So, what were we trying to accomplish? The Harrison Trail passes through two clear cuts, which were heli-logged. This part of the trail involves a lot of walking on logs. We were trying to make the logs less slippery by installing “traction Mesh”. We were Kasia, Paul, Leanne and myself. None of us had ever installed traction mesh, but we had all been outdoors before, even in the rain.
We decided to car camp, spurning the relative hospitality of the Hut and the joys of the hot springs. This saved us a lot of carrying, so we could concentrate on work without having to haul our overnight gear as well as the mesh, nails, and tools. Because we were car camping, we totally filled the Jeep with spare tents, spare sleeping bags, spare clothes, and lots of food.
It’s a long drive and the time we waste rounding up all the passengers and then driving up there, usually uses up a lot of Saturday. To avoid this, we drove up Friday afternoon. It’s nice to drive the 4wd portion before it gets dark, but what with the short days we’ve been getting lately, and stopping at Macdonalds Pemberton for some grease, it was dark for the drive up the Upper Lillooet and through the beaver ponds/car-washes. We arrived at the TH around 7 pm and found one car there, not one of ours but a random couple returning from the hot springs, who thanked us and the VOC for making such a lovely trail.
We found a flat spot, put up the 4-person tent, filled it with sleeping bags and mats, and proceeded to sleep. During the night it rained, first gently, then with enthusiasm. Around 5am the rain was making less noise on the tent roof so we thought that soon it would be safe to venture out for a quick pee. But the reason it was quieter was because it was now snowing, pretty hard; horse blankets as we used to say up north.
Morning happened. There was an inch of snow, a lake had formed on the flat ground but fortunately not including our tent. We cowered under a tarp attached to the Jeep and made lots of boiling water, ate our breakfast, strapped a bunch of mesh onto the two frame packs, threw our lunches, 15 lbs of nails, and ten pairs of work gloves into the other two packs and set off. Nothing like a bit of snow on the ground to emphasize the parts of the trail that need traction.
After an hour of walking we found some slippery logs and started nailing on mesh. Cedar took nails well, but the other logs were too rotten to hold nails, so we stopped trying to attach mesh to the rotters. And we didn’t try to wrap bundles of thin poles all pointing the same way as we figured the mesh would be all lumpy and would fall off. We learned to claw the bark and rotten wood off the logs before adding the mesh, and we found that if the mesh didn’t lie well, we could beat it with the hammer until it behaved. We were quite proud of some of our installations. Around 11am the Saturday crew passed us, first the bridge repair crew, then the first crew of trail diggers, and then second crew, hauling mesh in addition to trail tools. We weren’t particularly happy to see these latter people because we were hoping that the extra mesh might have gotten lost somehow, saving us work.
By 4pm we were thoroughly soaked despite wearing two raincoats each. Most of us had fallen off at least one log, and I had tried to saw my leg off using one of the sharp pieces of mesh. According to Jeff’s little page of instructions we had done about 80% of the work and had used up a little over half of the mesh. We left the remaining mesh and nails piled neatly at the “staircase” and headed back to the car, thoroughly used up and soaked. The big question was, would we be able to convince ourselves to hike back for two hours to the pile Sunday in our soaking wet gear, just to do 20% more work. When we got back to the Jeep we started the engine, turned the heater to max, and got warm enough to prepare our hasty dinner. By 7pm we were in the tent and asleep in a huge pile of mostly soaking wet clothes and sleeping bags.
Sunday we expected more of the same, but found to our dismay that it was barely snowing, blue sky was coming out, and the scenery was gorgeous. But we were tired and still soaked. So we packed up and went home. Kasia and Lianne promised that they would come back next spring and attach any pieces of mesh that we missed, and probably drop by the hot springs, and maybe even visit the Hut. Possibly it is not now the season for building trails.