switchbacks, figuring out what to do with the boggy section, and clearing the long stretch up from the second switchback to the snow line. We must wait and see what lies under the snow after this point to make further decisions. The bridge should also be made more permanent by bolting the logs to the rock, and adding expanded steel sheet or metal lath for traction.

July 28-29 2007

A solo mission. Veenstra carried up the hardware for the bridge, and installed it. The two logs from last weekend are bolted directly to the boulders on either side of the river, and expanded metal lath added for traction. The second switchbacks were also flagged out, avoiding the wet and swampy areas.

August 4,5,6 2007

Part 2 of the brushing mission. 10 VOCers on Saturday, 12 on Sunday. We set the route on the first switchback section and the bench, then bushed it out and started brush clearing on the second switchback section where Christian had previously flagged it. Several non-VOC people found there way up the trail and helped out with the clearing work when they reached the front line. Monday saw the completion of route setting and flagging on the second switchback section and brushing out most of the second switchback section. Brushing is now completed continuously from the start of the trail to just above the upper boulder field at 1600m. The remaining trail from that point to the lake has been flagged in detail.

Oct 6-7 2007

Not really a workhike, more of a regular trip and recon, but some clipping was done. Found 5" of snow at the uncompleted section of the new trail. Also noted some minor issues with the hut (door, broom, mice). Weather was terrible, but the rain on Sunday did start to melt the pesky snow.

October 20-21 2007

A big crew of 27 made huge progress on the trail:

Clearing and Brushing complete to the east end of Long Lake despite having to shovel snow off the trail to do this work. Lower down on the trail, 9 or 10 switchback corners were graded and one built with wooden steps. A bridge and a boardwalk section were built past the 3rd avalanche path the and remaining deadfall across the entire trail was cut and cleared. Several rocks that obstructed the trail were removed from the ground, and one set of rock steps was built.

Only moderate work remains to be done - some more rebar carried in, some expanded sheet installed, and a little bit of trail treadway grading for the upper section. The trail is basically complete at this point. Signage and markers must also be installed.


November 17-18 2007

4 VOCers skied up at the hut, raising the flags above the new snow en route. This will have to be done a few times over the winter until the markers can be hung at high-snow towards the end of the season.

Of note (aside from the sweet powder at the hut) is the large amount of new deadfall knocked over the trail during the Remembrance Day weekend storms, particularly in the first forested section.

The single log bridge after the 3rd slide path area was impossible to ski across because it was too narrow. We were able to step across the stream fairly easily just uphill despite the very thin snowpack. Regardless, widening this bridge from 1 log to 3 would be ideal.

December 27 - January 1

Raised flags on the ski in to the hut on December 27th. Comments below:

  • Slide alder at the north end of the first avalanche path not cleared wide enough
  • Slide alter at the first switchback (in the second slide path) makes skiing up tricky. Need to cut it back more on the uphill side of the trail. {completed June 2008}
  • Many places in the forest could use some high branch pruning.
  • Just south of the small bridge there is a leaning snag that is difficult to ski around. It will get worse before it gets better as the snowpack gets deeper {completed June 2008}.
  • The stream crossing at the small bridge was fine, as the entire creek was bridged by snow.
  • A couple of the switchbacks are easier to negotiate on skis if you stretch them out beyond where the summer hiking trail normally goes.
  • Just before the traverse below the rock slab (below the boulder field area) the trail goes steeply between two tightly spaced trees. This is impossible to ascend on skis. However, it's possible to ski below both the big trees and traverse across snow covered boulders and regain the trail further right. However there's a smallish conifer tree in the way here that could be cut down to make things much easier. {completed June 2008}
  • On the short switchbacks beside the boulder field, there was at least one leaning tree that got in the way. In summer it's on the uphill side of the trail but the weight of snow pushed it downhill to the point where it's really in the way. A slightly wider clearing width through this section would help, with special attention to trees that are small enough to get pushed over by snow. {the worst tree was cut down June 2008}

March 8-9 2008

11 VOCers did a weekend of winter marker hanging and trimming for skiing and marker visibility.

Phelix_Creek_Trail_Workhike_4

March 15-16 2008

3 VOCers did a weekend of winter marker adjustments and fine-tuned the trimming for skiing and marker visibility. Also, Veenstra skied in with a chainsaw and cut that huge log which overhung the trail. It was easy to cut in winter, as the snow made it effectively at ground height.

June 28-29 2008

Some minor work was done en route to Christian and Line's wedding celebration at the hut:

  • All blowdowns and leaning trees were kindly chainsawed by Gerry Kollmuss. One particularly large one is still lying on the trail just above the first avalanche path, waiting to be rolled out of the way.
  • Slide alder was cut back around the switchback in the 2nd avalanche path. More slide alder work remains, especially the northernmost half of the first avalanche path. {Slide alder clearing completed October 2008}
  • A few additional logs were pinned in place on switchbacks.

Altogether the trail is in pretty good shape. Drainage seemed generally fine, with a few exceptions

  • There was lots of water running on the trail where it goes above the boulder field. {Drainage control done October 2008}
  • The uppermost switchback on the trail (right turn above the boulder field) was particularly wet. {Drainage control done October 2008}
  • The trail is a bit eroded just below the first switchback in the 2nd slide path. The switchback itself is fine, but the slope coming up out of the creek crossing is eroding.
  • Many switchbacks didn't have enough markers to clearly indicate that there is a switchback {some fixed October 2008}
  • In a few places (usually just below switchbacks), markers were placed parallel to the trail tread instead of perpendicular. {fixed October 2008}

October 18-19 2008

Phelix Creek Trail Workhike 5

  • Treadway completed from trailhead to east end of the lake.
  • Markers improved, but still lots of work to do here.
  • drainage ditches or bridges installed in all wet areas below the lake. There is one muddy section at lake level just east of the lake that could use stepping stones. All available rocks were frozen in place.
  • Slide alder sections cut back to a uniform width.
  • Moved rocks in preparation for a building a bridge footing for a bridge to avoid the swampy area near the hut.

June 13-14 2009

2009_BWH_renos_1

  • Clearcut section improved.
    • Many logs sawed and removed from the trail.
    • Two short sections of trail realigned near the far end of the clearcut to straighten out the route with less up & down.
    • stepping stones added to wet areas.
  • Drainage improvements.
    • Uphill ditches and waterbars near 1600m - this area was very muddy due to seeping ground water. Should be re-evaluated after the area is given some time to dry. If it hasn't improved, more work or an alternate solution may be needed.
    • Various other waterbars and stream redirections (several times through the creation or expansion of "sinkholes") as needed (wherever water was observed pooling on or running down the trail).
  • Bridges.
    • New log bridge just beyond final slide alder patch to cross a muddy stream.
    • Informal bridge (a few logs thrown over a stream) at ~ 1630m was submerged - a proper bridge is needed here.
    • Proposed bridge site SE of the hut was just under water. Water line corresponded to lower limit of heather on the west bank. Rocks cached here in October for the bridge footing were all just submerged. Route from the hut to the proposed bridge site was dry.
  • Log obstructing trail (~ halfway up?) axed into oblivion.
  • Pruning and trimming as needed.
  • More trail markers added to make the trail easier to follow at night.

August 1-3 2009

Phelix_Reno-2

  • Bridge built at outlet of the lake.
    • The most feasible location was found to be almost directly at the outlet of the lake. Although this area seems to be prone to log-jamming, the bridge has significant clearance above current water levels and all logs that would be found there now. Currently a significant log jam immediately upstream protects the bridge. Some thought was given to using the old lengths of steel cable to somehow secure this logjam in a more permanent way, but time prevented this from being seriously explored.
    • Most wood used was from the logjam, as many logs were not in the water at all and once cut showed little or no rot. One standing dead wood tree (the east-most deck log) was cut down and used.
      • The south base log is attached to two rocks with three rock anchors. The north base log is attached to two rocks with two rock anchors.
      • As the deck logs were being screwed down to the base logs, the last battery died. This prevented the pilot holes from extending into the base logs. Trying to screw into the base logs without pilot holes broke two screws (both screws at the north end of the bridge). After this pilot holes were drilled into the base logs in a very time consuming, manual fashion. Because of this the middle log has no screws attaching it to the base logs. The two screws at the south end of the bridge are fine and very solid. The north ones are broken such that the threads are in both the base log and the deck log, so they do somewhat hold things in place but are a little wobbly.
      • Expanded steel cheese-grater mesh put over the bridge deck. This helps make things less wobbly. The outer portion of the east deck log is somewhat rotted, so the ability of the nails to hold this mesh down permanently is questionable.
    • In summary, there is now a crossable, sturdy bridge that can still be made sturdier. Things left to do include securing the deck beams down more sturdily, adding the rope handrail, improving either end of the bridge (being a bit elevated, it is a touch tricky to get on and off of), and possibly securing the upstream logjam. It may be advisable to periodically try to clear logs from the area directly under the bridge as well.
      • Some materials were left in the bushes at the north end of the bridge, including expanded steel mesh, the old steel wire, and possibly (I'm not 100% sure on these ones; somebody else remember?] the hand-rail rope and some excess hardware (ready rod? screws?).


  • Trail around the north side of the lake begun.
    • The route was chosen such that it goes very slightly up away from the lake to avoid the swampy areas.
    • Chainsaw work was done in the wooded portions.
    • Extensive route marking done.

August 15-16 2009

Scott, Sandra, Matthew, Rueben, Claire, Ben, Frances, Adam, Megan and Steve completed a few tasks Saturday afternoon after hiking in:

  • Bridge at east end of the lake:
    • Secured center log stringer with 3/8" lag bolts
    • Added some more expanded steel sheet to bridge approach logs
    • Removed some of the logs directly below the bridge to allow more clearance under the bridge. The bridge appears like it could be raised if longer stringers were used since the banks are higher.
  • put stepping stones or logs across mud holes just east of the lake. The biggest one is quite a feat of stone work.
  • added trails markers and built cairns around the north side of the lake
  • constructed a short section of turnpike treadway across the worst part of the bog just north of the hut using available driftwood and beach sand

October 24-25 2009

Message Board Phelix_Creek_Trail_Workhike_Fall_2009

15 VOCers spent the weekend working on the trail (and carried up a fire extinguisher and out the batteries). Tasks acomplished:

  • Pruned wider and higher in tight spots
  • Dug out muddy sections just below the lake and backfilled with rocks to improve drainage
  • Turnpiked the rest of the bog section between the hut and heather spit
  • Slight re-route of route through braided streams below the waterfall through drier terrain
  • Cut treadway on all sidehills inbetween hut and bridge at lake outlet
  • Placed rocks on stream crossings
  • Improved markering beside the lake to avoid braiding of the open avalanche path sections

Remaining improvements in order of priority:

  • Adding beach sand to remaining turnpiked sections (will need to wait until the ground thaws)
  • Turnpiking the outhouse trail
  • Adding expanded steel to some of the slippery logs on the trail
  • Cutting some of the underfoot alder roots/branches in the lower slide paths
  • Replacing log bridge over huge waterbar on the approach road with new logs that aren't rotten and waiting to fall into the river

Supplies in hut:

  • Shovel and buckets for sand in vestibule
  • redi rod in the cellar
  • expanded steel in cache near bridge (could be carried to the hut, left in cellar)

October 23-24th 2010

18 VOCers worked on the trail and the outhouse roof Fall Phelix workhike 2010

  • carried up 2 new roof triangles, increasing the angle of the roof to 60 degrees
  • blowdowns cleared
  • turnpiked the second swamp
  • put beach sand down on the first swamp
  • cut back alder in the lower section and some underfoot roots
  • discovered the bridge on the outlet of Long Lake is being destroyed, probably won't last another winter
  • added handrail to a bridge

Remaining improvements

  • fix bridge at outlet of Long Lake
    • current span is 5m - this goes from big rock to big rock
    • if installing gabian cages would increase span to maybe 8m
    • if going with cables would need 20m to get to closest good trees, including tackle (double for twin cable).
  • Check that second swamp turnpikes are effective, improve if necessary
  • Beach sand second swamp
  • turnpike the outhouse trail, or something... anything...
  • add expanded steel to slippery logs. Maybe 3 sheets worth.
  • attach handrail with better than paracord.
  • Cutting some of the underfoot alder roots/branches in the lower slide paths
  • add downhill logs to some of the steeper sections on the trail
  • Replacing log bridge over huge waterbar on the approach road with new logs that aren't rotten and waiting to fall into the river

Supplies in hut:

  • Shovel and buckets for sand in vestibule
  • redi rod and 2 giant lag screws in the cellar
  • did not confirm expanded steel in cache near bridge (could be carried to the hut, left in cellar)