Earlier this month, a trio of hikers, including South Surrey’s Josh Grossman, discovered and abandoned but well-preserved campsite in a remote area of Golden Ears Provincial Park. (Contributed photo)

South Surrey hikers discover decades-old campsite hidden in Golden Ears Park

Group reconnects with original campers through social media, returns log book

A group of friends – including a pair of South Surrey men – came across something they didn’t expect to see while hiking in Golden Ears Provincial Park earlier this month: a campsite essentially frozen in time.

On March 20, a group of five 20-somethings who work together in the film industry went for a hike in the park, which is just north of Maple Ridge, when three of the hikers – Semiahmoo Secondary grad Josh Grossman, Callum Gow, of Maple Ridge, and South Surrey’s Carson Schiefner – decided that, after a pit stop for lunch about halfway up the Mount Nutt Trail, they’d veer off course a little, leaving their two female companions to relax near a lake.

After a long, steep climb – “We had to crawl on all fours, and push and pull each other up,” Grossman told Peace Arch News – the trio made it to their destination, which was the top of a giant boulder they’d wanted to ascend.

It was on the way down when they made their discovery, noticing a tattered orange tarp in the distance, peeking through some branches.

“We tried to find an easier way back down, and that’s when we saw this orange tarp, and we were like, ‘Oh, what’s that?’” Grossman, who is the son of PAN reporter Tracy Holmes, explained.

“We thought it was just a (current) campsite, maybe someone who decided to get off the beaten path for the weekend or something, and that’s when we noticed the tarp was absolutely torn apart.”

• READ ALSO: BC Parks to suspend camping, access to some facilities due to COVID-19

• READ ALSO: Four rescued from Golden Ears mountain

The tattered covering was attached to a series of logs that had been stacked to create an A-frame structure. Inside, were boxes of other camping supplies, all packed into worn, water-damaged boxes.

Among the items found were cooking supplies, an old radio, bug spray, matches, a flashlight and an old military ammunition case, which contained first-aid supplies as well as a small logbook, where the original campers detailed their adventures. The book was marked with the word ‘Retreat’ along with a year: 1986.

As well, the trio discovered a wooden sign with a large ‘R’ carved into it.

“We weren’t sure if we should look through the stuff, or if it was (still) someone’s camp and they were maybe nearby, but then we realized how torn up it all was, and that’s when we realized what it was,” Grossman said.

“You open up some boxes and most of the stuff is still in pretty good condition. There’s some water damage, some rusting, but that’s to be expected after 30 years in the bush.”

After about an hour rummaging through the rustic time capsule, the three men found their way back to their other friends at the bottom of the slope. As a way to explain just how remote the campsite was, Grossman estimated that he and his friends had gone “a good 40 minutes” off the main Mount Nutt Trail, which itself is not an easy trail to locate, he said.

“The only way we found our way back was by listening to the creek and following it.”

After returning home, Gow posted about the group’s adventure – complete with photos of the decades-old camp – on Facebook, and the post went viral. It’s currently been shared more than 3,000 times.

News of the long forgotten camp eventually found its way, via Facebook, to the sister of one of the original campers, Grossman explained. The camper had since passed away, but through his sister and the magic of social media, Grossman and his friends were able to connect with two men, both now living in Kelowna, who had frequently camped at what they called ‘The Retreat.’

From the two men, the Lower Mainland trio discovered that the campsite was frequented by a group of seven friends – three of whom have since passed away – from 1986 until the early ’90s, though visits dwindled in the latter years, as indicated by entries in the log book which, Grossman said, they are mailing back to its original owners in the Okanagan.

The original group only found the remote site, they told the young hikers, by accident. During a hike of their own, one of their dogs had got off its leash and bolted into the brush. The group chased after it and eventually found the spot.

“The notebook just told a story – it just felt like it was a real mystery, right out of a movie. It just didn’t seem real,” Grossman said. “But it was just seven guys who liked to go camping and go explore.

“Everything was well taken care of – it was definitely a place they cared about.”



editorial@peacearchnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

CampingHiking

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

The log book from The Retreat, a hidden and abandoned campsite in Golden Ears Park that was recently rediscovered by a trio of local hikers. (Contributed photo)

Just Posted

‘Not a joke’: Promoter wants to rocket-launch man the length of White Rock pier

Brooke Colby says he’s building an eight-foot rocket in his backyard

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

Dry-grad cancelled, Elgin Park students make donation to food bank

Students donate $1,800 to food bank after being forced to cancel graduation event

Prospera Credit Union, Westminster Savings lay off over 100 staff following historic merge

2020 merger was largest credit-union merger in Canadian history

COVID-19: Daily update on the pandemic in Surrey, White Rock and beyond

MAY 23: There is an outbreak at a Lower Mainland fruit processing plant

LIVE: Procession to honour Snowbirds Capt. Jennifer Casey comes to Halifax

Snowbirds service member died in a crash in Kamloops one week ago

RCMP facing ‘systemic sustainability challenges’ due to provincial policing role

Provinces, territories and municipalities pay anywhere from 70 to 90 per cent of the cost of the RCMP’s services

One man dead after standoff with Chilliwack RCMP

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the RCMP’s role in the death

Help the ‘Cloverdale Reporter’ continue its mission to provide trusted local news

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

B.C. employers worry about safety, cash flow, second wave in COVID-19 restart

A survey found 75 per cent of businesses worry about attracting customers

Ex-BC Greens leader Andrew Weaver says province came close to early election

Disagreement centred on the LNG Canada project in northern B.C.

Canada’s NHL teams offer options to season-ticket holders

Canadian teams are offering refunds, but also are pushing a number of incentives to let them keep the money

Boy, 2, left with ‘soft tissue injuries’ after being hit by car in Squamish intersection

Boy was release from hospital, police continue to investigate

B.C. premier says lessons to learn from past racism during response to pandemic

B.C. formally apologized in the legislature chamber in 2008 for its role in the Komagata Maru tragedy

Most Read