May long weekend — Harrison Trail work

Our Harrison Hut is our least-accessible hut, but we are working on that. As the first work/fun trip of the year, we had some objectives. We wanted to find out if Spidery Creek was washed out, if we could even get to the trail head, if we could follow the trail, if the bridge still worked, and if there was too much snow to get to the Hut on foot. In other words, what has been happening up there since last Thanksgiving, when we had the last trip.

Because it’s so far, we needed a long weekend, and the Victoria Day long weekend was available. We designed some strategy to make the trip more successful. We left Vancouver just after noon Friday, which gave us lots of time to drive up, avoid any long-weekend traffic, do some gracious dining at One Mile in Pemberton, and still drive the dirt road in daylight. Making an extra-long weekend by driving up Friday is highly recommended, if you can do it.

When we got to Spidery Creek, we found that it had not washed out the road and was in fact behaving itself. After some navigation errors we found the road that leads to our trail head, set up the tents, and were asleep before the next carload arrived. During the night a small amount of inconsequential dampness fell from the sky.

Saturday not particularly early, we had breakfast, filled our packs with food, Clif bars, tools, damp tents and all sorts of other stuff and proceeded up the trail. A certain amount of sorting of the group occurred, so by the time the back half arrived at the logging road & hot springs turnoff, the front half was already starting up the second half of the trail, with Sam running back and forth carrying news from one end of the group to the other. The original plan was to split up and leave half the party camped at the hot springs turnoff, but when it came time to decide who was stopping and who was going up, nobody wanted to stop, so we all headed for the Hut at various speeds. We did dump the tents and spare food at the turnoff, though.

The second half of the trail has a lot of side-hill and interesting bits, and way more snow, of course. We crossed Pika Creek mostly without incident, and hauled ourselves up the other side of the Pika Creek valley, over a few ridges, all the while wondering, and hoping, that the two bridges across Barr Creek would be there and in good shape. Well, they were both useable but one was broken. After the excitement of the bridges, it was just a “Grouse Grind + snow”, and we arrived at the Hut. We were just making ourselves comfortable when Bram and Rebecca arrived (on skis!). They got toughness points, as they were planning to be up for a couple of days. We took a few measurements, put some effort into drying our boots, and went to sleep. Some snoring occurred, as usual.

Sunday the plan was to hike back to the tent cache, then down to the hot springs, then back to the tents after we had checked the hot springs. That is pretty well what we did, except we left Neil, Sam, and Mirko up at the hut as they had plans. The rest of us did varying amounts of trail work, then all showed up at the hot springs. Apparently a party including the legendary Mark Grist was spending the night at the hot springs, but they were not present when we arrived, so we (Carla, Anne, moi) briefly had the whole place to ourselves until others started trickling in. The hot springs were gorgeous but I’ll leave that to others to describe. Back at the tents we ate as much as we could so we wouldn’t need to carry so much out. During the night it rained 4mm into my pot.

Monday morning we got up, again not particularly early, packed up, and just as we started on the trail, Sam arrived, having run all the way from the Hut in under 2 hours. Sam was having a good day and claimed he wanted to run all the way to Pemberton, but he only ran about 10 km of the Lillooet South road before he accepted a ride. The rest of us trickled back to the cars around 1:30 pm and headed to Pemberton for some expensive restaurant food. Ride home was mostly uneventful.

What we learned. Road is good, 4wd at the end. Lower trail is good. Couple big logs need sawing. Snow is late this year. Hot springs are good though somebody has drained my favourite pool; we had to use my #2 pool. Upper trail needs work, with lots of side-hill, places where you could fall off it with consequences. Re-bar, logs can be used to improve it a lot. The bridge that we put in last summer, needs work. We didn’t find the chain which was helicoptered up in Feb; as there’s still 2m of snow around the Hut, we’ll probably find the chain after the snow melts. We need to use chain in a few spots as the old climbing ropes are pretty well eaten by chipmunks or something. With all the snow around, we crossed streams on snow bridges a lot, and usually somebody would collapse the bridge before we were all across. Feet got damp. The creek beside the Hut was totally crossable on a snow bridge. We found two caches of re-bar left from last fall, and marked them with GPS waypoints. Some of our beautiful orange markers have apparently been attacked by some creature and the orange stuff removed, leaving mostly just the aluminium backing. In some instances the markers were nailed to dead trees which have now fallen over. We should preferably nail to live trees.

Conclusions: It would be good if there are more trips up there on long weekends this summer, either naturally occurring long weekends or long weekends we make ourselves. There will be a week-long trip up there towards the end of August to put corrugated sheet steel on the hut, and to build the prefab outhouse. If you are at all handy with tools and you can spare a week, give it some thought. It’s gorgeous up there.

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