STRATHCONA PROVINCIAL PARK, B.C- The signage on a popular Vancouver Island mountain trail won’t be getting any upgrades in the near future.
That’s despite the wishes of Comox Valley Ground Search and Rescue (CVGSAR), whose president Paul Berry told the MyComoxValleyNow.com newsroom that hikers navigating their way down Mount Albert Edward have been a repeated source of rescue calls this year.
“The challenge is that in the alpine, many of the routes are marked with rock cairns,” said Berry.
“Ultimately, what happens is that people who are out waiting for other hikers will build cairns as well, so you end up with a multiplicity of potential markers, which can be confusing for people.”
Berry indicated that CVGSAR had been called out to the mountain eight times since early August, with hikers usually getting disoriented on their way back from the summit.
He said that CVGSAR has been in discussion with BC Parks about upgraded signage to avoid that disorientation. However, a statement from the parks service indicated that signage isn’t in the works right now.
“Mount Albert Edward is in the back country of Strathcona Provincial Park, is not within the maintained trail system of BC Parks and therefore does not have navigational signs,” read the statement.
“Those wishing to climb this or other mountains in BC Parks should be fully prepared for travel in the back country and stay within their skill level. including navigation experience. BC Parks has confirmed with the Comox Search and Rescue staff that they are satisfied with the level of signage in these back country areas.”
When asked about the statement, Berry said that CVGSAR had a very positive relationship with the provincial parks service, and indicated that they still plan to discuss the challenge of lost individuals in the alpine.
He’ll be meeting with Strathcona Park’s advisory committee on November 16th, and anticipated discussion of the topic at the meeting.
He also advised hikers to be prepared when they head into the backcountry.
“Knowledge of the area, navigational ability, and some sort of navigation device are essential,” said Berry.