Friday, July 29, 2011

BC Hiking - My First Hike

I got a call late on Tuesday night from my friend Helle,"Steve, we are going hiking tomorrow and I was wondering if you would be interested"?

The Chilliwack Fraser-Cheam area is next to some of the best hiking in the world, from lofty peaks, to valley trails the sights are unforgettable and uniquely west coast. I said "I'm in".

At 9:00 am the entire group was assembled at the Popkum roundabout to meet and carpool. There was a nice mixture of beginners, five of us including a couple visiting from Denmark and 3 experienced leaders including my friend Helle. I should mention the dog - Takoda a mixed breed with a wonderful attitude and terrific poser. After introductions we were off to a section of the Trans Canada Trail and former Kettle Valley rail line up the Coquihalia Highway.
Takoda amongst the Hawk-weed
The couple from Denmark, turned out to be father and daughter named Ulf, somehow I heard Wolf, and Rosa, I thought was Rose. Ulf and Rosa were coming close to the end of their month long holiday in western Canada. They had already enjoyed the Rockies and been out on a hike just two days prior.  In contrast I hadn't hiked for a decade and, okay, I am also carrying a few extra pounds.

One concern of mine when hiking is bears but I was reassured to learn that the group is quite chatty thereby advertising its presence in the forests so that no bears are surprised, they then have time to retreat.  Sometimes hikers wear bells on their backpacks for the same purpose. Bear spray, bear bangers are also kept readily at hand.

No Bells, Black Beat Scat
I asked Wolf, "How can you tell whether you are in Grizzly or Black bear country"?  He told me that a massive shoulder hump gives the Grizzly bear away; that and the hiker bells found in Grizzley scat (poop).

We turned off the Coquihalla Highway 5 at the Portia intersection, parked, shouldered our packs, wiggled through a massive yellow gate and began walking, it was 9:45 am.

This hike, the Coquihalla Summit Trail, took us along in part down the former Kettle Valley Railway and in part along the Trans Canada Trail.  The grades are not difficult.  It soon became evident that along with mushrooms a riot of wildflowers were in bloom and the photographers in the group were given time to take some pictures of them.

Wild Mushroom

Through a forest canopy we walked.

The wildflowers were quickly named by our leader Sue and Tracey and included Hawk-weed, Red Columbine, the delicate forest Tiger Lily, Red Paint Brush, Yellow Salsify, Oxeye Daisies and the list just goes on and on....

Wild Strawberries
My favourite plant were the wild strawberries. These berries although "pea" sized packed a real punch of flavour putting store bought strawberries to shame.
At 1 o'clock we arrived at an old railway snowshed and had a break for lunch. I was ready for a rest and a chance to explore this old structure.
Snowshed KVR
We could tell from some of the dates stamped into the concrete that a lot of railway work had been done in 1944 and 1956 and couldn't help but think when, and why, it was decommissioned. This dramatic tag may tell the tale as to when.
Work Train Last Supper June 20, 1962
After our break we continued on through a second train tunnel and then to the "Hole in the Wall".  The “Hole in the Wall” is a circular hole approximately 4’ in diameter cut through a solid granite wall. It is open to the sky for about 8’ and then it falls into a lower opening and finally emerges as a waterfall. The following photograph does not do it justice.
Hole in the Wall KVR
Hiking it turns out is a great way to get to know people and talking helps those miles disappear. At about 2 PM we turned around. This time fewer pictures were taken, the party was on the march!

A blister on my right heal began to form, fortunately these hikers are well prepared and a band aid solution materialized. A few miles further my left heel began to complain and a second a band aid was offered. About 5 pm my wife called to "ask where are you" in a hushed tone I said "we are still walking...that is hiking... I'm all in."

A day later, I am feeling fine and looking forward to another hike in the near future.

Imagine living here...

Interested in hiking in this spectacular part of the world? Here are some handy links:

Stephen Mullock RI is an award winning full-time real estate agent with 30 years of experience and hundreds of sales. Thinking of buying or selling real estate in the Fraser Cheam communities of Chilliwack, Agassiz or Harrison Hot Springs? Contact Steve (click here) for experience, local knowledge and friendly service you’ll be happy you did.

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