For people in wheelchairs and people with mobility issues who need walkers, canes or crutches to help them walk, there is now a nice, smooth, low-angle loop trail that winds for about one kilometre through trees and bushes and open areas on the south side of Strawberry Pass (Nancy Greene Summit), in the Rossland Range Recreation Site.
Designed to make the beauty of this regenerating forest and a bit of old-growth accessible to all, the trail is the brain-child of Area B director Linda Worley. She approached the Friends of the Rossland Range (FORR) at an AGM, for advice about where such a trail might go, and the directors immediately thought of the route that the trail now follows.
Worley supplied $10,000 from Area B of the Regional District to see if the idea was feasible, and Area B donated another $25,000 toward its completion. Those funds, combined with other grants from Columia Basin Trust and some funds from the Trails and Rec Sites branch of government -- plus volunteer energy -- made it all possible. FORR director Rob Richardson promptly volunteered to spearhead the effort, and consulted with various experts on the needs of prospective users before finalizing the route and beginning work on clearing it.
The trail is surfaced with a smooth layer of compacted “crusher fines” – the waste from crushing rock for road-beds – from West K Sand & Gravel.
On Tuesday, October 6, 2020, a group of the people responsible for turning the trail from a vision into a reality met at Strawberry Pass with a few other interested souls, and walked (or wheelchaired) the accessible trail from the parking lot to Booty’s cabin, where they gathered and said a few words about the trail, then completed the loop back to the parking area.
Linda Worley (below) was there, and expressed her gratitude to everyone who made her vision a reality.
Kim Deane, chair of the FORR board, provided a brief history of the trail, acknowledged the many contributions toward its completion, including funding from Regional District, Rec Sites and Trails, and Columbia Basin Trust. He noted that the biggest cost in building the trail was operating the machinery to haul the surfacing material in, spread it and compact it.
Justin Dexter, the District Recreation Officer for Trails and Rec Sites BC, and his colleague Travis Mitchell, Recreation Technician, attended from their office in Nelson, and Dexter modestly credited “the community” for getting the trail done, downplaying his own role. “All I did was deal with the bureaucratic channels,” he said.
Rosslander Kyle Hahn test-drove the trail in his manually-powered wheelchair, and expressed his joy at having the trail available. “It will be wonderful to be able to come out here with my dog, without having to call in a whole team of people to make it possible.” His brother Brent Hahn came along too.
Rob Richardson, who had championed the project and made it all happen, noted the two pull-outs along the trail; they will have benches for people who need a bit of rest part-way. He explained that the wheelchair ramp (shown below) enabling access to Booty’s cabin will not be in place once it snows.
Les Carter, another FORR director who was involved in planning the route, rode his touring bicycle from Rossland to attend.
Al Fisher and his partner Ruth Grubisic honoured the occasion, accompanied by lawyer Rod Holloway of Vancouver, demonstrating that the trail is suitable for those who now walk slowly and with canes. Fisher received the Queen`s Diamond Jubilee Medal in February, 2013, and was inducted into the UBC Sports Hall of Fame in 2003; he had served as a volunteer coach for the UBC ski team from 1956 to 1969. According to Nancy Greene-Raine, "The great thing about Al Fisher is that he has influenced so many people in so many different sports. He has always been someone who gave unselfishly, not seeking glory, but giving because of his passion for sport and fitness."
Worley explained that she has suffered from hip disease since 1983, and has two new hips. She has long missed “being out there” and realized that there was nothing in the region to enable people with mobility challenges to get away from roads and highways – to get out among trees and, as she put it, “enjoy this beautiful piece of earth we live on, and realize the value of preserving it.” She said that once she had put the idea to the FORR board, “they ran with it – I couldn’t believe how quickly they made it happen!”
Standing by Booty’s cabin, Justin Dexter commented, “If you had told me six years ago that in 2020 we would have this Recreation Site with all the new day-use shelters completed, and this accessible trail, I would not have believed it!”