SAMS Outdoor Ed class in the Ilgachuz last fall.

SAMS Outdoor Ed class in the Ilgachuz last fall.

SAMS Outdoor Ed to host slideshow with National Geographic photographer

SAMS Outdoor Ed to host slideshow with National Geographic photographer

The SAMS Outdoor Education program will host a very special guest at the school on February 12. John Dunn, an accomplished arctic explorer and photographer, will on hand to host a slideshow of his trip to Canada’s wild and isolated Devon Island, located in the far north.

In addition to Dunn’s slideshow, the Outdoor Ed team will also showcase photos of their last trip; a very amazing horse pack and hiking expedition to the Ilgachuz Mountains last September 11 – 14. All proceeds will go towards the Outdoor Education Program

After Heather Ross and Dan Watts mentioned that in the past our school has done similar trips in the past, the seed was planted last year was pouring over maps and looking at incredible photos of the area in books.

By going with packhorses Bill Van Ess and Wendy Karran from Escott Bay Resorrt, the team was able to pack all of our food and heavy equipment. This allowed the group to hike 20km to a camp off the Christensen Creek trail. The trail was actually an old wagon route that linked up to the Pan Valley and Corkscrew drainage. The Pan Valley divides both the Ilgachuz and Itcha Mountain range. The area was once a large shield volcano, eroded over time by the glaciers and the sands of time.

The Ilgachuz are in a provincial park and are also home to some 1500 caribou, California bighorn sheep, mountain goats, moose and much more. The weather was unbelievable (nailed it again!) with sunny skies every day. After a hearty meal of chili and buns the group was very excited to explore this new trip for the program.

The following morning, students made their plans and navigated up one of the highest peaks in the Anahim Volcanic Region. They made it to the top of Mt Scott at 7500 feet. The group was treated to some geology lessons and soaked in the views from its peak. Afterward, they descended down to a saddle and part of the group climbed a sub peak of Mt Scott, the Basalt cliffs were very cool.

After the long traverse back to camp, each group found its own route. Steaks were enjoyed over Bill’s homemade grill on the fire. Resident dog Alpine ate very well that night. After another great Canadian morning, the group did a compass and orienteering exercise. Once each group found the creek and stayed on their bearing course, they then followed Lessard creek up to the pass between Go Around and Mt Scott.

The students enjoyed glassing the mountain goats on the hillside, while some went ahead to find Carnlick Lake. The lake was an oasis, since it was blazing hot. Everyone went for a dip and some energetic students went with their teacher to climb Go Around Peak. Its flanks and ridges were covered in large blocks of obsidian. Anahim Peak was across the Dean River; historically this area was vital for trade and was an important resource for many peoples.

Climbing along the shale of Go Around, the group noticed another large cairn on its summit. It is called Go Around since its basalt cliffs are similar to a volcanic plug and difficult to circumnavigate. In the early 19th century, a burly surveyor named Frank Swannell and his expedition team used these peaks to triangulate his position while surveying much of our Province. After meeting up with the rest of the group and practicing our glissading techniques it was back to camp – not looking forward to the long hike out!

The hike out went fairly well, we kept a steady pace and had to help one another out. We crossed the creek and waded across. The last five km took forever but we knew that there were burgers at the end. In total the group hiked 76 km approximately over four days Dylan had his GPS and figured out how many steps it took. I don’t not have enough room to put that statistic here.

I would like to thank the entire group for making this a very special trip, however it is suited to advance groups only. We successfully returned, some feet worse for wear.  The fact that we could add this to our repertoire of trips bodes well for the future and links us back to our past.

Working with the horses and Bill Van Ess was a real treat for both the outdoor education program. These wise, weathered, and experienced outdoors people have a lot to contribute

We would like everybody who helped us out: our chaperones: Heather Kopas and Justin Gray, School District 49 board of directors, Stephen Sheppard and the Bus Garage, Jeremy Baillie, Hagensborg Mercantile, Williams Lake and District Credit Union, Wendy Karran, Abra Silver, Heather Ross and Escott Bay Resort owners Bill and Darlene Van Ess. We will be doing some trail work in the valley as a fundraiser, and we hope to improve areas for access and contribute back to the valley.