Pulpit Rock Trail gets spruced up
By Suzy Hamilton, The Nelson Daily
Shortcuts may be good for computer keyboards and barber shops, but they’re murder on hiking trail switchbacks.
Thanks to a $6,500 grant from RDCK Areas E and F, a three person trail crew from the Castlegar Friends of Parks and Trails begins work on May 7 to upgrade the popular 1.8 km Pulpit Rock trail overlooking Nelson and Kootenay Lake.
The Pulpit Rock Trail System extends to the CBC tower at the Elephant Mountain summit.
Restoring the switchbacks and side sloping the trail to reduce erosion will be top on the “to do “ list, said Friends of Pulpit Rock Society (FPRS) president Don Lyon.
“Several switchbacks are eroding because of short cutting,” said Lyon. “We’ve identified two particular shortcuts on the trail that need to be fixed. The natural foot traffic brings rocks and roots up, and that’s where they will be rebuilding the trail.”
The crew will concentrate on building wooden and stone stairs on a number of eroded switchbacks, and re-establishing the grade on worn sections of trail.
Sarah Meunier will lead the crew for a three week session before the heavy hiker traffic begins.
In 2012, thanks to Trafx, a thermal sensor counter, the Friends were able to log 20,000 hikers, most of them people, who used the trail, “although the sensor counts animals, too,” said Lyon.
In March, Lyon said he was surprised at the count of 2,300 hikers heading up to the rock for a spectacular look at Nelson.
“Even crappy days in February people are going up,” mused Lyon. And when is it used the most? “On nice weekends!” replied Lyon without hesitation.
Prep work for the trail crew began by getting supplies up the trail with the help of volunteer hikers. FPRS director Guy Woods came up with the idea. He filled sandbags with about 10 pounds of step-filler sand in moderate-sized bags and asked hikers to drop them off at the switchback work sites.
This will allow the trail crew to concentrate on trail work, rather than transporting materials up the trail.
“We needed 140 bags and got them up there in about four days,” said Lyon.
“It got to the point where Guy could hardly keep up with it!” Lyon laughed.
Lyon said not only will the trail crew get a boost, but the task encouraged public “buy in.”
Another 1.8 clicks past the rock is the new flagpole, erected in 2012, and donated by two sisters, Yones Couch and Fermina Bath. The sisters said the flagpole was to commemorate all the fun filled days they enjoyed as children hiking the trail.
No longer a local secret, people come from all over to hike the trail, said Lyon. And that has brought parking problems at the trailhead on Johnstone Road. “It’s a toughy,” said Lyon. “We’re letting the RDCK take the lead.”
There may be room for six or seven more cars on the uphill side of the road with proper culverting, said Lyon. “It’s do-able.”
Lyon said the Friends are always looking for more volunteers. If you’re interested in helping out, contact him at 250-505-2050.