Guest Blog: EC Manning Park – Back Country Horsemen Opening Work Bee
Like everything we plan, it is always a good idea to keep your options open! So it was with the 4th annual opening of the Headwaters Corral Equestrian Campsite in EC Manning Park. The Campsite opens for the season the first weekend of July each year.
Headwaters Corral was built in partnership with BC Parks, Manning Park Resort and the Yarrow Chapter of Back Country Horsemen of BC (BCHBC). The opening weekend usually involves many volunteers pitching in to clean up the 7 parking pads, roofing the manure bin, installing signs, pulling weeds and chopping firewood. Volunteer crews also go out with Park Rangers to fix bridges and clear trails that are designated for horse use.
It takes a lot of volunteer help and donations to keep this project thriving. This year our major contributors were Emil Anderson Maintenance (EAM) and Horse Council BC (HCBC). EAM kindly donated and spread 11 loads of gravel needed to refresh parking pads and build the “bubbles”. Bubbles allow for a fire ring and picnic table at each site. Many thank you’s to Bob and Kenny for that! Cash funds for materials have been obtained through Grants from HCBC and BCHBC.
You might be wondering why this article started off with the need for options? Maybe a better term would be “flexibility”! Blessed are the flexible…..for they shall not be BENT out of shape…..when the plan changes! The original plan called for the Rangers and volunteers to re-deck bridge #4 on the Similkameen Trail. But once inspected it was found to be sound for horse traffic except for one board. That was a 30 minute fix…now what?
The Similkameen trail has 5 bridges before the Windy Joe intersection. Last year the deck on bridge #1 was completely re-done. This year #4 and #2 were slated for repair. But again… the original plan called for #2 to be done in September when the river is low and our decking milled.
But here we were with Rangers and volunteers so why not make #2 as safe as possible for summer traffic till Sept rolls around. It did mean a few more trips back and forth with the ATV to transport tools and materials. Later in the day a few of the volunteers contemplated sabotaging the ATV with a cheese sandwich in the gas tank, so we might call it a day and get on with the potluck!
With so many volunteers we were also able to start some trail clearing. The Rangers really appreciated the horses being able to pack saws and gear. This allowed them to labor harder and longer. Matter of fact we nicknamed them the “Power Rangers”! Rangers Eddie, Hayden and Nick were a pleasure to work alongside. The Similkameen trail was opened to almost Castle Creek. This is an important connecting trail to Monument 78, Monument 83 and the Pacific Crest Trail. Horses also carried a saw and gear along the Poland Lake Trail. It was cleared all the way to the hitch rail and then around the lake (horses are only allowed to the hitch rail). This trail goes up past the Gibson Pass Ski Hill. You can ride with a gorgeous 180 degree view of snowcapped mountain peaks at eye level!
It just feels good to help BC Parks keep traditional and sometimes historic trails open for horses and mules, hikers and mountain bikers. There were too many volunteers to name here but you know who you are. BCHBC, BC Parks and a whole lot of other users take their hats off to you!
You can find more information about the Headwaters Corral from the Visitor Center at Manning Park:
If you value EC Manning Provincial Park and want to be involved in preserving the history and trails consider joining Friends of Manning Park on its Facebook page.