By Rose Schroeder, Chair Yarrow Chapter of Back Country Horsemen of BC
I suppose we did it to prove to BC Parks just how capable and proficient a bunch of volunteers we are and that we value our horse trails in E.C. Manning Park. Also to prove that “many hands make light work”. We called it the “Too Bridge Work Bee” because we went TO Manning Park TO repair Two bridges in Two days and TO ride TOO? Enter the Yarrow Chapter of the Back Country Horsemen of BC and its amazing volunteers!
Along with volunteering to take on a project to ensure your “Right to Ride”…or hike or bike…. comes picking the right project, building a relationship with the land manager and other users, taking care of safety concerns, organizing dates and materials and the work schedule. Once that is all done you can throw in some fun stuff like a potluck, singing around the campfire, games or just go for a ride on your horse!
The difficulty with being an equestrian user group is that we are fewer in numbers than say hikers or bikers. Please remember that most of the trails we all use today, in particular the historic and Heritage designated trails were originally built for and by horses. I include the lofty mule here too! Consider as well that a lot of our present day roads and highways now cover what was once a horse trail. So when things get tight, the larger user group’s needs are given priority. Is this fair? I cannot answer that question; I just know that is how it is. What we can do is pick up the slack and provide for our own needs. Because horse trails can accommodate most other recreational uses, we are then bettering them for everyone and bringing back the province’s world class trails as identified in the Trail Strategy for BC!
So… the Two Bridge Work Bee ended up benefiting not only equestrians’ but a lot of other users as well as BC Parks. For instance, the second bridge we built is on a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) which runs from Mexico back to Canada! Depending on how you look at it, the PCT either starts or ends in Manning Park. Way too cool! Many of the hikers we encounter are finishing a 5 month trek. There are a few horses and mules that have completed portions or the entire trail as well.
To build 2 bridges in 2 days, you need to pay heed to the first principle of Leave No Trace: Plan ahead and Prepare. The first bridge was easy – close to the road, only 10 feet long and 4 feet wide, made entirely of milled lumber. All the sill logs, stringers and decking planks were pre-cut so the volunteers quickly put it together on site. The most difficult task was dismantling the old rotten bridge and digging in the sill timbers. Out with the old and in with the new!
The material for these bridges was bought with dollars applied for from the BC Equestrian Trails Fund administered by Horse Council BC. Volunteers were provided by the Back Country Horsemen of BC and the work completed in partnership with BC Parks. A good example of how the Volunteer Strategy for BC Parks can make a difference. Well done everyone!
As Roy Rogers would say “Happy Trails to You!”