Multi-day hiking and the future of Clearwater

Urbanites across the globe are looking for something other than a Disneyland or a crowded beach

Editor, The Times:

Multi-day hiking experiences are becoming a popular type of travel experience, from the Himalayas to Western Europe to parts of North America.

Urbanites across the globe are looking for something other than a Disneyland or a crowded beach when they seek respite.

Some of my friends have sampled the Camino de Santiago, a medieval pilgrim route through France and Spain. The Camino is about 700 km in length, depending on the route chosen.

Everyone knows someone who has hiked B.C.’s West Coast Trail which is four or five days in length. And who hasn’t talked to someone who has hiked the Annapurna Circuit or the trail to Everest Base Camp in Nepal?

Newfoundland boasts the East Coast Trail, 300 km of wonderfully rugged seaside that intersects numerous villages which provide a cultural experience as well as places to stay. It’s worth noting that the ECT has provided a lifeline to ancient fishing villages whose economies were trashed following the predictable demise of the northern cod due to industrial over-fishing.

While doing searches related to Ireland’s holy mountain, Croagh Patrick, I came upon a website devoted to Irish hiking.

Yes, there were scads of hikes throughout all parts of the Emerald Isle. I could click on the map, find a route and read about it. However, as I did, I also noted comments expressing disappointment that portions of some hikes lay along busy roads. People want to get away from civilization, preferably in a safe, healthy, organized and beautiful environment. They want to get back to Nature. They don’t want roads.

If ever there was an opportunity for Clearwater, multi-day trekking is it. Without even getting into the park, I could see a five-day, circle hike beginning and ending in Clearwater.

The hiker would experience rivers, farmland, forests, waterfalls, the canyon-lands, alpine lakes, meadows and even a little volcano. The nice part is that nowhere would the hiker be more than a couple of hours away from a shortened trek, or a potential rescue. That all of this is less than two hours from an airport puts frosting on the cake.

Clearwater’s backyard trek along the Clearwater River, up to the Trophies, over Raft and back to town would allow for valuable experience that could be applied to other routes right in the park. A variety of jobs, such as porters, guides, maintenance personnel as well as in accommodation and entertainment, would be created. This is no pie-in-the-sky; it’s an opportunity staring us in the face.

Other than the will to get moving on such an alternate future, there’s just one problem. Canfor’s plan to clear-cut many hectares in the Clearwater valley will permanently ruin its tourist potential. It’s an either-or kind of choice.

Unlike the Newfoundland fishing villages that got a second chance, that won’t happen here because logging the Valley will create a remarkably unattractive wasteland. And, that will be that. End of the story.

Dave Simms

Clearwater, B.C.