Today, there are plenty of people having adventures in the local mountains. We arrive back from our adventures with tales of epics, of wonder and of physical prowess. What many of us do not realize, is that a century ago, Revelstoke locals were exploring and adventuring in these mountains before there were logging roads, or even trails, to ease their exploits. Many of today’s locals may not realize that it was the people of Revelstoke that pressed to have Mount Revelstoke included as a national park. Now, each August, locals are invited join in the festivities at the Summit, to paint, to learn about wildflowers, to discover the feats of past explorers, to eat cake or to hike in the Eva Lake Pilgrimage.
The explorers of the past were really quite incredible. One such adventurer was Eva Hobbs—a local schoolteacher—whose interest in the mountains was peaked by the school principal, A.E. Miller. Mr. Miller took his handful of teachers on mandatory outings. One of these outings was a bushwhack from town, up to the summit of Mount Revelstoke, before even a trail was put in.
In response to growing interest in the mountain, in 1908, the mayor of Revelstoke, Charles Lindmark, had the city public works crew build a trail from town up to Balsam Lake on the summit. Eva grew to love mountain adventure, and was one of the founding members of the Revelstoke Mountaineering Club that was formed in 1909.
In 1909, she organized her own three-week adventure to the top of Mount Revelstoke, with her two sisters and two girlfriends. And so,
wearing dresses of wool and cotton, and leather walking boots, they adventured up. Mr. Blackmore and his packhorse carried their tent and provisions. While they were on the summit, a group of five male members of the mountaineering club arrived to build a cabin at Balsam Lake. The women offered to help the men with construction for a day, if the men would take a day off to go hiking with them. They all hiked to Miller Lake, which had already been named after the school principal. Eva ventured ahead. The other women were slower, and the men were hanging back to help them. Before long, Eva returned to them saying, “There’s another lake up here!” Nobody believed her at first, but when they arrived at it, they told her, “We’ll call it your lake, we’ll call it Eva Lake.” Soon after, Mr. Blackmore wrote to Ottawa to confirm the naming.
Perhaps today, many of our adventures are a bit soft—with our high-tech, light-weight gear, our wicking wear, our maps, our GPS and our Google Earth pre-explorations. However, the mountain spaces and the rewards of spending time in them are still much the same.
Celebrate the Summit will take place on top of Mount Revelstoke on Sunday, August 9, 2009, from 11am to 2pm. Eva Lake Hike participants can meet at the Revelstoke Parks Canada Office at 8am to carpool, and again at Balsam Lake at 9am to depart on the hike—a moderate 5-6 hour hike. For more information, call the Parks Canada Office at 250-837-7500.
Alice Weber is a communications officer with Mount Revelstoke and Glacier National Parks