Exploring Tumbler Ridge

The simple title of this new publication by Tumbler Ridge?s famous GP quite frankly doesn?t do the book justice. This is not just a book about exploring Tumbler Ridge and the surrounding area. This is a book that proclaims, ?Tumbler Ridge is the finest place in the world! Come experience it with me! But first sit down and I?ll tell you of the history of the town and the countryside? I?ll tell you of the palaeontological processes that formed this area, and how they are being studied today. Then I?ll tell you of the archaeological history ? of the indigenous people who roamed this area; of the pioneers and explorers who first came and mapped it; of the modern folk who built the town and the trails around it. I?ll tell you of the birds and other wonders of the area. And then I?ll tell you in detail how you can get out and enjoy them all.?

To call the book a hiking guide would be understating its intention. True, there are nearly fifty hiking trails described, each one with a map and a description of how to get to it, of how long it is, how much time it will take and how strenuous it is; but the book goes beyond that. In many cases, there are stories relating to the trails – of the people who built them and the adventures that they and others experienced, which all makes for fascinating reading. The harrowing tale of what happened to Nathan Bernadet and Kris Swanson on Bulley Glacier Peak is one such example. (I?m not going to tell you what transpired ? you?ll have to read the book!).

The author?s description of the trails and activities in the area is written from first-hand experience. The good doctor has hiked, biked, run, climbed, built, cleared, repaired, clambered, scaled, waded, rappelled, swam and even crawled through some of the destinations he describes. And he always remembered to take his camera with him, for the book is full of excellent full-colour photographs.

But the pièce-de-résistance of this book is the map that comes with it. Dr. Helm painstakingly worked with Jeremy Miedema of McElhanney Geomatics to produce a fold-out 27″ by 30″ (68.5 cm by 76 cm) topographical map of the Tumbler Ridge area that is inserted into the book. This map shows all the trailheads in the numbered sequence that they appear in the book. And the back of the map has a fascinating three-dimensional representation of Tumbler Ridge and the surrounding area, drawn by local artist Joan Zimmer, that gives the reader a more meaningful perspective than a simple ?bird?s eye view? would. To top it off, the map is plasticized so that it is waterproof. This isn?t one of these heavy plastic coatings that you can sometimes get on ?heavy-duty? road maps that you can buy at the gas station. This map has a light coating that almost gives the material the feel of fine linen. So when you are wading across a stream, with your boots full of water and the sandwiches in your pocket getting soggy, you won?t have to worry about your map being damaged. It?ll survive just fine! (And I won?t suggest that you wrap your sandwiches with the map. That would be almost sacrilegious!).

To sum up, this is a book that deserves a place on the bookshelf of every person who loves the outdoors. From the person who just enjoys a stroll in the wild to sit on a hillside and watch a herd of elk across the valley or perhaps to contemplate a 93-million year old dinosaur footprint; to the person who loves the challenge of a mountain climb or a cave exploration; to the person who simply enjoys relaxing at home reading about outdoor ventures. Mind you, although it belongs on your bookshelf, it also really belongs in your backpack. Hmm? I suppose the answer to that problem is to buy two copies!