Building bridges between user groups in Tumbler

Charles Helm


This photo, taken by Gilles Goddard, is of the first twenty metres of the hiking trail to the Shipyard-Titanic area. This trail, developed and maintained by the Wolverine Nordic and Mountain Society (WNMS) volunteers, has become one of the most iconic Geopark attractions, given its magnificent rock formations and the excitement of trying to get to the prow of the Titanic Rock when conditions are not too wet and windy.

The photo just depicts a bridge followed by sets of stairs, but context is all-important, as it reveals some wonderful co-operation between various groups and agencies. The problem with this first bit of trail was that there was a ditch to cross, followed by an annoyingly steep bedrock section that created challenges for trail development.

Moose ATV Club from Fort St John became aware of the WNMS trail system, and drove all the way to Tumbler Ridge with three bridges, donating them to WNMS. One of these was used to cross this ditch. How did it get from town to the trailhead in the mountains? Doug Beale and his staff transported it there with their picker truck, and expertly dropped it in place, as well as placing another of the donated bridges nearby for the Tarns and Towers Trail.

Somehow Dr Louw’s backyard staircase was used for the next section, but the steep piece above it proved formidable, and attempts at rustic steps were suboptimal. When Gilles Goddard, recently retired, heard about this, he immediately offered to help, obtaining supplies through the WNMS account at Tru Hardware, making repeated trips to the site to ensure the snow had gone, then using his carpentry skills to produce a fine staircase. With two volunteer accomplices the finished product was installed by Gilles two weeks ago, in time for the busy summer hiking season.

This simple photo is therefore a symbol of the remarkable spirit that exists in Tumbler Ridge and the region between various groups, and the wonderful volunteer work that gets done by people like Gilles. The result is a trail system that we can all be proud of, and that acts as a beacon to bring visitors to our Geopark and further diversify our economy through tourism.