All those who thought that Tolkien only wrote fantasy, beware. The ORCs are coming.
When the new position of Outdoor Recreation Co-ordinator (ORC) was proposed, a few warning bells went off in my head. Outdoor Recreation Co-ordinator. Kind of like the Party Co-ordinator - the person who tells everyone else how to have fun. In all seriousness, though, the position is a dangerously vague one. People seek outdoor recreation because of its boundless possibility. It's about adventure and exploration, and while most people do plan their expeditions and days out, I doubt they want someone else making those plans for them.
We are at a watershed moment in Squamish. The community is growing and developing quickly, and the evolution of our identity is going to happen whether we participate in that process or not. No one would argue that the majestic surrounding wilderness is the major attraction of Squamish. People aren't here for the shopping. So if they are coming to Squamish for outdoor recreation opportunities, and eco-tourism becomes the major focus of the diversification of our economy, then we are creating a conflict.
With expansion of eco-tourism comes area leases for adventure tour operators, increased impact on the backcountry and conflicts with independent outdoor recreationists.
We need to define the role of an Outdoor Recreation Co-ordinator, and the objective behind the creation of such a position.
In November, one of my readers contacted me about extensive trail cutting in the Tricouni area, an area popular with snowmobilers and leased by a Cat-skiing operation. A few hikers heading up there in the fall were stunned by the careless falling of trees to create a winter trail. Unfortunately those trees ended up right across the hiking trail effectively blocking it off from use. The responsible party was never identified, but these kinds of conflicts are exactly what we can expect with the growing demands on our natural playground. Anyone who has visited Burgers and Fries in the Smoke Bluffs is familiar with this controversy. As a great locale for first timers, it makes a fine teaching ground. However, when a particular climb is monopolized for commercial purposes it begs the question: what is public land anyway?
The needs of the outdoor community are very diverse, from the explorer, who needs nothing but wits and wilderness to create their experience, to the casual hiker, who simply wants a peaceful stroll in a quiet setting, and the assurance that they will not get lost. In meeting the needs of the latter, we often over-regulate the environment and eliminate the unknown. Not everyone wants a safe, predictable "adventure".
For many, half the thrill is not knowing how things will turn out. Squamish has always been a haven for these explorers, and their courage, will and pioneering spirit are celebrated in magazines, local media and even films such as In The Shadow of the Chief. I doubt those stories would be as compelling in a more controlled environment.
Adventure tourism is a great thing and a good tour can open up a world of possibility and excitement for more conservative recreationists. However, the spirit of outdoor recreation is one of exploration, communion with nature and freedom. These are the elements which we must preserve and guard against over-regulation. An outdoor coordinator who cares for the interests of all recreationists would be a welcome thing here in the Sea to Sky coordinator, but if that position is driven by the needs of tourism, economics and exploitation of our wilderness, then go plan someone else's party. This one is rolling along just fine.
The Dirt on the Outdoors
Roller workouts run every Tuesday and Thursday until March to help burn off that winter flab and get ready for the upcoming season. We have riders of all flavours out, so don't be intimidated. The workouts are about an hour long (a little longer towards the mid-point). We roll at the PacWest building (the old Irly Bird across from the Brew Pub). The doors open at about 6:40 p.m., and the clock starts at 7 p.m. Bring your own bike, (quiet) trainer, water, etc.
Ice Climbing Report 2003-04
The ice climbing conditions report will once again appear on the website this winter. It is at http://casbc.bivouac.com/ice0304.htm (eventually at www.casbc.ca). Reports and information welcome! There will be a logbook at the Cookhouse Restaurant in Lillooet, for climbers to record conditions of climbs, etc., and the store in Marble Canyon will set up a maximum/minimum thermometer to record temperatures.
Lillooet Ice Festival 2004
The fourth annual Lillooet ice climbing festival will be on Feb. 7-8. They are hoping to have some clinics and gear try outs, plus there will be snowmobile access to Phair Creek, and boat access to Seton Lake climbs. Information will be on the ice climbing web page http://casbc.bivouac. com/ice0304.htm (eventually at www.casbc.ca).
Check out the avalanche risk before you hit the backcountry at www.avalanche.ca
The Squamish premiere of In the Shadow of the Chief: The Baldwin & Cooper Story is next Friday (Feb. 6) at Eagle Eye Theatre, Howe Sound Secondary School at 7 and 9 p.m. Silent Auction 6-9 pm. This is a fundraiser for the Don Ross Outdoor Leadership Program. Tickets are $10 and available at Climb On!, Valhalla Pure, Don Ross & Howe Sound Secondary Schools.