By Andrea Arnold
The historic Goat River Trail received a much needed upgrade over the summer. A cable car, located approx. four kilometres from the Upper Goat Trailhead was given a new anchor system, providing more security for those who take on the adventure of the trail.
The new system consists of concrete pads and a steel A-frame on both sides of the river, said Fraser Headwaters Alliance president Roy Howard. One side has duckbill anchors, the other rock anchors.
The previous system was in place for 21 years. The cables had been attached to trees and frequently needed maintenance due to the trees breaking or becoming uprooted. The Fraser Headwaters Alliance received a Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure Program (CERIP) grant that funded the cable car as well as work done to improve the trail up to the crossing.
The new galvanized towers were flown in by helicopter and installed by Valemount-based Robson Design Builds Ltd. It took about a month of work to prepare the site and install the new system.
“From our original site visit to project completion, we spent 28 days working onsite,” said Project Manager Ross McKirdy. “Over 13 Site visits.”
The rigging was cut to length and ends were pre-crimped before they were transported to the site, said McKirdy.
“We hiked in with some equipment and fell danger trees and hand-scaled rocks,” he said. When the site was ready, the bigger supplies were flown in.
“Definitely the biggest challenge with this type of work is being remote and not having easy access to tools and machinery,” said McKirdy.
One of the other challenges the group faced was access. The high water levels in the spring made crossing the river unsafe; then fire season brought concern due to the tight valley, limited visibility, and limited helicopter availability.
In spite of challenges, McKirdy valued the experience. ““It was nice to see a local crew on the job. It was an enjoyable opportunity to spend time in the Goat River valley,” he said. “To see all the work Roy and the volunteers at Fraser Headwaters Alliance have done to preserve it.”
The actual cable car itself remains the same lightweight aluminum structure. It is capable of carrying one adult and a full pack at a time with a max working load limit of 230kg (507lbs). The individual riding the car pulls it across. Thanks to a second rope, a second person can help move the car from the safety of shore, especially as the car reaches the incline of cable on the far side. The car can be retrieved from either side during the hiking season. In the winter, it is tied to the McBride side of the river so that it doesn’t get stuck out in the middle above the water, bogged down by snow and possibly caught in the ice.
The distance between the new towers is 36 metres, and the new towers anchor the cable about half a metre higher than the previous set up. This will potentially increase the length of time in the year when safe crossings can be made over fluctuating spring runoff. It also has a turnbuckle that will allow for trained personnel to adjust the tension when needed.
“The trail is the most historic trail we have here in the valley,” said Howard. “We want to show how important the Upper Goat is as a wilderness area, and that it is more valuable as a public recreational asset.”
The trail is 50Km to the western trailhead, NE of Bowron Lake. It was pioneered in the late 1800s to link Barkerville to McBride. The Upper Goat trailhead (McBride side) is at a right fork, 13km on the Goat River Forest Service Road. The 3-5 day hike covers almost 50km, taking hikers by several campsites and across many creek crossings before the final destination, at the end of Kruger Lake Road, near Bowron Lake Provincial Park.
The Lower Goat trail is a 14-km, 1- day journey that takes hikers through an interior old-growth rainforest with huge western red cedar trees. The trailheads are located either from the Goat River rest area along Hwy 16, 5km on the Goat River Forest Service Road at Kopas Camp, or at the end of Prospect Road in Crescent Spur.