As an online editorial coordinator I spend a good deal of time on the web each day. I'm busy fact checking, researching story ideas, doing some social media and liaising with intrepid freelancers. While surfing the Internet I inevitably run into places, natural wonders, explorers and gadgets that floor, delight or surprise me. I figured if they're news to me, they might be news to you too. So let's get started: here are four trails and places I've been inspired by this week.
1. The HBC Heritage Trail
Hope Mountain Centre
If you've ever driven the Coquihalla - a.k.a. B.C. Highway 5 - you're basically transiting the modern version of the HBC Heritage Trail. I drive that stretch at least five times each summer on the way to our family cabin, so I truly can't believe that I hadn't heard about the HBC Heritage Trail until this week.
74 kilometres in length, this route was originally used by the First Nations for hunting and trading. By 1849, Hudson's Bay Company had officially built the trail, with the help of the First Nations. This key route saw HBC brigades - horses loaded with furs - travel over the Cascade Mountains. Specifically, the trail connected Kamloops with Fort Hope and was a vital link between the B.C. interior and its coast.
Not only does the trail represent some really cool B.C. history, it can be hiked, too! Since 2009, volunteers have been passionately clearing and maintaining the HBC Heritage Trail. There are 10 campsites along the way and multiple access points.
I encourage you to read an in-depth account of the trail's fascinating history and find complete information about the hike here: hopemountain.org/trails/hbc-heritage-trail
2. Donjek Glacier
Kluane National Park and Reserve, Yukon
(c) Image used with consent of Robert Lee
At first glance I mistook Donjek Glacier for the world-famous Perito Moreno Glacier in Argentina's Los Glaciares National Park. It seems we have a little slice of Patagonia in our backyard. And little, is right. Donjek Glacier nearly doubles Perito in length, measuring 56 km in long, while Perito stretches 30 km. I couldn't find any information about the width and height of Donjek's toe to compare to Perito (5 km wide and 74 m high) but if anyone unearths that data, let me know.
Want to admire the glacier with your own eyes? The 'hike' to Donjek Glacier is not for the faint of heart. In fact, you should probably hire a guide because it's an excursion that demands total self reliance.
Donjek Glacier, via Parks Canada / C. Wong
The 96 kilometre route can hardly even be called a trail. There are no route markers, and hikers can expect the challenge of crossing multiple streams. Bring a machete because Donjek Route isn't maintained either. This is some serious Canadian trekking, taking 8 to 10 days to complete.
Parks Canada has an excellent write up of the route here: pc.gc.ca/eng/pn-np/yt/kluane
3. Richmond Gulf
I stumbled across Richmond Gulf while researching an article we published last week titled 6 Awesome Quebec Parks Worth Planning your Vacation Around. It sounded like such a neat place I had to know more about it.
Basically, it's a brackish body of water described as an 'inland bay'. Eyeballing Google Maps, a strip of land measuring four to eight kilometres separates Richmond Gulf from Hudson Bay. One narrow channel allows sea water to flow into it, which means the Gulf's waterline rises and falls with the tide. Rivers feed into it creating a pretty special ecosystem. Fauna includes trout, whitefish, seals, predatory birds and beluga. The latter bring their calves into the Gulf's sheltered and warmer waters.
Now, that's pretty cool in itself, but there are a few other features that make the area even more intriguing. Geographically, Hudson cuestas shape the beauty of the Gulf, creating an otherwordly environment. Secondly, the distinctly circular Clearwater Lake - formed in "the depressions of two eroded impact craters" and measuring some 26 and 36 km in diameter - lies nearby. And what is going on with the shape of Flaherty Island? It all amounts to a unique landscape I'd love to see for myself.
4. Vancouver Island Spine Trail
Vancouver Island, B.C.
With permission of Vancouver Island Spine Trail via Flickr
There's an effort underway to create a 700-kilometre long public trail system on Vancouver Island. Sweet. (Full disclosure, I am Vancouver Island born and bred.) The prospect of a mega trail like this would no doubt attract the world's hiking community.
The proposed Vancouver Island Spine Trail (VIST) route looks something like this: Cape Scott - Port Hardy - Port McNeil - bypass Woss - Buttle Lake - Cumberland - Port Alberni - Alberni Inlet (east side) - Cowichan Lake - Shawnigan Lake -Victoria. (See the complete map here.)
Su-Laine Yeo Brodsky
Per VISTA's 2016 AGM notes, 44% (or 320 km) of the trail is currently passable. A quarter of the trail is delayed due to access problems on private forestry land. The remaining third is planned to be finished within the next two years.
If you are interested in trail location scouting, trail clearing work, fundraising or PR for the project, let VISTA know. Check out their Get Involved - Volunteer webpage.