This is the second part of my recent 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, 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 during our first visit in 1995, Jeremy Ayotte 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 thick 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, 25 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 scraped away, but it is apparent the climbers take care to avoid disturbing it. Three Revelstoke based rock-climbing enthusiasts, Manuela Arnold and Nic and Ryan Williams found the area one day in 2012 when the bridge was being re-built, and subsequently mapped and promoted it as a bouldering destination.
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 them. 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.