Craig's Report - July 30, 2007

Way Too Hot

It has been a scorching July in Fernie, with the highs on our outside thermometer exceeding 30 C for all but a couple of days. Fortunately there was one decent rain storm mid-month, but still things are getting pretty dry and the fire hazard is now high, although not yet extreme according to the sign down by the highway.

July also brought the opening of the lifts for the two month summer season, with the Elk chair running every day and the Timber chair open on the weekends. A couple of wind storms and resulting electrical problems kept the Elk chair down for the first few days and the whole operation down on another occasion, but otherwise things appear to be going smoothly.

Recently signs have appeared which prohibit hiking in the bike park and given the prominent placement of two on the main road leading up from the base area, these could be interpreted as meaning pretty much the entire mountain. I spoke with the fellow in charge of the bike trails and it seems they have not definitively determined their policy on hiking, but they definitely want to prevent hikers on the bike trails at least. Having seen how poorly oblivious sight seeing families and testosterone driven downhill demons mix on the same trail, the reasons for the concern would seem obvious.

Of course this would seem to imply that bikers with the temerity to fall on a trail or even worse, wussy enough to walk down a section that proved beyond their capabilities would be fair game and an even bigger and less nimble target than a hopefully observant hiker. However the reality is that the bikers are the bread and butter of the summer operation and I suspect some of the less patient ones complain bitterly if anything impedes their downward plunge. Signage notwithstanding and unless I am told otherwise, I will assume there should be no problem continuing to hike the new side when the Timber chair is not open to the public.

It does sound like they might revisit the issue next year and may have more options for hiking, besides the couple of trails at the tops of the lifts. However they are a business, it is their land and they have little to gain and possibly much to lose from folks who aren't buying a lift ticket. Thus, unless you wish to ride up Timber and climb up for the great views from Polar Peak, folks coming to Fernie to hike would probably be better off avoiding FAR. Island Lake has some great trails which are well marked and maintained and the scenery is spectacular. In addition there are many great trails all around Fernie, although these are sometimes a bit harder to find and follow. Alas none are right outside my door though. :-)

At 16:30 it is a sunny 33 C at the house, but mercifully there is a bit of wind.

Signs of the times?

A section of the TNT where it enters the bottom of Deep Sea. Not only would I surely not survive a bike trip down it, I wasn't sure I was going to make it through the foot slog up. The Timber chair was closed today, so there was no traffic to worry about.

Another intimidating chunk of TNT.

The concrete block to the left of the existing "facilities" at the top of the Timber chair would seem to be the start of another very civilized four hole outhouse. I only used the existing one a couple of times last winter, but was pretty impressed at how un-outhouse like they were.

They also appeared to be adding the framework for some additional signs at the top of Timber. This picture and the last one were taken from the entrance to the Lost Boys Cafe. No, it wasn't open.

Timber Bowl from the very scenic deck of Lost Boys.

This was taken on Trespass Trail on the way into Currie Bowl. Polar Peak looms ahead and Bootleg Glades drops off to the right. If you think Bootleg Glades look impressively steep in the winter, you should take a look down them in the summer.

Looking up Down Right in Currie Bowl.

Concussion Chute flows down from Polar Peak into a field of fire weed below the Currie Chutes.

Despite the hot and dry conditions, the greenery in some places, like here on Megasaurus between Sky Dive and Decline, seems almost tropical.

Bird's eye view of the Elk unload area from Megasaurus.

Peeking up at the Lizard side of Polar from the trees beside Easter Bowl.

With the short summer season half over, they still haven't finished the terrain park on Mighty Moose. It has been open with what was completed when I have come by before, but it appeared to be closed for more work today.