Craig's Report - July 30, 2007
Way Too Hot
It has been a scorching July in Fernie, with the highs on our outside thermometer exceeding 30 C for all but a couple of days. Fortunately there was one decent rain storm mid-month, but still things are getting pretty dry and the fire hazard is now high, although not yet extreme according to the sign down by the highway.
July also brought the opening of the lifts for the two month summer season, with the Elk chair running every day and the Timber chair open on the weekends. A couple of wind storms and resulting electrical problems kept the Elk chair down for the first few days and the whole operation down on another occasion, but otherwise things appear to be going smoothly.
Recently signs have appeared which prohibit hiking in the bike park and given the prominent placement of two on the main road leading up from the base area, these could be interpreted as meaning pretty much the entire mountain. I spoke with the fellow in charge of the bike trails and it seems they have not definitively determined their policy on hiking, but they definitely want to prevent hikers on the bike trails at least. Having seen how poorly oblivious sight seeing families and testosterone driven downhill demons mix on the same trail, the reasons for the concern would seem obvious.
Of course this would seem to imply that bikers with the temerity to fall on a trail or even worse, wussy enough to walk down a section that proved beyond their capabilities would be fair game and an even bigger and less nimble target than a hopefully observant hiker. However the reality is that the bikers are the bread and butter of the summer operation and I suspect some of the less patient ones complain bitterly if anything impedes their downward plunge. Signage notwithstanding and unless I am told otherwise, I will assume there should be no problem continuing to hike the new side when the Timber chair is not open to the public.
It does sound like they might revisit the issue next year and may have more options for hiking, besides the couple of trails at the tops of the lifts. However they are a business, it is their land and they have little to gain and possibly much to lose from folks who aren't buying a lift ticket. Thus, unless you wish to ride up Timber and climb up for the great views from Polar Peak, folks coming to Fernie to hike would probably be better off avoiding FAR. Island Lake has some great trails which are well marked and maintained and the scenery is spectacular. In addition there are many great trails all around Fernie, although these are sometimes a bit harder to find and follow. Alas none are right outside my door though. :-)
At 16:30 it is a sunny 33 C at the house, but mercifully there is a bit of wind.