Tuesday, November 1, 2011

How to add adventure in your family's life!

If you have children then I do not have to tell you all about the constant shuffle from home to the field, hockey rink, dance class, swimming pool, and back home again....your probably living it.  All to provide our children with the physical activity they require for living a healthy happy life.  But where in all that is the exercise for parents?  Unless you are coaching your child, you are probably sitting on the sidelines drinking coffee and chatting with other parents.  I’m guilty as charged.  So to get my fill of exercise I seek out some outdoor adventure after those scheduled sporting events.  Everyone participates!

Every city, town, municipality and district has green space available to their residents.  It could be park trails within city limits, forest trails in areas surrounding the community or trails along a local creek, river, lake or ocean.  Every Saturday, after Ben’s soccer, I pick one of the trails in the central Vancouver Island area (which seems to be endless), pack a lunch, and spend the rest of the morning and early afternoon exploring with my children.  This week’s pick was the Hermit’s Trail in Chemainus

The Hermit's Trails has quite the story and history to it.  Local resident Charlie Abbot created the trails and spent years building gardens and walking paths using very primitive tools.  Local residents referred to Charlie as the hermit because he shunned away from people.  Story has it that he took refuge in the park and was told by God to do something good with his life.  Charlie then began to build sitting benches, stone steps, bridges and retaining walls with rocks that he moved himself.  Quite the accomplishment considering Charlie was about 70 years old when he arrived in Chemainus.  Charlie swept the path and cleared debris every single day regardless of the weather.  Charlie lived in the forest and worked on the trails and garden until he died in 1989 at the age of 87.  He claimed no ownership or recognition for his work.  There is a mural of Charlie Abbot walking along the trail at 9752 Willow Street in Chemainus.  (artist Paul Ygartua)


The work that Charlie Abbot has left behind is amazing.  The rock walls are perfectly designed.  Every step has been carefully created to ensure a perfect step.  There is one large garden area that is absolutely magical which made a wonderful picnic spot.  We walked towards Askew Creek and were welcomed to stone steps that lead us down to the creek.  There was a stone path alongside the creek followed by more stone steps taking us back up the steep bank.  Charlie managed to do something good not only for him but for countless others by showing the beauty a forest holds.  Thank-you Charlie!

Getting some outdoor adventure into a busy and chaotic family schedule can be done.  Next time you are heading to that scheduled sporting event plan to visit a local trail before heading back home.  It is worth it!

Where we were

Chemainus is an ocean side community 20km north east of Duncan and 11 km south of Ladysmith.  Before heading out, I could not find an official trail head for the Hermit's Trail.  It was not easy finding the trail. We parked at Waterwheel Park in Chemainus and walked north towards Oak St and then headed west.  Along Oak St. we came across Askew Creek Park where I thought the Hermit's Trail was.  After half an hour wandering through 1km of trail we found ourselves along Chemainus Rd. (The Hermit's trail is not in Askew Park)  Across the road we spotted a trail that lead up to the railway tracks so we followed.  Once we reached the railway tracks the trail ended.  We continued on the tracks, now heading southeast, until we saw a trail heading into the forest (opposite to town)  It was here where we came across The Hermit's Trail.  We came out of The Hermit's Trail at the far end of the ball diamonds near St. Joseph's School.  Again, no signs indicated the trails existence.  We didn't mind, half the adventure was finding the trail.

After more research I found that you can access the trail near the Pacific Rim Artisan Village's towering gate off of Chemainus Road.  I will try that way next time.


  1. I like your blog and this post, which drew me to it. Well done. I will have a better look when I get more time.

  2. Thanks for the directions. We found it and for us newcomers to Chemainus is was a wonderful walk. Very peaceful and amazing legacy Charlie left for the rest of us to enjoy.