Article written by Jo Anne Malpass for the North Shuswap Kicker March 2021 edition and used with permission.
Along with enjoying the incredible network of roads and trails in the Shuswap, being respectful stewards of the mountain is a main priority for the Shuswap Backcountry Riders Society. Dave Crowfoot, Secretary-Treasurers, told the Kicker.
There’s not a lot to do on quads in winter other than some trail map planning for the Shuswap and dreaming about the spring, he said. In the other three seasons, they enjoy time in the Shuswap back country, which provides many forms of recreation for ATV, Quad, Side by Side, Bike and 4 x 4 users. The Shuswap Backcountry Riders strive to be an all-inclusive organization.
The club was called the Sicamous Quad Club, until 2018, when it renamed itself to the Shuswap Backcountry Riders to encompass its growing membership from the entire Shuswap area. This happened under the leadership of Rene St Onge, a well-known avid backcountry enthusiast and guide. Tragically, Rene passed away in a snowmobile accident a year later. The group grew from 16 members then to well over 75 members today. This includes people from Vernon, Enderby, Shuswap, Revelstoke, Salmon Arm, Alberta and after a meeting last October in Scotch Creek, several new members from the North Shuswap.
The passing of Rene, fire closures the following year and now the pandemic, reduced the number of group rides but they are planning more this season. Last year’s rides included Owl Head and Queest in the Sicamous area, Skimikin Lake and Crowfoot Mountain. First in the plans this year is a ride at Larch Hills, which was delayed last year after the fall rains came early. Off-road vehicle (ORV) riding is a good social distancing activity if done properly, said Dave. At the start of the ride, they ask everybody to keep a safe distance, wear a mask if near someone, and to follow the rules and safeguards.
“We do some trail work where we can” which includes clearing deadfall particularly in the spring. The group also actively fights closures that are unreasonable and tries to educate people on the proper behaviour to respect the environment and people doing other activities on the trails.
“In the spring, we want to do some more rides and are working on some trail projects.” An application has been sent to the province to build a new trail in the Sicamous area which will connect the Owl Head trails to Cummins Lake and the Blue Lake area trails.
They are also continuing to work on the “Cache Cabin”, a historic log cabin on Owl Head, on the way to Mara Lookout. The cabin was the halfway point of the two-day trip to the lookout. It was built in the early 1900’s to store supplies for rangers and for people to stay in overnight. There also used to be, in the days before telephone or radio, a telegraph line that went from the Mara Fire Lookout through the Cache Cabin and on to a ranger station located on the channel in Sicamous, he added. “A generous grant was received through ATVBC and in conjunction with the Eagle Valley Snowmobile Club, a major restoration on the cabin has been done. The ancient cabin was rotting from the ground up so professional log cabin builders were hired to jack up the cabin up and replace the bottom rows of logs and install a new floor. Proper drainage has been placed around the cabin to further preserve it and current plans include new windows and roof so it will last for another 100 years. You can drive within a kilometer of it and then walk in. The group hopes it will become a picnic and photographic destination. In winter, it would be a safe place to stay for people who become stranded in the area.
Membership in the Shuswap Backcountry Riders includes a membership to ATVBC, which advocates for shared trails through responsible use, collaboration with other users groups and volunteer contribution around the province of BC. “We believe that by having all backcountry enthusiasts working together, we can create solutions for preserving continued enjoyment of our mountains.”