Saturday, May 18, 2013

Every trail tells a story

Tell me to take a hike and I will happily oblige.  Hiking through forests and over mountains never gets old and being able to explore somewhere new on every hike is what stimulates the adventure inside of me.  Hiking on a trail in the middle of nowhere is the one place on earth where I can recharge my spirit, appreciate the beauty of nature, escape life’s responsibilities and enter a world only few dare to travel. 

Often I am intrigued by those who have travelled before me.  What purpose was their hike?  Was it survival, necessity, adventure, or spiritual?  Was it years, months, days or centuries ago? Often I can find these answers with a little online research.  Other times I let my imagination run wild with each clue discovered along the way.

Summit of Mt. Tzouhalem in Duncan, BC

The white cross near the summit of Mt. Tzouhalem was put there by local Catholic churches in the 1970’s.  One can’t help feeling spiritual standing beside the large cross.  What I find to be more interesting is Mt. Tzouhalem is named after a fierce aboriginal chief who successfully led his people in an ambush of northern tribes looking to raid Cowichan Bay for slaves way back in the 1850’s.  Thinking about it sends shivers down my spine.

Rusted old red truck on Wallace Island, BC

Stumbling upon a rusted old red pick-up truck is sure to spark up stories of the past.  This red beauty can be found on Wallace Island and belonged to David Conover.  He had purchased the island in 1946 and developed a holiday resort which is no longer.  There is even a cove named after him, Conover Cove, which provides good anchorage for boaters.  Why was it abandoned in the middle of a field on a remote gulf island?  I have my theories as to why but will let you come up with your own.

The Dark Side climbing area near Nanaimo, BC
Sometimes the discoveries are obvious as to their purpose and not nearly as old.  This man made ladder built with materials literally an arm’s length away serves as a safe passage for climbers to access what they desire most.  Rock walls to climb!  I love these man-made structures.  They are fun to photograph, handy to use and tell a story of determination.  Sadly, this ladder (located at the Dark Side climbing area) has succumbed to the damp west coast weather and a new ladder built with modern day supplies has taken its place.
Suspension bridge along the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail
Not all trail infrastructure is primitive.  If the trail is part of a national or provincial park chances are bridge crossings are modern, sturdy, and safe.  Adventure attracts many outdoor enthusiasts to the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail so I suspect BC Parks has done its part to ensure the safety of all who use the trail.  These bridges are always fun to cross and I wish I could thank the hard working dedicated people who build these bridges.  If you happen to be one, I thank you!

Teddy Bear Junction at Myra-Bellevue Provincial Park
Kelowna, BC

Definitely one of the strangest sites I have even come upon while hiking.   Myra-Bellevue Provincial Park in Kelowna, BC was devastated by forest fires in 2003. While hiking to Rose Lookout we had to pass aptly named Teddy Bear Junction.  I have no idea what the purpose of this site is, even after a quick online search, but the kids sure got a kick out of it.  Wish we had a teddy bear with us to add to the collection but then…who hikes with a teddy bear?

Petroglyph at Jack Point Park near Nanaimo, BC

History is everywhere and it can be found while hiking trails. This Snuneymuxw Petroglyph at Jack Point (near Nanaimo, BC) tells a story of returning salmon and every season a ceremony was performed to ensure plenty for the community. Removed from its original location in the 70’s (where it sat in a museum), it was returned in the fall of 2008.  I have not been able to figure out the age of the petroglyph.  Sit beside this petroglyph, close your eyes, and as you listen to the waves crash ashore images of the salmon’s epic journey near the end of its life cycle are sure to appear.  

Creative woodworking along the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail

In order to get where you need to go, obstacles are in the way.  I love how many west coast trails use these obstacles to a hikers advantage.  I will never tire climbing up and down fallen tree carved stairs.  Each step I wonder when did the tree fall, did it block the trail or become the trail, and who carved all these stairs? 
Hidden shack west of Nanaimo, BC

A rustic, moss covered shed in the middle of nowhere.  Perfect for photographs and always a cool discovery.  Why this shed is here I do not know.  I suspect it has to do with mining or forestry, given the area we were in but who knows.  (Near McKay Lake west of Nanaimo) I was surprised to see it had not been vandalized or covered in graffiti like many other cabins and historical landmarks in the area.  There is still a story to be told here and hopefully others can discover it for a story of their own.
Cape Beale trail near Bamfield, BC

I love trail signs.  Even though I hike remote trails to get away from the modern world hoping to find nature I love finding trail signs.  I probably have an entire album of trail signs and love the craftsmanship that goes into each sign.  Some more than others, but I enjoy them all. This one was on a hiking trail near Bamfield, BC but if I were to choose the group who puts everything they got into their signs, hands down mountain bikers win! 

Perfect moment

Not every discovery is practical, required, or rich in history but when the hike ends with a spectacular view like this, I am glad those who have travelled before me took the time to create this swing.  Watching my son swing as the sun sets over Heriot Bay is the perfect way to end a day of adventure.  I suspect many before me share a story very similar to this.


  1. The fire in myra-bellview was 2003, not 1994

  2. Ah, yes. Thank you, I believe I mixed the dates with Myra and Garnet. (Garnet was 1994) I will update my post. Thank you! Do you happen to know the story behind Teddy Bear Junction?