Building the Golden Ears Shelter

Author Ron Paley
 Golden Ears Shelter

After a year and a half the project we started planning has finally come to an end. The experiences and memories will last a lifetime. GETPARC ( Golden Ears Trail Preservation and Restoration Club ) is a non profit society and continues to work with BC Parks to restore and maintain our seventy-five kms of trails in Golden Ears Park. This emergency shelter will be here for generations to come.

The shelter is at 4720 feet and the Golden Ears North Ear summit is at 5710 feet. From the new shelter it is a 45 minute hike to the summit and 45 minutes down to the old shelter. The new shelter has fresh water nearby from the snowpack and has a helicopter pad for rescues. It is visible from several locations on the trail above and below.

The shelter is 12 feet from floor to peak and the main floor area is 10 feet x 10 feet. The loft is 5 feet x 5 feet and the walls and roof are made with 4 inch by 6 inch tongue and groove pine. The above front and back windows push in for use in deep snow. Access to the loft is from the rear only. Door faces to the east. The floor is 2x6 tongue and groove pine. The shelter is engineered to with stand a 500 pound per square foot snow load. The metal cladding is 22 gauge steel from Vic West. The roof runs at a 45 degree angle. The shelter is supported on concrete columns, 2 feet off the ground in the front, 3 feet in the back. Each column is supported with rods drilled 1 foot into rock. There are 4 in each column, wrapped in rebar, with 1.2m of concrete in total.

GPS Data
Type: Datum WGS 84
Latitude:49 degrees 22.00 north
Longitude:122 degrees 30.09 west

The whole structure is grounded. Copper rods are inserted into 2 feet deep holes 1.5 inches in diameter. Rods are connected by wire to ensure good grounding. Number 3 wire is connecting the system from the 1m copper lightening rods on the roof. Both the front and back are independently grounded. The rods in the rock are packed with rock salt and water to produce a seal. The natural water flow from rain and snow provide good conductivity.

This shelter is the first of it's kind in the lower mainland. Only in Garibaldi Park is there something close to this. It is a Gothic Arch design in Singing Pass and Wedge Lake. The one in Seymour Park at Elsay Lake is not for emergency, but a destination spot for recreation. The GPS reading using Datum WGS 84 measurement is latitude 49 degrees 22.00 north and longitude is 122 degrees 30.09 west.

The structure cost is approximately $28,000 to construct - a cost overrun of the estimated cost of $25,000. Contributions to the project to help with the overrun are welcomed. GETPARC (Golden Ears Trail Preservation & Restoration Club) is a registered volunteer non-profit charitable society, founded in 1992 (charitable tax # 1049865-52 ). GETPARC, helps BC Parks preserve and restore the extensive trail network in Golden Ears Park, Maple Ridge, by bringing representatives from trail users together collectively. GETPARC serves as a consensus forming body to facilitate trail upgrading, resolve potential conflicts between user groups and make recommendations to BC Parks which reflect those consensus positions. GETPARC also raises money to be used in restoring and preserving the exclusive trail system. Funds raised are spent on priority projects in cooperation with BC Parks.

The people involved in the construction are:

Brent Watson, president of BJW Construction, Maple Ridge
Shane Watson, carpenter of BJW Construction Maple Ridge
Al Wilson, carpenter of BJW Construction Maple Ridge
Kamil Aksoylu, president of ECM Electrical Civil Mechanical Consulting Ltd. Maple Ridge
Ron Paley, Trailmaster/Publicity for GETPARC Maple Ridge

Monday August 5, 2002

We did some additional reviews of the area surrounding the location for the new emergency shelter. Present were Miles Quesnel of Maple Ridge Search & Rescue, Brent Watson of BJW Construction Ltd., Ron Paley Trailmaster for GETPARC, and pilot Jason Kirkland of Prism Helicopters (shown left to right in photo).

Thursday September 12, 2002


We will start construction on the emergency shelter next week and expect to finish by September 30th. We have been pre-cutting for the last 2 weeks. It is amazing how much 1/4" steel is used for the door and windows. Only the front and back are prefabed, and the rest is done on site. The helicopter will drop these in place once we have the foundation in. I've tried to promise myself not to swear too much when I inevitably hit my thumb with the hammer.

Tuesday September 17, 2002

We met at the Park Headquarters and the weather is off and on. The clouds delayed the helicopter most of the day, but we finally got all the supplies and BJW Construction people up to the site. They spent the next few days digging and laying the foundation forms in extreme rain and wind. They had to drill one foot holes several times into rock with an added apoxy to secure the foundation. Once the drilling was complete, rebar was used to tie it all together.

Wednesday September 18, 2002

At least 10 loads were taken up by helicopter yesterday. We hoped to start at 7:00am but with weather and other problems, we started lifting at 2:00 pm and finished at 8:00 pm. We still have several prefab pieces to bring up over the next few days. I will be on the mountain by Thursday or Friday to help with the concrete pour and will stay up there until it's done. Hopefully will be off the mountain by October 2nd.

Saturday September 21, 2002

I met up with the Prism Helicopter at the Gold Creek campground to arrange the concrete to be lifted up to the shelter. We had 1.2 meters of concrete to do over several trips. We also assisted Ridge Meadows Search and Rescue with their repeater site installation and got a drill bit stuck in the rock. Kamil was trying his best. After the concrete was placed, BJW Construction crew came down and myself, Ingrid Uttuslien (treasurer of GETPARC), Inge Hempel (member of Ridge Meadows Outdoor Club), and John Hume (member of both GETPARC and RMOC) went up. We set up camp and climbed to the North Ear summit and enjoyed the sunny weather.

Sunday September 22, 2002

We made sure the camp was secure, and then proceeded down to the old shelter to evaluate what to do with it since it is in such poor condition. Following the evaluation, Ingrid and Inge later hiked off the mountain. After we got back and I was trying to get the radio and cell phones working as we had a hiker come off the summit and tell us a hiker from another group was injured. This other hiker has slid down the snowfield and hit his ankle on the rocks. John Hume went up to see the injured hiker and apply first aid. John is an experienced mountain climber and has industrial first aid. I got on the radio to the RCMP and requested that Ridge Meadows Search & Rescue send up a helicopter since it was determined that the hiker had a severe sprain. We went up and slowly brought him down to our camp. We looked after the injured hiker and his friend until the chopper arrived . During all this, five others from another group who assisted carried on only to get stranded in the dark below Alder Flats. Their thoughtfulness for this hiker caught up with them and luckily they had a radio to call for help. Search and Rescue came in to get them out. It was fortunate that we were there to assist the injured hiker as he didn't have the necessary gear for a cold night on the mountain - something to always keep in mind.

Monday September 23, 2002

Today the concrete was still setting so John Hume and I decided to hike to Blanchard Needle and Edge Peak. What a sight to see and as an added bonus the weather was good! A little rest and relaxation was just what we needed as I knew we were in for some hard days ahead.

Tuesday September 24, 2002

Later in the day BJW Construction and Kamil from ECM Electrical came up in the chopper and John went down. We flew up supplies and brought up one of the back wall fabricated A frames. As I was watching the chopper drop off a sling of supplies near my tent, to my horror I watched my MEC Tarn Two tent fly up from the chopper wind and take off down the mountain. It rolled and smashed about 300 feet towards Alder Flats. I climbed down and struggled to bring it back up. I had no choice since my bag and some supplies were in there. I didn't think I could sweat like that! Luckily only my fly was slightly ripped and the poles suffered minor damage. This was incredible - a good ad for MEC: "Our tents will survive crashing and smashing down the mountain."  That evening we planned the construction for the next few days.

Wednesday September 25, 2002

Every morning Kamil would sing Mona Lisa and I'm sure that was why the bears stayed away. The weather still good and we got the two other A frame sections in place - these were flown in this morning. Kamil and I started to drill the holes for the lightning rod system. We tried to go six feet but at 4 1/2 feet we got the bit stuck again. There goes $150..00 for a new one times two. We decide instead of four 2 1/2" diameter holes six feet deep in the rock, we would do two foot holes times ten. It took 30 minutes to go two feet. Holding on to that rock machine was something else. The 4x6 T&G Pine for the roof was started and the floor. We made good progress today.

From left to right is Peter McIlvaney and Ron Paley.
Peter is a very experienced hiker who has
traveled extensively and helped with several documentaries.

Thursday September 26, 2002

The weather is still good and the frame work was going to plan. We had the shelter framed in and are still working on the lightning rod system drilling holes.

Friday September 27, 2002

The weathers continues to remain good and we start putting up the metal cladding on the roof. To date, we worked pretty much every day, up at 6:00am and finishing at 5:30pm. Each evening we would have dinner and a few laughs around the campfire, then hit the sack hard. The wind gusts and cooler temperatures made us buckle under our sleeping bags. The bugs up here are crazy! My left eye is now swollen shut at night and thanks to Ingrid, her bug vest saved me from future torture. And while I'm thanking people, a special thanks to Inge for leaving me extra food and especially the gourmet coffee. Earlier around 4:00pm we had a father and his two daughters come down the mountain to our camp from the summit. We are 45 minutes from the North Ear and about 5 to 6 hours to the West Canyon parking lot. I informed them that there is no way you will make it out by night fall. We called on the radio to the RCMP and BC Parks that we would keep them here until morning and also called his wife on our patch link line Kamil had set up. A good friend of his, Lynda, who operates a amateur radio was in contact with us and was a great help. We put them in the shelter, clothed and fed them. We made an unpleasant event for them into a good adventure his two daughters ten and eleven, who would probably never forget this.

Saturday September 28, 2002

We continued to finish the lightning rod system and filled the holes with copper pipe and rock salt to dissipate the electrical charge. Today the door also went in. Kamil's wife Louise, and friend Fred and Stephen, both of the Amateur Radio Club, came up to assist in trying to remove the six foot rock bit but no success. They all helped wrap things up so Kamil could leave with the helicopter at 4:00 pm. Prism was very helpful in arranging this special flight for us. Fred also left a bottle of Whiskey. Oh Yea!! I don't drink, but this time it was a treat to keep you warm at night. With Kamil now gone and his Mona Lisa song with him, we settled in for the night.

Sunday September 29, 2002

We rushed to paint the floors and gables and finish the metal cladding as the weather started to turn by noon. The cold weather came at us with wind, then the unmentionable happened ...SNOW. We worked in this until 6:00pm then took cover under the tarps with a fire and over 100 km wind gusts. Our spirits were high and Shane could always pull a grin no matter what the conditions. Shane's father Brent, the serious thinker, was always planning one day ahead for the work that was required. Al was a master at cooking as I eat my Beefegetti. Since the weather was calling for rain I decided to move into the shelter as I know my fly would leak. Not bad in there, except there was no TV.

Monday September 30, 2002

At 6:00 am I looked outside and could see three inches of snow on the ground. It was a cold day, but we worked like crazy to get everything completed. We installed the push in windows and realigned the door, and then proceeded to get ready for a fly out at 4:00 pm. This was the latest we could leave since the temperatures are at their highest at that time and staying any later runs the risk of fog in. We worked right up to the time the helicopter came. We got our supplies and ourselves out to Gold Creek. We broke open the champagne and celebrated what a accomplishment we had made.

Tuesday October 1, 2002 - Recap

Well, the Golden Ears Emergency Shelter is finally finished. I spent 10 days up there and got back Monday at 7:00 pm. I had the best company for a few days when Ingrid, Inge, and John joined me. Ingrid and Inge stayed until Sunday and hiked out, and John stayed until Tuesday when the BJW Construction came back up. They had very poor weather on their first four days. We had to let the concrete set from the pour we made on Saturday. We were up at 6:00am for an early start to 6:00 pm to finish the shelter and had good weather until mid Sunday when it started to snow. We had 100 km winds and 3 inches of snow by Monday morning.

We had two rescues up there. One on first Sunday when a hiker fell on the snowfield. John Hume with his First Aid made this hiker very comfortable and I really appreciated his professional approach. Ridge Meadows Search & Rescue were very prompt to get a helicopter up there and get the injured hike off the mountain. The other rescue was the following Saturday when a father and his two young daughters ran out of daylight. We keep them in the shelter, clothed and fed them. Lucky we were up there in both cases.

In the near future we have to go up and take out left over metal cladding and do some touch up. Due to the snow conditions we ran out of time for the cleanup effort. A special thanks goes to both Prism Helicopters and BC Parks for their contribution to this project. Without their support, this project would not have happened. Dave Zall (President Prism Helicopters) and Dan Wiebe (Operations Manager) went out of their way to make this a successful project. I would also like to thank the pilots for their professionalism and skills and also thank Leslie Heppner for handling my numerous phone calls. I would recommend that Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge thank them for there efforts. This was a community service that should be recognized.

From left to right is Kamil Aksoylu ( President ) of ECM
Electrical ( did lightning rod system ), Ron Paley ( GETPARC
Trailmaster and co coordinator of the project ),
Brent Watson ( President ) of BJW Construction,
Al Wilson carpenter for BJW Construction
I take my hat off to BJW Construction, Brent's wife Dorothy for all the calls she made, and all the people that made this happen. A very special appreciation to my wife Leanne for putting up with me the last few weeks and the months prior - that's one of the many reasons why I love her. I always believe what goes around comes around. Be a volunteer and make a world of difference. I will never forget the friends I have made here and the feeling that you did something for the good for your fellow hikers. As is always said by my good friend Russ, "No trail is long with Good Company."  It was a few years ago that Russ and I climbed the Golden Ears summit and I said it would kill me. Time has passed and I'm more experienced now. I still won't say it's a piece of cake - only of course if you fly by helicopter!

GETPARC Executive 2002

From left to right is Shane Watson (carpenter) of BJW
Construction, Kamil Aksoylu ( President ) of ECM
Electrical ( did lightning rod system ),
Brent Watson ( President ) of BJW Construction,
Al Wilson carpenter for BJW Construction

  • President, Marie Seabrook
  • Vice President, Duanne van den Berg
  • Treasurer, Ingrid Uttuslien
  • Secretary Liaison Equestrian Liaison
  • Ron Paley, Trailmaster/ Publicity/ Special Events
  • Steve Heggie, BC Parks Liaison
  • Hiking & Mountain Biking Liaison, Diane & Dave Wharton
  • Members at large, Tim Wittenberg, Bill Archibald, John Hume, Ken Stewart MLA, Randy Hawes MLA

We represent member groups as follows:

  • Ridge Meadows Outdoors Club
  • Ridge Riders Mountain Bike Club
  • Alouette Field Naturalists
  • Valley Outdoors Club
  • Haney Horsemen
  • Llama Club



  • Video 1 - Helicopter bringing in frame. Approx 1 min in length. File size 4.7MB.
  • Video 2 - Helicopter bringing in frame (shorter version). Approx 13 seconds. File size 1MB.
  • Video 3 - Putting the frame in place during helicopter dropoff. Approx 23 seconds. File size 2MB.
  • Video 4 - Zoom in to out clip of the hut location. Approx 4 seconds. File size 700 kilobytes.