GIMME SHELTER -- in the Rossland Range Recreation Site

Sara Golling
By Sara Golling
July 13th, 2016

Things are happening up in those hills, and if they aren’t happening yet, they’re being planned.  Here’s an update for those who want to know.

Old, rat-infested shelters are being replaced with new, rodent-proof ones.   Many of us held those old, often tarp-covered “huts” dear,  nurturing our memories of cosy warmth,  socializing and chewing on slightly scorched cheese sandwiches  after a trek on skis or snowshoes.  Let’s face it, the illicit, outlaw nature of those shelters also had a certain charm.  Many  bemoaned the thought of their replacement with shiny new government-authorized day-use cabins (oops, we’re supposed to call them “shelters.”  Sorry!)

A recent trek up a trail, with stops at the old Eagles’ Nest shelter and the old Sunspot shelter, however, changed at least one mind.   It was the sight of all those rat droppings on every horizontal surface, and the accompanying strong and offensive stench, that did the job — and impelled the hikers onward and upward to the new Lepsoe Basin shelter.  It’s clean.  It has a lovely view.  All it needs is a little more ventilation, to keep the interior from streaming with condensation — one thing about the old shelters; they had ample ventilation!  All that ventilation resulted in occasional snowdrifts — inside.

More of the new shelters are being built, and the old rat palaces are being removed.  The process is being facilitated by the Friends of the Rossland Range Society (FORRS), under an official agreement with the Forestry branch,  and a Management Plan.  So what’s happening now?   So far, the old Mosquito cabin is gone, replaced by the new and hugely popular Mosquito.   Further along, the new Viewpoint shelter has replaced the old one, and sports the most beautiful door ever seen on any shelter, old or new,  painted by local artist Jenny Baillie.   The new Lepsoe Basin shelter has replaced the old Berry Ridge shelter — now removed.  It’s not in the same place, though — it’s higher up, on the upper edge of the clearcut in Lepsoe Basin.

Sunspot will be replaced by a new shelter, probably this summer, on a nearby knoll with an improved view and potentially even more sunshine.   The Lepsoe family is donating funding for a new stove for a new Sunspot.

Not so Secret cabin, in the Elgood Creek valley, is slated for a replacement a bit further up the valley.  The builders of the Igloo cabin, in the valley on the north side of Mt. Plewman, are grappling with how to  improve it, how to make it easier to heat, and how to rodent-proof it.

Rock’n’Roll cabin, abandoned and deteriorating,  will be replaced by a new cabin this summer in a location nearby.  The new cabin will be called Chimo  but its builders have rescued as much of the old rock & roll memorabilia as remained, and plan to feature it in the new shelter.  More news  on that will appear  in a later edition.

There will be logging next year in Spider Valley, where the shy and tiny old Barking Spider shelter hides;  that shelter will become history  with the logging operation, and only time will tell whether or not any new shelter will  ever replace it.

Crowe’s Nest on the slopes of Mount Crowe is not on the  list of shelters to replace or renovate. 

Surprise cabin, so nearly demolished last winter by a massive series of blow-downs that thundered to earth right beside it,  is slated for replacement this summer and fall.   The new structure  will be the “entry-way” shelter, with some interpretive material about the Recreation Site and honouring the original hut builders who established the concept that self-propelled recreation is an important community use for our hills and forests, and eventually forced the government to acknowledge that.   

Parking has long been a problem at the Nancy Greene Summit.  Plans are underway to alleviate it by creating more parking space.  

Many skiers and snowshoers have  noticed how difficult it is now to shoulder a route through some of the pine (and prickle-bush) plantations in the area.  Plans are afoot to do some forestry-approved “thinning” which will make it easier to forge new winter routes, and will also benefit the young trees.  

A popular saying asserts that change is the only constant.  Among many other changes in our world,  we now have an official Recreation Site for the Rossland Range, which acknowledges the value of free public self-propelled  recreation;  shelters are changing to cleaner and safer places, not subject to being torn down by Forestry’s Compliance Branch; and more and younger community members (from near and far) are getting involved in building and maintaining “our” shelters.   Watch this space for news of  more changes, in due course.

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