2022 GDTA Trail Building and Maintenance Trips

by Tasha Shakotko and Kate Hamilton

The trail building and maintenance committee, chaired by Dave Hockey, had a very busy and productive summer. Several trail crews answered the needs, both planned and unplanned, of Sections B, D, E, F and G. All told, it amounted to:

  • 117 total individual trail work volunteers 
  • 6,950 volunteer hours building or maintaining trail 
  • 4 km of new trail built and
  • 9 km of trail rebuilt or rerouted over 
  • 106 km of tail maintenance 
  • 3 brand new bridges

Trail crews kicked off the trail building season at the end of June, starting with the first of many trips to the High Rock Trail.  There were exactly 7 trail building camps on the HRT, plus a special project to build the Allison Creek bridge, and one to do some additional clearing. 

Allison Creek bridge.

Speaking of the High Rock Trail, this summer was the official opening of the High Rock.  To celebrate the past 7 years of its creation, we held an event at Chinook Lake Recreation Area in Coleman Alberta.  The Pass brewery in Blairmore even named a beer after the trail for the occasion – the High Rock Mango Blonde.

Trail Trip #3 crew hard at work on new switchbacks along the High Rock Trail.
GDTA President Doug Borthwick takes a break from his work on Trail Trip #6, to chat with long time GDTA volunteers, Deb and Jeremy as they hike the HRT.

In addition to all the trips to the High Rock Trail, we had many other successful trips.

First was the successful completion of the Collie Creek Bridge! 

The Collie Creek bridge in Section D needed more enhancements.

The Oldman Bridge Building Trip where the crew built a brand new bridge on the Oldman River as well as trail clearing and maintenance to the new bridge site.

Brand new Oldman bridge.

The Colonel Creek Clearing Trip was in collaboration with BC Parks and Backcountry Horsemen of BC to clear the hundreds of deadfall that have resulted from a previous burn in Mount Robson Provincial Park.

The Jackpine Trip cleared 15 km of very tight bush, so that now hikers can enjoy a beautiful river walk through.

The Jackpine trail crew on the move.

David Thompson Heritage Trail Clearing which cleared a temporary route through two avalanche paths, clearing over 200 deadfall to Lambe Creek.

The David Thompson Heritage Trail, part of Section D, continues to cook up new challenges for GDTA trail crews. This new avalanche along the Blaeberry River took out trail.
A GDTA Trail Crew made an unplanned Trail Trip to clear a path (lower right) through the avalanche debris.

A collaboration trip with Friends of Jasper National Park worked on clearing bush in Maligne Valley with hand tools. 

Maligne Valley Trip Crew starting out on the trail to camp. Left to right – Mark, Chris, Keiko, Andre, Al, and David.

Trip leader Tasha Shakotko had the below to share on her experience on trail building and clearing trips.

There’s something wonderful to be said for the amazing people who volunteer for the trail building and clearing trips.  A group of people, likely meeting for the first time, coming together to venture into the backcountry.  A common goal of wanting to give back, support the trail and it’s users; creating a bond and allowing friendships to form quickly.  The excitement of starting out on trail, helping to make packs feel lighter and the miles to camp go quickly.  Lively conversation filling the air as everyone gets to know each other a little better.  Swapping stories about past volunteer trips and hiking adventures. The camaraderie deepening as everyone digs into the work, literally and figuratively.  Working side by side – the satisfaction at the end of the day of a job well done shared equally by all. Yes, the trail improvements are the goal, but the reward is the time spent after the work is done. Reminiscing on the days efforts already starting around the circle of stoves as dinners are made. As the end of the trip and the return to normal life nears, the crew knows it lefts its mark on the trail – but as it always seems to do, the trail has also left its mark in the hearts of the volunteers. They’ll look back on their time with increasing fondness – allowing time to add a rosy tint to the mosquitoes, blisters, and dehydrated meals that filled their days.  

Maligne Valley Trip Crew starting work on the trail. Left to right – Tasha, Mark, Al, Chris, Andre, Keiko, and David.

Check out the video below for all the fun….

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