By David F. Rooney
Break out your hiking boots… and maybe your snowshoes, too! Meadows in the Sky Parkway is now open all the way to the Balsam Lake parking lot just below the summit.
Access to the summit has — besides the unusual snow conditions — has been cut since July 5 when the parkway was undermined by runoff at the 15.5 Kilometre mark. That’s just about 100 or 200 metres up the road from Bridge Creek.
Rick Reynolds, the park’s visitor’s services manager, said it took two weeks and $250,000 to reconfigure the road, hammer out a major rock reef in order to reconfigure the road.
For Don Roy, Parks’ highway coordinator, it was a long two weeks, with work crews of up to seven men (depending the tasks required of them) working six days a week to remove about 3,000 m3 of earth and bedrock then reconfigure the road, and build a line of gabions (those are the stone retaining walls held together by very sturdy wire mesh) permitting motorists to proceed all the way to the summit. That particular section of road still needs to be paved, something that will happen later this summer.
Reynolds said the closure of the parkway has had a negligible effect on visitors numbers in
the park with about 200 people driving as far as a roadblock erected at the 13 Kilometre point on the parkway. That is, he said, is typical for this portion of the summer. Those visitors who wanted to have been permitted to hike the road from the road block.
Reynolds and Parks’ Information Officer Jacolyn Daniluck took local reporters up to the construction zone and then the summit. The roadway was clear all the way to the Balsam Lake parking lot where glacier lilies were blooming on the west side of the road bed. But there is still a fair amount snow beneath the trees and on the road from Balsam Lake to the summit, but that should be easily negotiable for anyone wearing waterproof hiking boots and snowshoes.