By Andrea Arnold
The Ozalenka Alpine Club in McBride has just completed the new cabin located on their namesake’s trail. There has been a cabin near the Ozalenka Creek, roughly a seven kilometre hike from the trailhead, since 1989. The original was built by a team of volunteers.
“It was getting decrepit,” said club board member Roy Howard. “It was rotting. It was time for either a renovation or a replacement.”
The club decided a new cabin was the better option. In 2020, they were able to complete the foundation, but decided that they did not have the funds to continue the build. This spring, two years later, they received a gaming grant of $106,000 and on July 15th, building materials and some of the nine person crew from Salmon Arm were flown in by Yellowhead Helicopters. Other members of the crew hiked in to begin work.
Originally the hope had been to start construction in June. The helicopter pilot thought he might not be available to transport any later into the summer due to fire season. However, with the slow melt of the snowpack, his availability became more flexible. Also, the snow had not melted off the worksite as early as had been predicted.
The new cabin, a 16×20 square foot structure, is located about 50 metres to the south of the old cabin. It is taller than its predecessor, with a loft for added sleeping space. A large covered deck runs the length of the front of the cabin, and inside is a new wood stove.
“There is a solar panel, about twice the size of the old one, and new batteries,” said Howard. “There is plenty of power for lights and to charge cell phones or inreach devices. There are also new sleeping pads and firewood. Hopefully the woodshed is full by winter.”
The old cabin structure has to come down by order of Parks. At this time, the club isn’t sure what that process will look like. They would like to avoid another hefty air transport bill, but packing it all out isn’t a likely option. However, the removal has to be complete before the grant gets signed off on, so a decision needs to be made soon. Possibly, some of the salvageable materials will get repurposed into the new woodshed.
Howard and another volunteer made the trek into the build site on foot last week. They took with them a few items that the crew had realized they needed. The 9-person crew stayed in the old cabin and worked six days a week, beginning on July 15, 2022. Complete construction, aside from the fondation, took almost three weeks. The crew hiked down on Wednesday, August 13, 2022, leaving the completed new cabin after christening it the Glen Stanley Alpine Hut. Many other community members made the trek up to the cabin over the construction time to help the crew finish the project in only a few weeks.
“The crew was very good and capable,” said Howard. “I was impressed how well they all worked.”
Howard explained that the club had looked to local contractors, but they were unable to secure a commitment from anyone that would allow them to complete the cabin within their timeline.
There has been some work done on the trail leading to the cabin as well. Some work was completed to repair some washout areas. Howard says there is an area where part of a creek has deviated from its original bed under a bridge resulting in a wet crossing. Howard and another volunteer have created a temporary bridge that links up to the original bridge, but they are looking for a longer term solution to the issue.
Also available near the cabin are several tent pads and an outhouse. Visitors to all sites, cabin and tent, are asked to clean and remove garbage when they leave.
Access to the trail starts on the Dore River Forest Service Road. Six kilometres in, follow the right fork with signs for Ozalenka. After eight kilometres, take another right, also marked Ozalenka. Four kilometres more, and you will arrive at the well marked parking area and trailhead.
Porcupines eating wires or lines off vehicles are an issue at this trailhead. Users are advised to use the designated fenced in parking area, or bring their own chicken wire to wrap around their car.
Glen and Elsie Stanley, founders of the Ozalenka Alpine Club and instrumental in the construction of the first cabin, are thrilled that this new cabin has been completed.
“A heartfelt thank you to all who helped in any way,” said Elsie.
She listed those who helped with road and trail maintenance, planning and organizing, grant administration, provision of building supplies, building the foundation, folks who carried heavy supply loads and the amazing crew.
“The cabin is a work of art, and we trust that all who stay there will be blessed by both the lovely building, and the surroundings – the peaceful meadows, lakes and mountains,” she said.
Like the previous cabin, the new cabin will be available to rent year round. The trail is passable by ski or snowshoe in the winter months. Access to the trailhead through the snow requires a snow machine. Rental information for both the Ozalenka cabin as well as the other club maintained cabin, Eagle Valley, is available at https://ozalenkaalpineclub.ca/bookings/