Friday, August 17, 2012

Hiking the trail on Joss

One of the best feeling in life is to walk on snow in the summertime.

Luckily, we've had a bit of that this summer, under especially clear and visibility unlimited skies.  Another best feeling in life is to look up at the sky when there is no moon and you don't have to freeze your butt off!

Two nights of a stellar milky way and the aurora glow backlighting the mountains looking north is enough to make me smile.  I think if we sent all the world leaders up into the space station maybe then we'd get some effort on protecting this very special planet we live on.
Maybe they just don't realize what we have...

As the summer days wind down, it seems like when we get up into the upper alpine the bugs are the worse.  The blueberry bushes are still flowering like it's mid July and the bears appeared to be low in the valleys with lots of grass in their poop.  We saw one bear sign that looked like it had found berries, but most we saw didn't.  Of course we talked on the trail and yelled "yo bear" just to make sure we didn't surprise any.  It is grizzly country but the wildlife we saw consisted of picas, squirrels, and a very friendly chipmunk whose home was up at the lookout we went to.
A considerable amount of lookouts were built by the Dominion Government to protect the timber in the Railway Belt.  In 1880 the Dominion Government granted to the C.P.R a strip of land extending twenty miles on each side of the main line in return for building the railway. This was known as the Railway Belt and included all of Hunters Range. This Railway Belt, incidentally, was turned over to the Provincial Government in 1930.  The Railway Belt, although it was still administered by the federal government, actually belonged to the railway. Joss Mountain Lookout was built in 1921, Eagle Pass in 1922 and Mara Mountain, one of three peaks on Hunters Range, in 1925. All the lookouts had trails and telephone lines into them.*  In 1930 the Joss Mtn lookout was decommissioned.  It was restored in 2005 by Columbia Helicopters with the BC Fire Service, they put a new roof on it and put up new windows.

The area is also the headwaters of the Shushawp River which is pretty cool since all the water goes into the lake that provides summer swimming enjoyment for thousands of Albertans and Shushawp residents.  This is a place kept secret apparently, but just as scenic as Revelstoke without the park fee (and several clearcuts in the valley bottom at various stages of regeneration).  Plus you could sleep in the lookout for free!
Some mountain bikers had found it though and they made it to the top evidenced by their registration in the lookout notebook.  I doubt I'd ever mtn bike it as hiking was good enough for me, but Mark would consider it I'm sure.  It's not like anyone banning riding mtn bikes on crown lands, and luckily it's a little too rugged to ride in on an ATV to prevent that ATV-kind-of-mtn-meadow damage.  But in the wintertime a smart snowmachine rider could easily find their way up there - and it looked like several parties did last winter.  Just hope everyone packs their trash out.

*Referenced from

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