Over Christmas we took our kids and grandchildren on a few of the local hikes.

On Vancouver Island there are hundreds of hiking trails.  Only a small percentage were developed and maintained by the government as park trails.  The kind of trails they have in Ontario with almost carpeted ground and no tripping hazards.   The vast majority follow old logging roads and trails cut and maintained by volunteers.  No one to sue if you trip and fall.   I have often wondered about what kind of person spends the time to maintain trails where they are not paid to do so.

Pat and I belong to a hiking club part of Probus a club for retired and active people.  I have gone on a number of hikes with the club which allowed me over Christmas to take the kids and grandchildren on a few that are not listed in the tourist maps.  They were actually the hikes rated easy by our club.

Today I joined a group (8 in all) on a hike up the Trent River just 20 km south of us.  This time we were joined by a founding member of the club Earl.  Now I have heard about Earl in the club but this is the first time I have hiked with him.  Earl is a retired army guy (older than I am) who loves hiking and travels all over the world to do it.  He lives in Comox Valley and his hobby is to maintain trails and create new ones.  This is a 3 – 4 day a week hobby that he does year round.

If you kids remember the short hike to Brown River Falls with the rickety plank over the stream, that is one of his creations.  Before that it was straight bush and no one hiked there.

Today we did a 12 km hike up the Trent River.  We started near the ocean and had arranged for cars to pick us up at the inland highway.

It was overcast but 7°C and misty after a couple of days of rain so the route was wet.  Purposely picked because the Trent River is not fed from a lake but depends on rainfall to make the waterfalls stand out.

The first 8 km is easy on normal trails along the ridge that looks down on the river (at some points 80 m above the river)  Old logging trails and trails maintained for hikers and bikers and ATVs.   Then we came to a pink ribbon on a treer.  That is where we turned onto an Earl trail.  I thought they were joking because it looked like pure wet jungle.  The trail wandered over logs and and through deep typical West Coast rain forest trees.  I only call it a trail because apparently Earl had hiked it earlier in the week with his machete to clear it.

For some reason I was the lead.  (I think possibly because of my initial comment about the trail)

Wet ferns and logs and bushes haphazardly wandering through trees that spread above you.  I was reminded of the scene from the movie Romancing the Stone when Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner are fighting through the jungle only to find a plane.  I was making reference to this when we very suddenly came to the edge of a cliff and looked down on a gorgeous waterfall on the river.  Over the next half hour as we continued up the river we came across 3 more waterfalls ranging from 10 feet to 30 feet high.  Beautiful

These are waterfalls that NO ONE sees unless they take the Earl trail and that would be very rare.  The bitching about the trail difficulty stopped as we viewed each set of falls.  Eventually we turned back south and joined the normal trail on a loggers road.  Earl told us that he knew the falls were there from looking at geo landscape profiles and cut this trail for those that wanted to see them.   Obviously very few follow it.  Earl and a friend purposely cut and laid out the trail using tools they carried on their backs for the single purpose of viewing the falls.  Apparently took them a month a few years ago.  I was exhausted walking yet and cannot imagine the energy to cut the trail.  Never-the-less it is a very basic trail little more than a deer track.

I doubt if more than a few hundred people have taken the challenge of the trail (and it must be done after a heavy rain to see the falls)  Only two of the falls are actually named.

My legs hurt, my ankles hurt and I was soaked.  Felt like a real explorer, but admit was very happy to see Pat with Jill and the two vehicles at the trail end by the Inland highway waiting for us.

This is a special area where we live.

Trent R. Falls, 16 Jan.14