Week of November 22-30 , 19995
Backcountry huts in British Columbia
Q: The provincial parks and the Canadian Alpine Club have excellent hut systems in the Rockies and the Coast Range. Are there any other organizations or clubs that offer cheap or self-serve huts or shelters in B.C.?
James R. Hamaker
A: Unfortunately, while there are quite a few privately-owned backcountry lodges throughout British Columbia, you'll be hard-pressed to find any full-fledged, province-run hut-to-hut systems there. Your best bet, then, is to base yourself at one of these rustic lodges and cabins and head into the wilderness from there for day hikes or multiday treks. One to consider is the Highland Glen Lodge, on the shores of Muncho Lake in northern British Columbia. Located about 150 miles northwest of Fort Nelson and 460 miles southeast of Whitehorse, Yukon, at mile 462 on the Alaska Highway, Highland is just far enough off the beaten path to guarantee you plenty of solitude and a lot of wilderness out the back door. Choose from over 15 miles of hiking trails in the Sentinel Range to the west or the Terminal Range to the east. Cast your line for northern pike, arctic grayling, and 35-pound char in the turquoise lake, and be sure to make the 30-mile drive north to Liard Hot Springs for a long soak in 118-degree, orchid-lined ponds. Owners Urs and Marianne Schildknecht also use the lodge as a base camp for their float-plane excursions to remote lakes in the Kwadacha Wilderness and Muncho Lake provincial parks. If you're in the mood to splurge, charter a plane for about $600 round-trip per person for four people and spend several days hiking, paddling, and camping in the parks. Otherwise, reserve a small but comfortable cabin with a bed and bath for about $37 U.S. per night; a cabin with kitchenette will run you about $59 per night, and a remote, lakeside cabin about $42 per person, per night (there's a four-person minimum). The lodge is open April through September; call 604-776-3481 in season or 604-774-2909 year-round to make reservations. For more information on this and other backcountry lodges in B.C., call the Tourism Board at 604-847-5227 or check out "Inns & Lodges" in the Destinations section of our September 1993 issue.