Malakwa – Gateway to mountain adventure

Swinging Bridge over the Eagle River

Malakwa is a resourceful community that when faced with challenges, finds a way to continue thriving. Most of us speed by the tiny hamlet of 500 people on the four-lane freeway unaware of its virtues, its possibilities and its rich history. Despite Malakwa’s shuttered sawmill, burnt-out truck stop, public school closure and decrepit community centre, the Community Centre Association has persevered to provide services and help maintain a strong community spirit.

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North Fork Wild dream now a reality

One of many new walkways in the park

Peter Jennings would be extremely pleased with the progress made towards his vision of North Fork Wild. The Shuswap is a richer place thanks to Peter’s generosity and foresight, as he donated his 21 hectares to the CSRD in 2012 for a park. The network of trails constructed by Peter and his close friend Gerald King have been vastly improved and are already being well used by the public and school groups.

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Living the dream in Seymour Arm

Bughouse Bay & Seymour Arm with Hunakwa Lake in the distance, circa 1995 Photo by Myron Kozak

If any of the 80 full-time residents of the Shuswap’s most remote community of Seymour Arm were asked why they choose to live there, the answer would likely be because they appreciate the peace and quiet. And it was certainly peaceful on September 12th when I drove there to interview a few locals, take some photos and enjoy a hike. Serenity can be elusive however during the summer, when most of the 500 homes and summer cabins are full, campgrounds are packed and boats of all sizes and shapes fill the bay.
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Many opportunities for camping in the Shuswap

Visit the Sites and Trails website to find a camping site or trail to visit

One need not despair over the lack of camping spaces in BC Provincial Parks, because there are over 40 recreations sites in the Shuswap. And, as a bonus, these sites provide more of a wilderness-like experience than the parks. You can locate these campgrounds using either a map book or the website, sitesandtrailsbc. As well, there are a number of smaller, lesser-known parks that do not fill up with pre-bookings.

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Finding solutions to the housing shortage

 

 

Frank Bugala addresses the workshop group, photo by Fred Bird

Every year a group of key Shuswap “movers and shakers” come together under the auspices of the group Plan B:E to discuss sustainable options for improving the local economy by linking business, artistic and environmental values. This year the third “Respect Lives Here” workshop was held at the Adams Lake Indian Band’s Pierre’s Point Centre and was hosted by Band Chief Robin Billy.
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What makes Anglemont so successful?

Angle Mountain above Magna Bay

A hillside community nearly at the end of the paved highway in the North Shuswap, Anglemont is somewhat of an enigma, as despite its isolation it continues to thrive throughout the year. During a recent visit to Anglemont, I hiked the new trail into Evelyn Falls, toured the massive log inn and met with the president of the Community Centre, Fay Begin, to get a sense of what makes the community tick. Looking back on my way home, the fresh snow atop Angle Mountain, named by George Dawson in 1877 for the angle formed by the Seymour Arm of Shuswap Lake, glistened in the sun.
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More places to explore in the Shuswap

Pushing my bike up this trail was tedious, while the return trip down was exciting

Over the last few weeks, I have been visiting various locations in order to capture more images needed for my book, Everything Shuswap, which is now in production. Trips to the Larch Hills twice, Mt. Ida, and Scotch Creek have reinforced my appreciation for the amazing diversity of ecosystems, the magnificent vistas and the excellent trail networks we have in the Shuswap. For those who live in or near Salmon Arm, the nearby Larch Hills provide a wealth of opportunities.
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Bear Creek flume trail steeped in history

The first new bridge over the creek at the beginning of the trail

Many hikers were disappointed when the Bear Creek Flume Trail in Roderick Haig-Brown Park was closed last year due to a washout and decayed bridges that were no longer safe to cross. Fortunately, BC Parks was able to fund the reconstruction of the trail during the last few months. Four new steel bridges, new stairs, and cedar handrails have been installed by a contractor, which has vastly improved the route. The trail remains officially closed however, because the last bridge has yet to be replaced. (Latest news – BC Parks is planning to open the trail soon up to the last bridge)
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An expedition into the Mara alpine

The view of the foggy valley from the shoulder of Morton Peak

With a goal to visit every part of the Shuswap, it was time to explore Hunters Range and attempt to hike to the forest fire lookout. After studying the maps and trail guide, our group headed out early in the morning via the Owlhead route on a glorious fall day.

Trail map from shuswaptrails.com

At the beginning, the trail through the mixed age spruce and balsam forest was well worn and clearly marked, and the blazes on the trees looked 50 to 75 years old. But as we neared the alpine, we were thankful that one hiker had a GPS as there was no longer a visible trail or markers.
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Lakeside living at its best


In its early days, Magna Bay was a thriving settlement, where the first wave of “back to the land” settlers eked out a living by farming the land and cutting ties and firewood for the CPR. There was an intense rivalry between Celista and Magna Bay then, which likely was a factor behind the decision to build in 1919 what was then the largest school in the region just across from the Magna Bay government wharf. It became the centre for many cultural activities, including theatre productions, until the Celista Hall was built in 1934.

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