Fairy Meadow Hut - Trail Maintenance 2017

 
 Bill working hard while modelling the latest chaps, chainsaw and safety headgear. Photo by Nicole Larson.

Bill working hard while modelling the latest chaps, chainsaw and safety headgear. Photo by Nicole Larson.

Editor's note: The Alpine Club of Canada maintains 26 backcountry huts – plus another 6 that are maintained by local sections – which range from family-friendly cabins set in alpine meadows to backcountry powder paradises and remote climbers’ refuges. ACC huts provide basic, rustic shelter for backcountry travellers, offering protection from the elements, and communal cooking and sleeping areas. All of this requires year-round maintenance to keep the wood stocked, the outhouse barrels fresh, and everything in between, including clearing the trail to Fairy Meadow Hut.

Remote maintenance poses its own challenges, as described in the story below.


Getting there

Fairy Meadow is a hut relatively few have accessed on foot. During the summer months, it is possible to reach the hut by driving 63km down an active logging road followed by a challenging hike over about 8km and 1000m elevation.

In August of 2017, the ACC maintenance team along with help from volunteers, spent two days clearing the "trail" down to where a team of volunteers had stopped the previous year. The alders were trimmed, deadfall was bucked and cleared and additional trail markers were added at key points.

 Long days in the hills with the crew. Photo by Nicole Larson.

Long days in the hills with the crew. Photo by Nicole Larson.

Carving out a "trail"

However, despite the work we've done, we are hesitant to refer to it as a "trail" but more like a "way." Alders grow quickly and avalanches will continue to cover the route with snow and other debris which creates challenges for route finding and potential danger in certain locations. It is still very much a "climbers trail" — steep and direct.

 And this is the type of undergrowth you’re typically dealing with. Photo by Nicole Larson.

And this is the type of undergrowth you’re typically dealing with. Photo by Nicole Larson.

 Follow the flagging tape to Fairy Meadow. Photo by Nicole Larson.

Follow the flagging tape to Fairy Meadow. Photo by Nicole Larson.

Be prepared

If you're planning to hike in on foot next summer, be prepared for an adventure. Do your research, bring a map, compass, GPS, radio for the road if possible and necessary gear for spending an unplanned night outside.

 The trail to Fairy Meadow requires lots of log crossings over avalanche paths like this one. Photo by Nicole Larson.

The trail to Fairy Meadow requires lots of log crossings over avalanche paths like this one. Photo by Nicole Larson.

 This angle shows well how dense the bush is throughout the valley. Photo by Nicole Larson.

This angle shows well how dense the bush is throughout the valley. Photo by Nicole Larson.