Plywood seats made the author’s trip to the Turner Lake Chain a little uncomfortable. His advice: do your research before you take any trip to know what’s in store.

Plywood seats made the author’s trip to the Turner Lake Chain a little uncomfortable. His advice: do your research before you take any trip to know what’s in store.

Know before you go to avoid surprises

Lawrence Woodall advocates researching your trips in full to make the most of them.

It was about this time last year we were planning a canoe/hiking trip, and I was in desperate need of mountains. A place I truly feel free, where the world’s vistas open before your eyes.

We had been thinking of doing the Turner Lake Chain in Tweedsmuir Provincial Park in 2010, but due to heavy floods that washed out bridges and a forest fire that year, we put it on the back burner. In 2011, only a portion of the chain was open due to hazards from the 2010 fire. By spring of 2012 I learned that was the year to visit the Turner chain, as all of the circuit and trails were open according to the park operator. And there were no warnings on the Tweedsmuir Provincial Park page online.

The only inconvenience was that the bridge over Young’s Creek was still washed out, and our only way up was by plane, meaning we wouldn’t be able to hike up the Hunlen Falls Trail. It cost a bit extra, but that expense was keeping lots of campers away, which meant we had the whole lake chain and all the trails to ourselves for a week and a half. There’s nothing like feeling you own the world at 3,600 feet. With spectacular views of the coastal mountains, I couldn’t wait to hike up onto the glacier on Glacier Mountain.

Our first concern was the canoes we had to choose from. Many were marked with pink tape for repairs and not for use, others had no carrying yoke, and a number had varnished plywood seats, not very comfortable on an extended trip. Still others were held together with duct tape. Renting was cheaper than flying up with our own canoe, but in hindsight the extra cost would have been worth it. In the end, we found two canoes that were in reasonable shape.

Fishing for cutthroat in these waters is like shooting fish in a barrel. The number of cutthroat is ridiculous; if you don’t catch fish here you should give up fishing and take up needlepoint. And there’s no lack of food — not just for the fish, but bird life is plentiful with hundreds of warblers, finches and cedar waxwings in aerial warfare, along with a myriad of other songbirds gobbling down the buffet of all you can eat insects.

The biggest disappointment came the second day, hiking up the Ptarmigan Lake Trail up to the glacier. At South Goat Creek a third of the way up, I realized something was amiss long before I reached the little creek to ford across, when I heard a constant roar. It was no little creek; it was a raging runoff 35- to 45-feet across. Looking up through the fringe of the subalpine my numb mind took in the splendor of the glacier and alpine that waited only hours away, but unreachable.

Grizzlies, deer, moose, birds, and scenery were top notch, portage trails aren’t kayak cart friendly, yippie, fishing is fun. On returning and speaking to the operator I discovered that South Goat Creek did have a bridge but had been washed out in 2010, and that the creek can only be forded in late August, a detail left out in our phone conversation.

BC Parks posted on the Tweedsmuir site Dec 14, 2012 that there were washed out bridges that would be repaired this summer, 2013. This information should have been posted three years ago but, then again, I should have grilled the park operator thoroughly to get the full answers out of him. That, or placed him on the rack. The upside is there is a reason to go back to explore the alpine and glacier, and I’ll have to be very specific about the conditions of the canoes and trails with the park operator.

 

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