Report by Paul Kubik, BC Mountaineering Club
Mountaineers have accessed the northern Tantalus Range from Sigurd Creek since around 1968. John Clarke approached from Madden Creek to the south but the Swiss branch of the BCMC (Gernot Walter, Manfred Putz and Max Lustenberger) along with Clarke recorded some first route ascents and descents from Sigurd Creek. My first foray was in 1981 but there was no trail. It was quite an impressive bushwhack at the time. Around 1990, myself and others in the BCMC (Sev Heiberg, Blair Mitten) began surveying a route which eventually became the Sigurd Trail. To date, we have only found reason to relocate only a few short sections of the trail from the original route we laid out.
A key element of the trail is the crossing of Sigurd Creek near the six km mark at 3300 feet ASL. The original crossing used a convenient log. This log was relocated downstream 200 metres by the forces of nature after the massive snow year the winter of 1999. Evidence of an avalanche down an infrequently running path suggests an ice and snow dam blocked the creek above the footbridge. When the dam burst it swept away everything in its path. How else does a one metre thick tree and massive root ball get swept downstream 200 metres?
The creek is significant enough that a footbridge is required except at all but very low water. In 2002, the BCMC was able to get another tree in place. Unfortunately, the log was not cedar and a bit of rot and another high snow year in winter 2011 cracked the log in the middle. Around this time, we were also gaining some certainty that the trail would never be logged as it gained protected status as a conservancy. Largely due to the prodding of Andrew Wong of North Shore Hikers, I got motivated in 2012 to replace the sagging structure. This time we planned to build the bridge higher than high water. The BCMC came through with a grant for $1000 and shortly afterwards the FMCBC donated a further $2100. The grant enabled us to get people and heavy tools into the area along with overnight gear so there was sufficient time and resources to do a proper job. At this point I have to thank Wulf Pirang of Mission for loaning us all the heavy tools like come alongs, jack, donation of coils of wire rope and fabrication of special hangers and structural supports. I don’t think the project would have been such a success without his help.
Over the years, I’ve had dozens of volunteers from the BCMC, NSH and other unaffiliated people help on the Sigurd Trail. I long ago lost count of the number of work parties in the last twenty years but my guess is that we’ve had well over 100 and more likely 200 person days of volunteer effort directly working on the trail. At present the trail is the principal access point for climbing and skiing Pelion and Ossa Mountains and Sigurd Peak. Some people are using the trail for the first or last leg of the Tantalus Range traverse – a multi-day adventure with Lake Lovely Water at the other end.
In summer 2013, the plan is to extend the trail to create a horseshoe traverse connecting Sigurd headwaters with Pokosha Creek and a hiking route to Sigurd Lake. Long term, the route will be extended down the west side of the Tantalus Range to Jim Haberl hut but more as a mountaineering route than a trail.