Crew bridges access to alpine range

A sturdy new bridge now opens up safer access to the alpine range in the Seven Sisters Provincial Park between Terrace and Hazelton.

The proud peaks of the Seven Sisters tower above the alpine range

A sturdy new bridge now opens up safer access to the alpine range in the Seven Sisters Provincial Park between Terrace and Hazelton.

The alpine range has beautiful meadows and spectacular views of mountain peaks and is accessed via the 17-kilometre Oliver Creek trail, where the new bridge was built.

Volunteers from the Skeena-Stikine chapter of the Back Country Horsemen of BC, as well as a few B.C. park rangers, assembled the bridge at a weekend workbee on August 12-14.

The materials were flown in by helicopter to the Oliver Creek area near the trappers cabin, which is inaccessible by machinery, and the bridge was completely built by hand.

Donna Rennison from the back country horsemen said it was hard work, but a fun project.

“It was a big job, but it was a fun job… we had a pretty eager-beaver crew,” she said.

Four members from the horsemen, including Rennison and her husband Rick, loaded up horses and made the 17-kilometre trek to the cabin on Friday, Aug. 12. That was the rendezvous site where they met the first of three park rangers who helped with the job.

The goal was to replace the rickety old trappers bridge over Oliver Creek, which was made of small, three-inch logs layered on top of larger logs embedded in the creek bed.

Bright and early on Saturday morning, they pulled out the old bridge, and then a helicopter dropped off two loads of materials for the new bridge.

The crew dug into the creek bank to secure the large brace beams there, and then built the rest of the bridge.

“Everything had to be done by hand because they couldn’t get equipment up there,” Rennison said.

Several groups of local horse riders stopped in throughout the day to offer a hand or take a shift watching the horses at the trappers cabin.

“We were impressed that we were able to get the bridge in and the old one out in a day — we thought it was going to take us all weekend,” Rennison said.

“Everything went really smoothly. We were well planned and didn’t have any hiccups, and the weather cooperated too, that was the best part.”

The group celebrated with a campfire Saturday night and then spent Sunday exploring the beautiful alpine range, testing the bridge with their horses on their way up, and again on their way down.

Rennison said the alpine area was beautiful.

“We met lots of hikers out on the trail on Sunday who were all excited about the new bridge,” she added.

The project was funded through a $4,100 grant from BC Parks. The horsemen maintain trails from Dease Lake to Kitwanga, north to the Nass Valley, south to Kitimat and west to Prince Rupert.

They have 40 Terrace members and 26 Kitimat members, and Rennison said they were thrilled with the number of people who stopped by or who they passed on the trails.

“We were thrilled to see there was that much interest,” she said, adding that the trials are for hikers, bikers, horse riders and other recreational use.

“What we do is for everybody, it’s not just for our group,” she said.

“It’s a shared trail access, multi-use, so it’s open to everybody.”