Earl Grey Pass, Purcell Wilderness Conservancy

on Aug 25, 2012

A group of four traveled from east to west and completed the Earl Grey Pass traverse in five days. As they may have been the first folks over the pass this year here is updated trail information and hiking beta with more photos and story to follow...

Dave (from Wildsite) and Madeleine (from Revelstoke) enjoyed leading an educational backpacking trek with dedicated hikers Jane and Greg who enjoyed the incredible wilderness and remote trek in Purcell Wilderness Conservancy.

Overall the route is generally still in hiking shape, with the exception of some major spruce blowdown in a few areas, major avy debris pilup in some areas, in some slumping/earth movement damage in the lower section. As it sounds, be prepared for the unexpected!

Trail Conditions, August 22, 2012

The trail is wonderful on the east side. No issues, minor blowdown, etc, and really in good shape. On the Hammill side the trail condition changes a bit.

All cable cars are in great shape however many log bridges are either out or damaged (North Forks, Rock Creek, Sockman Creek (Cable Car #4) bridges are all out.  Cauldron, and other bridges are still in.

Comb Slide and Little Comb Slide are impressive - the gulley of Comb slide is FULL of snow and wood, with a fairly major stream cave underneath, which is a pretty obvious hazard (falling through!). Really impressive avalanche damage and debris from the burnt area above the slide.  Most avy paths, including the reroute section, have a good pile of new 50+cm logs at the bottom, across the trail. Note that the old map still comes up on line which does not show the reroute between N. Forks and Moose Meadows.

As well, a fair number of trees to get over or under, consider bringing a small saw for places you can help do trail maintenance. EG Pass - North Forks:  50+ trees down; 30+ of these are problems, many of which will need a complete reroute around large Sx blowdown (multiple 100+ cm spruce down in 2 seperate areas - just up the trail 500m from N. Forks - likely easier just to reroute trail than try to clear). N. Forks to 4th Cable Car:  100+ trees down, very shrubby in avy paths. 4th cable car - 3rd cable car:  30+ trees down. 

Challenging sections that need trail work include:  just above N. Forks campsite on the way to pass (within 2km of N. Forks camp),  between N. Forks and Moose Meadows, and a bit below Moose Meadows,  along the slope (slide paths) below Comb Mtn.

All campsites are pretty good - wilderness character, just enough signage to help hikers determine that they are, in fact, at one of the sites.  A notable increase in fire rings since last time I was over - esp. at the pass. 

The group camped at Toby Glacier, North Forks, Cable Car #4, and Garnet Beach.  They did not see much wildlife, as it was 30+ degrees, however lots of evidence of grizzly, black bear, wolf, elk, and moose tracks galore. Heard a great horned owl, saw a family of 5 harlequin in the creek.

To learn more about backpacking,  trekking safely and ecological links between flora, fauna and terrain, take an interpretive walk or educational program near Nelson, Kaslo and New Denver, B.C.

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