[This is the second part of a column about a landscape southeast of Three-Valley Gap that conservationists first learned about from local foresters and was subsequently protected in the Okanagan Shuswap Land and Resource Management Planning process five years later.]
When the area finally received park status in 2004, 99 hectares, which includes most of the old growth forest and a section along the creek was removed due to concerns from the mining sector about access. Although it is not in the park, the excluded portion has minimal protection by a map notation and thus it is highly unlikely that logging will ever be allowed.
On the way up the road on the first visit, Jeremy and I were intrigued by a rough trail we observed on the west side of the creek next to the bridge. After we ended our search for the giant cedar, we briefly hiked into what we discovered was an enchanted landscape, unlike anywhere else we had been in the Shuswap. The mist from the creek provided the perfect environment for ancient moss to grow thickly on the large boulders that may have been deposited there as the glaciers receded. A few weeks later, I returned with my wife Kathi to search again for the giant cedar and spend more time exploring the mystical English Creek landscape.
Now, twenty-five years later, this designated old growth management boulder area remains nearly pristine, aside from some new trails, a funky single log bridge and numerous signs.
Some of the moss may have scrapped away, but it is apparent that the climbers take care to avoid disturbing it. Three Revelstoke based rock-climbing enthusiasts, Manuela Arnold and Nic and Ryan Williams found the area in 2012 and subsequently mapped and promoted it as a bouldering destination after finding the area one day when the bridge was being re-built.
According to their Revelstoke bouldering website, “The Englishman” with its solid gneiss rock is the region’s premier destination. The website map shows a total of 33 climbing routes in six bouldering areas with names like Jigsaw, Whirlpool, Obelix and Headbanger. Each of the routes is rated for grade and quality, and has a description for how best to climb each one.
Plus, there are links to three YouTube videos that show how it can take multiple efforts to successfully reach the top. As yet, the area is not listed on the BC Rec Sites and Trails website, but when it does, hopefully there will be an outhouse installed and a large sign at the trail head that advises users to stay on the trail and avoid disturbing the fragile vegetation.
Another website, Revelstoke Trails, provides this information about the site:
ENGLISH BOULDERS CLIMBERS TRAIL
Rating: 3 stars. (not for the trail but the scenic beauty of the spot)
Use: Bouldering area, hiking.
Distance: 500 m.
Description: A recently developed spot for the bouldering crowd in Revelstoke. If you just want to get out of the house and have a short walk in the woods this is a pretty cool spot. The huge moss covered boulders amazing to see even if you aren’t much of a climber. Please stay on the established trails. It wouldn’t take much to totally trash this place and kill the moss. Be respectful.
Directions: Drive west on Highway 1. Just before the Three Valley Gap Resort hand a left onto the Three Valley – Victor FSR. Follow this road past a couple of forks. Take the left fork onto Branch 100. This road will lead you into the English Creek drainage. Park at the newly rebuilt bridge that crosses the Creek. Look for the trail on the west/downstream side of the bridge.
Feature Problem #1 Headbanger
More photos by William Eaton: