August 2009 with Kitty. Keystone-Standard Basin is an open alpine area in the Selkirk Mountains, about 50 kilometres north of Revelstoke.
This was a recce hike for the Nature Vancouver camp committee. We’re continually looking for good places to hold our annual summer camp, and every couple of years we do a trip around BC to go and find them. We can’t go just anywhere – we need a place where there’s space to land helicopters, set up the big tents and all the personal tents, reasonably good trailhead access by regular vehicles, a week’s worth of day hiking from the base camp, and a place where land use is relatively unrestricted (no protected areas) and which also isn’t crawling with people. This makes it a bit of a challenge. So we do a lot of research beforehand to get ideas, make local contacts, and get boots on the ground to actually see the place in person. Getting to go exploring in scenic backcountry areas and having expenses paid is a tough job but somebody has to do it.
I spent a few days with David F and Kitty, exploring south of Revelstoke and then in the Golden area. We looked at one site near Trout Lake which didn’t look like it was going to work for us, but spent an interesting night in the Windsor Hotel. It appeared to be a leftover from the village’s days as a mining boomtown and was hanging on by the skin of its teeth – we were the only guests there in high summer season. It is a long way from anywhere, and seems to get most of its business in winter when the area becomes a snowmobiler mecca. We then went to Golden and drove up one long and rough backroad to look at another site, one that had potential, but the drive there made it unfeasible.
The morning following that drive, David woke up to discover that he’d aggravated an old back injury and could barely move. That unfortunately put an end to his recce activities; he decided to get a Greyhound back home and Kitty and I carried on. We looked at a couple more sites in the Golden to Radium area, then back to Revelstoke and down past Trout Lake again to have a look at Meadow Mountain. Hugh and I had been to Meadow Mountain a few years beforehand and saw potential but Kitty and I went and had another look. It was good except that there were few open creeks and the only water supply would have been from one small lake. We came back for one final stop in Revelstoke and decided to go look at Keystone-Standard Basin.
It starts reasonably high and gets into meadows pretty quickly. Snowmobilers use it in winter and mountain bikers in summer, but it doesn’t seem to get a lot of hikers. Hugh and I had also hiked part of the way in here on our previous trip with a knowledgeable local. We discovered potential there but needed to go have another look, especially since we had been there and seen it under several centimetres of fresh September snow. Mike T and Hugh turned around early but I made it to the bowl at the headwaters of Mars Creek, about six kilometres in, which looked like a great campsite except for the lack of shade.
On this trip, Kitty and I hiked to the bowl and explored a bit more, agreeing that it would make a fine campsite. Following the bowl, the trail has a steep but short climb over a low ridge into meadows on the north side of Keystone Peak. We followed it a few more kilometres through meadows to look for any other possible places to camp but nothing looked any better (or at least that would have reliable water supply). We didn’t go as far as the cabin which is located at about eleven kilometres after the trail drops back into woods; it looks like it would be a good base for a small group but not for a large camp.
We decided that this was the best place we’d seen on this tour, and that this would be the our campsite for 2010.
But people had other ideas. When we got back home and contacted the local authorities, they were willing to give us permission to camp in the area, on the condition that we collect Number Two and helicopter it out. Our usual procedure is to dig biffy pits and fill them in afterward, but they didn’t consider that acceptable. I won’t go into any further discussion about the issue, except to say that we decided we weren’t prepared to do that, either in concept or logistics, so our plans to camp there were cancelled. We asked about Meadow Mountain and they had no trouble with us doing our thing there, so Meadow Mountain became our 2010 camp, and stories will be told about that camp for a long time.