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This weekend Dave and I decided to check out a British Columbia Forestry airstrip in the East Kootenay area of the Rocky Mountains. The airstrip is known as Sage Creek as it is adjacent to the creek of the same name. We had only heard about it last year and apparently is rarely visited and the condition was said to unmaintained and one should be careful.
We departed our home airstrips after work on Friday evening with our camping gear. We decided to go direct “over the top” to maximize our time to set up camp or allow us to go somewhere else if the strip was unusable.
We are seasoned prairie flyers, but with only a little mountain flying experience, we entered the mountains cautiously. The strip turned out to be easy to find and is quite long.
After a low pass, it was determined the centre 1/3 was extremely rutted so we decided to land on the western end which was more than enough for our STOL 750s. After we landed, we walked the length of the airstip and found that the eastern end would be best for camping. There was even a path cut out of the bush down to a small brook that flows down into Sage Creek.
We taxied our planes down to the other end through the very rough ruts and set about to set up camp before dark.
We set our tents up, made some supper and then sat around the campfire with our favourite beverages.
The night was unusually warm for this time of year, with it probably only getting down to 10 or 12 degrees Celcius. The soothing sound of rushing water from the creek helped give me one of my best sleeps in a long time. Saturday morning dawned warm but with lowered ceilings so it looked we could take our time making breakfast and breaking camp.
After breakfast we decided to do a little maintence on the airstrip by using our hatchets to cut down sapplings that are beginning to encroach onto the runway. We saws lots of evidence of wildlife including an elk, some bush rabbits and lots of bear scat.
The ceilings lifted but we were in no hurry to go home so it was not until late afternoon before we took the long way home. We flew further west and then north following some valleys until eventually exiting the mountains at the Crowsnest Pass. A slight detour to have supper at the Vulcan Golf-course Clubhouse and finally home to return to our day-to-day lives. I think in the future we will likely do this many more times.
These airplanes are perfect for this type of flying, so “back to building”. It really is worth it!