Viewpoint: Powell River Ranger Patrol makes historic trek

A little-known group may have done something nobody has ever done before on the Upper Sunshine Coast. Powell River Ranger Patrol of the Fourth Canadian Ranger Patrol Group has gone from Sarah Point to Saltery Bay in the backcountry by 95 per cent human-powered means.

The recent event was a relay involving biking, canoeing, hiking and kayaking. Starting at Sarah Point, Rangers kayaked to the south end of Okeover on a beautiful sunny day. The flag was then passed on to bikers who took it to Southview Road.

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On day two, the flag was hiked up to Gibraltar Bluffs and hiked and biked to Sliammon Lake. From there it was canoed to the Sunshine Coast Trail and hiked to Wildwood where it was biked in pouring rain to Haslam Lake. The uphill slog in the pouring rain was one of the more heroic moments.

On day three, the flag was canoed to the far end of Haslam Lake. I regret to say we had to truck the flag up the Giovanni Main about six kilometres to Spring Lake; that hill was just too steep and long for us.

From Spring Lake, it was a nice downhill cruise on our army-supplied mountain bikes to the Goat Main and then on to the fish farm on Lois Lake. Finally, on day four the flag was canoed to mile four of the Stillwater Main and biked to Saltery Bay Provincial Park campsite.

One of the purposes of Ranger patrols is local knowledge and this exercise certainly increased that among patrol members.

Canadian Forces has Ranger patrols all across Canada, especially in what it considers isolated areas. These patrols serve as a liaison between communities and the forces and are a source of information in the event of a disaster such as an earthquake.

In many areas where there are no search and rescue organizations, patrols provide that service. In the north, Rangers do coastal watch for foreign subs and ships. Patrols have been called out to fight fires, control floods and to provide security at plane-crash sites.

Patrol members have opportunities to attend events such as wilderness survival and first aid courses. Last February, Powell River Ranger Patrol put on a survival course in which volunteers went into the bush with only a few basic things and survived for two days by building shelters and fires and gathering food in the bush. Our members have also been involved in training other army reserve forces in wilderness survival skills.

Other activities include target practises and competitions with 303 rifles, marine and snowmobile exercises and training, post-earthquake search and rescue and radio communication skills.

The latter was key in this recent exercise so we could stay in touch with those in canoes in the middle of big lakes or the bush.

Powell River Patrol is looking for a few more members. Applications are available by contacting Nancy Lecerf at 604.223.3335. Applicants must be between 18 and 60.

Peter Behr is the patrol leader of Powell River Ranger Patrol of the Fourth Canadian Ranger Patrol Group.

Copyright © Powell River Peak

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