Tuck Lake Trail Building Update

tuck lake trail building update

The weekend of August 11/12 was sunny and hot – perfect conditions to build trail through gorgeous geography and follow it up with a swim in pristine Francis Lake.  Thanks go to Cassandra and Melanie Elphinstone, Ross Collicutt and  Jay Rastogi (our trail boss extraordinaire) from Nanaimo, and to Paul and Gil from Victoria, for their hard work, and Robert and friends Judy and Harold Carlson for coming up from Port Alberni to help with the route-finding.

The Runners Trail from Headquarters Bay on the Alberni Inlet extends to a boulder beach on the northwestern end of Francis Lake – this is one end of the Tuck Lake section of the VI Spine Trail.   Robert Gunn, VISTA’s Regional Coordinator for the Alberni Clayoquot region, led off from the boulder beach with a couple of very experienced local trail-builders to look for the best route along the lake. Some of us followed Robert, flagging and brushing  to mark the trail from one end of Francis Lake to the other.  

We crashed through heavy brush into the timber above the lake, and then kept within a few meters of the lake.  We easily crossed a few dry creeks.  About halfway along we found we were on the remnants of an old skidder road, and saw a few artifacts, like the rusty cast-iron door of a wood stove.  We marked the route with orange flagging, and generally followed existing yellow flags, likely placed when the Runners Trail was planned.

At the eastern end of the lake we met up with our second group of volunteers. They had started at the outlet end of the lake at Nadira Road and worked their way westward through dense brush.

A third group of volunteers started at  Nadira Road and fanned out in a northeasterly direction to find a route up toward the pass.  

Paul used his 4X4 to ferry our gear up a creekbed to the boulder beach and six of us spent a quiet night camped there. We swam in the still water and watched the newts – does anyone know why they are all the same rusty-brown colour? We woke to the sound of a loon, then got down to business.  Ross and Jay flagged a route from Nadira Road up toward the pass. They started about 100 meters north of the bridge and flagged a trail between the creek and the road, then rejoined the rest of the group. The rest of us spent Sunday working on the trail from Nadira Road to Francis Lake. Starting just beyond the bridge, we climbed up an embankment, down into a ditch, walked toward the bridge for a few meters and then up into the timber. We worked on the trail with mattocks, shovels and clippers and once you get in a few meters from the road the trail should be quite obvious.  Red flagging tape with black printing is found further up the slope and is not VISTA’s.

We had a snack on the banks of the creek (watching a crayfish and wondering whether it would taste like chicken), we finished our work for the day, enjoyed another lovely swim in the lake, and set out for the drive home.

If you would like to see the work we are doing on the Tuck Lake Trail, please feel free to explore the trail, but please don’t move the orange flagging. You will  need to be completely self-sufficient and know how to look after yourself in the backcountry.  At the point, the trail is still under development and we suggest that if you want to enjoy it, you bring your own good topographic map and a compass or GPS.  

Thanks to all the volunteers for their efforts this weekend.

We will be having more weekend trail building sessions this summer. If you would like to volunteer, please email Gil at vispinetrail@gmail.com.  Check back here for the dates of the next sessions.