As temperatures begin to rise, so too does the excitement in eager trail riders for a new season of riding on the Wonderland Trail Network. However, the City of Quesnel and the Gold Rush Cycling Club (GRCC) are asking GRCC members and the general public to stay off the trails for the next few weeks.
A release from the City of Quesnel posted on their website on April 24 state that the trail closures are due to environmental conditions and that use of the trails in their current state could cause further damage.
“The Wonderland Trail system and South Quesnel Park trails and pump track are currently closed due to spring water runoff and soft ground conditions,” states the release. “If these trails continue to be utilized in their current state, it will cause longer closures until maintenance can be done. The trail conditions will be reviewed in May.”
GRCC vice-president and trail director Chris Klapatiuk echoes the City’s statement and explains that this year’s snowpack and current weather conditions have created a bit of a mess on the trails, and if they are opened up too early, it could result in more damage and extra maintenance in the future.
“Because of the heavy snowpack and the weird rush of warm weather recently, the water run off on the bottom of the mountain has just created a soupy mess in areas, so we’ve spent the last week, probably about 45 to 50 hours of volunteer work just diverting the water away from trails,” said Klapatiuk. “There are sections that are extremely muddy, and it’s just going to create a lot more work down the road if people get on them now.”
The GRCC, which is a non-profit entity, relies on volunteer hours from its members to maintain the trail network, and this year, due to COVID-19, things are a bit more difficult, as members aren’t able to work in groups due to social distancing practices. Instead, the group is posting specific trail maintenance duties on its social media sites.
“The problem is with COVID going on, we can’t send big crews out to work, so on our website and our Instagram and our Facebook, there will be a detailed work agenda that people can do if they are going up there for maintenance purposes that’s OK — raking, removing debris and general tidying up of the trail — there will be some information coming up,” said Klapatiuk.
Another unfortunate byproduct for the club due to the COVID-19 pandemic is that they have had to cancel the Cariboo Endure Race that was to be held in Quesnel May 23-24. The event was the first race in series of events put on by the GRCC and Ride The Cariboo, which have all been cancelled and were scheduled for the summer. The second race in the series was scheduled to be held in 100 Mile House on June 14, while the third was to take place in Williams Lake July 11-12.
Klapatiuk says the GRCC is hopeful the club will be able to put on an event in the fall, should the social distancing safety measures be lifted.
In happier news, the GRCC has received the green light to movie forward with a project that will see the Wonderland Trail Network connected with Dragon Mountain and Hallis Lake.
“We’ve got big plans down the road, and we have been okayed for all the legal — we are just working on the funding that will allow us to build a trail connecting Dragon Mountain to the Wonderland Network,” said Klapatiuk. “It’s going to run from Hallis Lake Cross Country Ski Area to Wonderland, so we are just in the very early stages of that, so we are working on a lot of things behind the scenes to create riding opportunities for Quesnel.”
Klapatiuk says the trails would not exist if not for the hard work of volunteers coming together to create the recreation opportunity for the community, and while the GRCC only has 23 members right now, he hopes those numbers will increase as residents make use of and experience the trails.
Klapatiuk says it won’t be long until environmental conditions clear up and volunteers are able to clean up the trails to the point where the community can begin to enjoy the them.
“If we can just be patient, I don’t think it’s going to take long — if we are just patient for a week and a half or so, the trails do drain really well, and once they dry up, they are pretty bomb-proof, so just a little patience from the public would be greatly appreciated,” said Klapatiuk.
Klapatiuk added that one of the new trails in the network, “Mucho Oro,” which was named after Barkerville Brewing Co.’s signature beer after the brewery donated funds to the club for a new power saw, is very wet right now and will need some additional work, so he asks that riders stay off that trail until further notice.
GRCC memberships for the 2020 season are available now for cyclists and all trail users for a fee of $25, which goes directly towards the cost of insurance, trail maintenance, signage, events and equipment.
Membership grants the owner discounted access to events and shuttle rides, insurance while participating in GRCC group rides and trail maintenance days, a vote at the annual general meeting, and shows dedicated trail usership, which is a key component in the club’s applications for grants for future trail development.
Anyone interested in learning more about the GRCC can do so by visiting their social media pages. Memberships can be purchased online at https://spruceregistrations.com/grcc/register or in-person at Rocky Peak Adventure Gear in downtown Quesnel.