2017 has been a very busy year for RMWS members and the Board of Directors, but after six years of dedication we have achieved our primary goal of trail upgrading from Grand Cache to Rock Lake.
In March we held a successful fundraiser at the Hinton Community Center, for the first time at this venue. Everyone had a great time, and we had a lot of positive feedback about moving to a bigger setting.
Then in June we held our AGM at the Gregg River Cabin with 50+ members in attendance. It was a great success with many discussions of the first five years of on the ground achievements for the RMWS.
There were two directors up for re-election as their term had lapsed. Bryan Allan was re-elected and Jim McClelland one of the founding directors decided to step down for the time being. He will continue as a strong member and help out where needed. Chris Genert was elected in for a 3-year term. Chris is an astute business man from Hinton that has spent a lot of time in the Wilmore and other parts of the Eastern slopes on pack trips. With his experience and bush savvy, he is a great addition to the RMWS board of directors.
Mors Kohanski once again attended the meeting and shared his vast knowledge on bush survival and forest fauna.
Once again all in attendance were very pleased with the entertainment supplied by Natalie Groat, Darlene McCallum with Landon Delorme joining in with their talent in singing and guitar picking. Great job and thanks to you all!
Next on the RMWS agenda for the summer was to work on the final leg of the mountain trail between Grande Cache and Rock Lake: On July 10th Lyle Moberly packed the trail crew into Monaghan Creek on a two-week trip to work on the trail between the Rock Creek Valley and Monaghan Creek. This project turned out to be a big job. With a very energetic crew starting to clean up the trail close to the grave of Felix Tappa which is located near the head of Rock Creek Valley ending at Monaghan Camp on the Sulpher River. Progress each day shortened the riding time back to camp approximately ½ hour each day as the crew vigorously worked its way toward Little Grave. When we got to Little Graves advancement slowed a bit as there were section of trail over grown with willows that were taller than a horse and rider. After a week two members of the crew had to leave, and everyone was sad to see Brian and Sharon Drysdale ride by on their way home due to work commitments. But luck was on our side when three members showed up and filled the void in the crew. Thank you, Durwill Dennis of Edmonton and siblings Mary-Bell and Victor Rojas from Mexico. Your hard work was appreciated as well! Finally, after many days went by our goal of reaching Monaghan Creek Camp seemed achievable. One of the highlights of the project was a bridge built by Lyle Moberly and Robert Gienger on a bottomless creek. This bridge made life so much easier as we had to cross that nasty little creek twice a day to get to our work site as it was only ½ an hour from camp. With close to 14 kilometers completed on this project we are proud to say that the mountain trail from Grande Cache to Rock Lake is open again to a standard that allows safe and enjoyable travel.
The second project RMWS had planned for this summer was the rebuild of Summit Cabin. This project was delayed again for a year, this time by the government historical resource department not doing their part in the approval process. But we feel it will happen!
The upgrade of the Rock Lake equestrian staging area is well along and Alberta Parks deserves a lot of credit for following through on the RMWS proposal and plan to add eight more campsites. Our partnership with Alberta Parks has been a win/win and we will be meeting with them shortly to push harder for the Summit Cabin preservation project.
Dave Wildman, and Leanne and Dennis Quintilio cleared trail in September from the staging area up to tent camping area east of the commercial staging area. As usual there was additional blowdown on the Jackson Creek trail and they cleared that out to the height of land on Jackson Creek.
Even with the Summit Cabin project held over, the RMWS has achieved a huge milestone in the short 6 years in existence. The trail from Grande Cache to Rock Lake has never been in such prime shape since the exploration cats cut through the valley’s in the Wilmore since the 50’s.
We have one more event planned for this year. Mark your calendars for the October 28th! There will be a shindig at the Edson Legion where we will have a supper and dance with a very good chance of a presentation of a film by Emmy Award winning cinematographer Andrew Manske. This will be a membership drive and wind-up for a productive year for RMWS. Looking forward to seeing you there!
2015 Fall Report
RMWS has had a very busy summer starting with the AGM held on the 3 week end of June at Gregg River Cabin. The weather was a bit cooler than the last year which didn’t hamper the 60 plus members which came out for the festivities and demo’s put on by renowned Survivalist Mors Kohanski and GPS Guru Gary Mandrusiak. Everyone had a great time and enjoyed the musical talent displayed by Natalie Groat and Landon Delorme.
There were two raffles held; one for a picnic table which had members horse brands burnt into the table top which turned out very nice. Member Larry Chapman was the lucky winner. The 2nd raffle was for a moose antler carving by the master carver Chuck Ratliff, it went home with new member Quinton Olson.
Right after the AGM planning was finalized for the trip into Big Graves to clear the trail to Monaghan Creek. On July 16th Lyle Moberly set out from Grande Cache with a very capable crew for Big Grave. (RMWS would like to point out that ACA was a major sponsor on this trip which is very much appreciated) The weather was not very good to start off this journey and we had two days of rain which delayed the start-up of this big project.
With a lot of enthusiasm the crew finally got started on the trail starting in the willow flat right at Big Grave. There was a nasty mix of willow, blowdown and pack box scared trees as the crews worked along the old historic pack trail. We were blessed with a few hot days which had a down side of numerous wasp nests along the trail. The length of the trail we set out to complete to the RMWS standard was close to 14 kilometers to reach Monaghan Creek campsite.
With around 8 kilometers completed we decided to move the camp to Monaghan creek to reduce travel time, once the camp was moved we knew that this project could be completed as planned with the extra time saved in traveling. A hard push was put on the final four days we had left before the crew was to pack up and head for Rock Lake. With time running out Monaghan Creek was reached on the last available day. With this section of the mountain trail in very good shape, the old historic trails is in great condition from Grande Cache to Monaghan Creek which is a huge accomplishment in the few short years of RMWS’s existence.
Once the camp was loaded up and the pack outfit headed to Rock Lake, we wanted to do a little recon on the remaining work requirement and guestimate the among of time it would take to clear from Monaghan Creek to Summit cabin in the Rock Creek Valley.
This section of the Mountain trail has seen a lot of water damage from Little Grave to Summit as well as heavy willow growth with river crossing washouts between Monaghan and Little Grave. It looked like a pretty big job to clean the trail up to Summit, but with an eager crew we figured one more trip into this section of Mountain trail could quite possible be enough to finish the project.
Dennis and Leanne Quintilio along with Dave Wildman managed to fit in a short trip to the Clearwater in July to do a check up on the by-pass along the beaver dams on the 40 Mile trail, install some signs and re-con on the Lost Guide Lake trail.
Due to the very high fire season we saw this summer we were unable to get a helicopter and fire crew to help on some of the hard to get at locations we hoped to clean up this summer.
But with what was achieved by the trail crew we can be very proud of the RMWS accomplishments to date as the Wilmore was very busy this fall and we had a lot of compliments of the great job being done on these old trails.
On Sept 18th the RMWS ride and campout was held at the Hay River equine campground. Due to so many commitments and conflicting events with the organizers of this event the September Long weekend couldn’t work. The numbers were down but all that could make it had a good time.
The Cowboys Ball is set for October 24th in Hinton. Again expect tickets to be sold quickly once they are printed.
Pope-Thoreau Trail-July 23 to 31 and August 18, 2014
This trail has a lot of history as the Blue Diamond Coal Company freighted in a steam engine to run a coal exploration project on Thoreau Creek in 1932. The trail goes through the old camp and past the steam engine and then climbs to the Pope-Thoreau summit at an elevation of 6740 ft. Our crew left Rock Lake on July 23rd and camped at Carson Creek which is about a half-hour ride to the intersection of the Mountain trail and Thoreau Creek.
The crew consisted of Dave Wildman, Slim and Pauline Quintal and Dennis, Leanne, Kevin, Ntala, Henrick and Antya Quintilio. Ken South, Jim MacClelland and Brian Allan helped freight our camp in on the 23rd and Don Law helped us pack up. Alberta Tourism, Parks and Recreation hauled our fuel, oil and brush saw by snowmobile during the winter which was stored in the Eagle Nest Cabin. We used the brush saw from the cabin to the old steam engine and then used power saws for the rest of the trail. The climb from the steam engine to the summit is 1000 ft so there are some steep areas and the trail was washed out in places where a bypass was needed. Young pine and spruce were really taking over on the south facing slope so there was a lot of power saw work to get to the summit. Once we made the summit Dave, Kevin and Ntala spent a long day working down toward the Berland River as there was a lot of willow and birch brushing to do on the north end of the trail.
On August 18 ESRD supplied a four man fire crew for our use and Dennis Quintilio flew in with them to the junction of Pope Creek and the south Berland River. John Groat and Marty Kjos had cleared about 2 miles of the north end of the trail on August 17 and the fire crew completed clearing to the junction of the Moon Creek trail. The ride from the Eagles Nest Cabin to the south Berland River is a scenic 10 miles along Thoreau Creek and Pope Creek and the view from the summit both directions is worth the climb.
Porcupine Licks - July 2014
This year in 2014, RMWS has taken on two projects in July and August that would test the vigor of any bush man or woman.
Lyle Moberly organized a crew of 10 to clean up the trail from Porcupine Licks to the Rocky Pass. This trail has had little to no work done probably in the last fifty years. The crew arrived at Porcupine Licks on the 4th of July to start work on one of the most over grown, brushed in, windblown and water flooded trails anyone has ever seen! As work progressed it was soon realized it wouldn’t be possible to get through this trail hiking, mountain biking and especially not with a string of pack horses!
The heavy winds last fall did a number on the big timber with huge trees strewn in every direction. The willows growing over the trail had 3 inch diameters in places as well as the dog hair spruce pinching in on the trail.
There was some long days spent on this project which tested the strength of the crew, especially when temperatures reached into the +30’s side of the thermometer. The crew succeeded on the last day of the trip while refusing to take a day off as everyone wanted to finish! On the 12th day of July the boulders of Rocky Pass were reached with a great deal of satisfaction, knowing that the trail was re-opened to the RMWS standard of 8 feet width from camp to the pass.
The campground at Porcupine Licks was grown over with willows, so the crew cleaned them all out and made sure the woodpile was stocked up. The campground will now be a much better place for travellers.
This trip was made possible with a grant from the Alberta Conservation Association (ACA) and supported through our auction trail program where Bob Kallio stepped up to the plate.
RMWS extends its gratitude to both the ACA and Bob Kallio for believing in us and backing our trail crews on these very important projects.
Cutoff to 40 Mile Cabin
Yellow is the new by-pass trail on the map below
2013 Members Camp-Out and Ride at Hay River Equestrian Staging Area
Over the long weekend in September we had 25 members get together and do some recon on a couple of the area trails as well as a little clean-up on the Jackson Creek trail.
On Friday we rode the west end of the trail from the staging area to Seep Creek. The highlight of the trip was having two C.O.'s from the Alberta Parks along, as well as Bobby Jones and Mary Hulbert from "Michael Short's -Lets go Outdoors " The film crew filmed what we do when we are out clearing trails. The show will air sometime this winter and we will post the dates on the website. The Jackson Creek trail has had a lot of activity over the last two weeks with Dennis Quintilio and his crew spending four days working from the east end the week prior to our group arriving (Story below).
The trail still has some work required to complete the job which will be done early next year. This will be a great opportunity for members that are keen to pitch in but don't have the horse power to pack a camp further out in the back country to other trails needing attention.
All members involved with the camp out had a great experience with the camaraderie of those involved and getting to know each other. With the balmy weather the time we spent in the saddle or working on the trail was very enjoyable.
It has been 10 months since we sold our first membership and we are very pleased to report that our membership is at 118 members today and climbing!
I fee,l with the strong commitment from our directors and the copious enthusiasim of the members, great things are in line for our organization!
Thank you everyone who came to our camp out along with your zest, hard work and great food!
The Jackson Creek Trail Clearing Project
This trail is a historic route that stayed on the north side of the Wildhay River prior to construction of the bulldozer road that currently is used from the upper staging area at Rock Lake. Tom Vinson (horsebackadventuresltd.com) nominated the Jackson Creek trail as a RMWS project and following a Board meeting with Alberta Tourism, Parks and Recreation this February it was approved for 2014. The government Parks department supported the trail improvement as it avoids the crossing of the Wildhay on the bulldozer trail. They have rescued a number of trail riders during heavy rainstorm events which required helicopter evacuation and staff time commitments. Ken South and Dave Wildman(RMWS members) rode the Jackson Creek area in June and wrote a report estimating the extent of a trail clearing project and mapped the route by GPS. Following the completion of the Cutoff Creek trail project (which was ahead of schedule and under budget) the crew booked for that project August 22-27 moved up to Rock Lake to get a start on the Jackson Creek trail in 2013. About 80% of the trail work was completed and the rest should be done during the RMWS campout August 30 to September 1, which is one year ahead of schedule.
Jackson Creek Trail Crew:
Gail and Dave Wildman
Pauline and Wayne Quintal
Dennis and Leanne Quintilio
Clearing the Big Graves Trail
The RMWS has just completed another successful trip into the Willmore Wilderness Park in July 2013. Along with 3 board members and wives; Ken and Shelli Groat, Lyle, Denise & daughter Josie, Brian & Deana Bildson and members Bryan Allan, Larry Chapman and Alfie McDonald. As well as Andrew Manske, Virginia Moore and Andrew's two boys Kaleb and Koyote (Ky) Manske.
The trail from Big Graves to the junction where the river trail and upper trail meet was cleared extensively. There was a distance of just over 8 km along the Sulpher River cleaned up. Andrew and Virginia filmed the trail clearing activities and will do a presentation at our fall fundraiser and wind-up on October 26, 2013.
Lyle and Larry checked out the the lower river trail from the junction and found out it is no longer useable due to high water over the last two springs which washed away a large portion of the trail. So they carried on and cut out all the blowdown from Walton Creek crossing on the upper trail down to the junction of the river trail.
See the pictures below and also on facebook!
The North Berland Trail
The Rocky Mountain Wilderness Society is committed to doing both good advocacy work for the region we represent as well as on-the-ground projects that benefit the habitat and we the users of this wonderful resource.
In August of 2012 a team of 12 riders and 36 horses headed out from the Staging area at the Big Berland River, Willmore Wilderness Park, Alberta. Our hard-working team was able to clean up the trail from the Sunset Meadows campground along the North Berland trail all the way to the intersection of the Indian Trail.
This is a beautiful two day ride into the heart of the Willmore Wilderness and we're proud to say the society has cleared the trail to a very high standard. By cutting the trail open to between an 8' to 10' width we have improved both rider's comfort and safety.
Because of the huge success of the Cowboys Ball fundraiser for 2013; the Society looks forward to improving more habitat next season. We give thanks to all who attended and contributed!