August 22, 2002

Heiko's Trail

Most folks folks familiar with the ski hill from the time before the Resort of the Canadian Rockies bought it, will know or at least know of Heiko. He was legendary not only for creating the ski experience we all enjoy, but for his endless energy and willingness to take physical risks few others would. So when Heiko realized he would not be able to finance his dreamed of expansion into Timber and Currie bowls without incurring debt that he abhorred and so sold the ski hill to RCR on condition the expansion take place, few folks expected he would take to sitting back in his rocker taking it easy. Indeed Heiko has kept himself very busy with a number of projects and one of the most spectacular is a trail he decided to build behind the Three Sisters.

The plan is for the trail to run from an old mill site off of Hartley Lake road, up between the Sisters and Mount Bisaro and eventually to the Island Lake area. Heiko being Heiko, he didn't organize committees and seek funding, but rather just started building the trail himself. As time went on other volunteers have joined him on a rotating basis, but the dynamo of the project remains Heiko.

Work is continuing, but the first part of the trail is completed and our family set out to explore it yesterday. Access is from the kilometer seven mark of Hartley Lake road which leads to a meadow and then a creek crossing on a bridge that didn't look like it might be all that friendly to our clearance limited small car. We chose to leave the car there and walk the couple of kilometers up the road to the trail head, but folks with taller vehicles should have no problem.

Once on the trail itself, it quickly climbs alongside a simply stunning creek with a waterfall that issues from a cave in the cliff side. In an area not exactly short of nice scenary, this was still something special. Beyond the waterfall the trail continues up the cliff side to a large and rather spectacular cave. Continuing further up will bring you to a gentle treed and meadowed ridge with Mount Bisaro looming over it. This was as far as the troops were interested in going and the trail seemed to be petering out in any event. Indeed Heiko and his helpers were still working in this area.

The trail itself is rather amazing, with bridges, peeled log hand rails and even stairs (sometimes closer to ladders) in places. Much of it has been hewn right out of the cliff side and might not be too comfortable for some, although I am none too fond of heights and had no particular problem with it. There are even some nicely crafted place name signs along the way. The amount of work that has gone into this is incredible and all for no reward other than bringing some pleasure to other folks. It is simply inspirational!

A little piece of Eden not far from Fernie. A picture does not come close to portraying the beauty of this area, deemed 'Jumping Waters' according to a nicely made sign.

The approach road to the hike, with Mount Bisaro on the left.

The waterfall feeding the stream...

issues forth from a cave, which a puckish sign deems to be Watergate. It must have been quite a trick to get that bench in place!

Looking back towards the Sulphur Creek area, we can see that there are still a few trees left in BC.

The trail is well built, but follows some hairy terrain and might not be everyone's cup of tea.

A large cave along the way makes for an interesting diversion.

Another shot inside the cave. The water in this cave has a slight sulphur smell to it, but isn't over powering in any way.

There are nice meadows up on the ridge that was the end of the line for our hike, but not for the trail.

Part of Mount Bisaro from our turn around point.