Batchelor Cabin in Tetrahedron Provincial Park

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Thanks to Natasha Gellatly of the Tetrahedron Outdoor Club for the following text and photos:

 

It’s been 30 years since the building of the four backcountry cabins and trails, in what would later become Tetrahedron Provincial Park, and the Tetrahedron Outdoor Club has been busy over the last decade making very necessary repairs and upgrades.

About 7 years ago, the TOC started its “cabin steward” program and asked for volunteers to take on a cabin and see to its regular maintenance, and to plan and execute any renovation work. In exchange, they got a large lockable box for their personal gear, generators and power tools flown in by helicopter, and lots of autonomy as to the what, how, and when of the work.

Batchelor cabin is the closest cabin to the trailhead—reachable usually in under 2 hrs in any season—and it has often been abused as a destination for an alcohol-infused party. But it’s also popular with families as a relatively easy way to get the kids into the backcountry overnight, and is a popular destination for ski-touring/snow-shoeing day-trippers. BC Parks wanted to close the cabin or turn it into an open shelter because of the abuse, and that’s when then-President Reynold Schmidt came up with the “cabin steward” plan. A couple of his buddies, Doug House and Lloyd Mager, were game to keep it open for families and got on with fixing what was broken, putting in a new window, getting rid of the illegal outdoor campfire pit, brushing out the trail, and regularly patrolling the cabin with “Cabin Sheriff” crests on their hats. Doug and Lloyd had a great way of engaging with anyone using that cabin and didn’t hesitate to get tough with abusers, and this went a long way towards turning Batchelor cabin back into a family-friendly destination. Doug and Lloyd have had to give up their work with Batchelor cabin but they were the first cabin stewards and did a great job!

Gerry and Ellen Marcotte relocated to the Sunshine Coast from Grande Prairie and from the first time I met them at a club social I knew I had to strongly suggest that they be part of the backbone of the TOC. Before Gerry could say no, he was made a TOC board member and to everyone’s delight he and Ellen volunteered to take on the stewardship of Batchelor cabin. In their previous life in Grande Prairie, they lived in a log house and Ellen was in charge of staining the exterior, so the relatively small Batchelor cabin staining project was no problem for her. When she saw stain on sale at the local building supply store she bought the whole lot.

The McNair cabin stewards had picked up a generator in need of repair and Gerry got the parts, fixed it, and had it flown in with the heli-lift of stain, paint, insulation, lumber, tools, and the dozens of other items. Over a couple of work parties and their own few days at the cabin—and with consultation and help from Victor Bonaguro, the original builder of the cabins—it’s been stained, insulated, skirted, and painted, the soil and wood debris under the cabin has been excavated and moved to make a proper path along the cabin, a new upper balcony was built, and drainage ditches have been dug. This is the first major work the cabin has seen since its build in 1987 and there’s more work to do—more insulation, drainage, rotten log replacements, woodstove replacement—but the cabin is looking great!

The TOC is thankful to now have all its cabins cared for by skilled and dedicated cabin stewards, and to be able to carry out our work within a very comprehensive and workable Parks Partnership Agreement. We are also very lucky to have an easy and long-standing relationship with BC Parks. Thanks in the past and present to Senior Rangers/Area Supervisors Dylan Eyers and Rod Dalziel who, even during the ever-increasing budget restrictions of the last many years, worked with the TOC to coordinate sharing of costs for a few heli-lifts and helped when they could. And now that there is significant new money available to BC Parks—thanks in no small part to the efforts of the FMCBC—which has resulted in the return of a much-needed second Parks Ranger to our area, the TOC looks forward to moving forward on critical projects with more help from our BC Parks Rangers. It’s a great time to be working with the terrific cabin stewards, other volunteers, and Parks staff in our little jewel, “The Tet”!

 

 

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