Chopping, wacking, hacking and hiking the Goat River Valley

The SLLP adventurers see the Goat Valley and the untouched nature.

Credit: Flickr / Rennett Stowe

Goat River Trail, August 13–14

The Goat River Trail is a 95-km route from the Goat River forestry road to the Bowerman lakes and through to Barkerville. Originally a wildlife and First Nation’s trail, it was used as a supply route during the Gold Rush. It is unique in that it is the only low elevation pass at 3,500 feet through the Caribou Range from the Wolverine to Barkerville. It was scouted as a potential rail route but it was found to be too narrow, with avalanche trails.

Roy Howard from the Fraser Headwater’s Alliance, with a small group, came up to our camp just after breakfast and set off along the trail with chainsaws. Our day’s objective was to clear the trail of fallen logs and overgrowth. Our group was split up with various hacking and chopping instruments and we walked up and down the trail clearing bushes and pulling the sawed logs off the trail.

I found myself in the foulest of moods come lunchtime. My belly was controlling my actions and I did not like the uncertainity of feeding time, foraging ahead while I knew the food was behind me.

I was also concerned with the purpose of the trip. There were some in the group concerned with observing the trail and becoming familiar and other who set the goal of making it to North Star to swim in the watering hole. My frustration and grumpy mood was aggravated by the good time everyone else seemed to be having. I kept chopping and then rested with Kaley when she was washing her boots, pants and socks after plopping knee deep into muck. Allison luckily gave me some sugar water and then Glenda came forward with our sandwiches, and I felt much better.

We worked for hours hacking through bush. Not feeling like much was being accomplished but as we walked back at the end of the day, you could see the difference that had been made.


The next day Doug took a small group of us up the ridge between the Goat and Milk Rivers. We followed the game trail up and pulled through sliding alder with our breaststroke stair climbing technique.

At the top we looked out along the Milk River valley and were met with the view of the whole valley bare with logged sections. It was such a contrast to being in the Goat and seeing the untouched nature. We were shown proposed logging plans for the Goat Valley, as well as the boundaries for a proposed Goat River Park. I found myself questioning the industry-versus-conservation debate.

What kind of logging practices should be allowed and how much land should be preserved in its natural state?