Hikers making their way up to Viking Ridge in Sugarbowl-Grizzly Den Provincial Park east of Prince George will come away with less mud on their boots after members of the Caledonia Ramblers Hiking Club installed about 500 feet of boardwalk along the wetter, boggier sections of the trail.
Dave King organized the effort. He secured $4,700 from the BC Parks’ Parks Enhancement Fund, found and purchased 1,000 feet of random length roughcut cedar 2×8 planking and 4×4 supports and arranged to have the lumber flown by helicopter to the site along with chainsaws, nails and other needed supplies.
On Saturday, September 11, Dave and seven other club members hiked to the site, about four kilometres up the trail and, hammers in hand, set about to put in place about 10 sections of plankway on muddy wet parts of the trail under Dave’s direction. The work went better than expected and by mid afternoon, almost all the lumber – and even the nails – had been used up, leaving the group with enough time to go on up to Viking Lake, clearing some downed trees along the way, before heading back down to the parking lot. It was a 12-hour work day!
Located about 85 kilometres east of Prince George in the north end of the Robson Valley, the trail was first located and cleared by Dave in 1981 has since become a popular destination for hikers in the Central Interior. (The area became a provincial park in 2000.)
It takes hikers up through a stand of large old cedar into a forest of spruce and balsam, partly following a First Nations trail into the Caribou Meadows at 1,450 metres elevation.
Although scenic, the meadow stretch forces hikers to tip-toe, sidestep and leap to keep their boots from getting wet, and usually without success, as several small creeks flow through the area.
From there, they can make their way back into a forest and ascend steadily to Viking Lake and, for the more ambitious, onto Viking Ridge beyond. The open ridges provide stunning views of the Rocky Mountain Trench and mountains in all directions.
The work that was completed has been greeted with accolades as word has gotten out through social media. It was the start of what could be a multi-year project to improve the trail and protect the wetland in the process.
To provide a closer look at the work and at the trail itself, club member Mike Nash has posted a video on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M_jYMXxd9u8