2020 has been a landmark year for everyone, but in the case of Hope Mountain Centre for Outdoor Learning, that was a great thing.
Hope Mountain Centre program director Kelly Pearce presented the year-end recap before the District of Hope Council during the Feb. 22 meeting.
Volunteers with the Mountain Centre made improvements along eight existing trails and one new trail, the much-anticipated Dragon’s Back Trail. Work included clearing brush, logs, repairing winter storm damage and building logbook boxes.
Since the closure of the landmark Othello Tunnels due to the pandemic, Pearce noted the trails have seen use from a number of hikers who passed through the area.
“The comments section (of the logbooks) was really interesting; a number of people said ‘Well, the Othello Tunnels were closed this summer, but I’m so glad we came up to the Lookout and got this beautiful view; it’s just as good'” Pearce told council. “A lot of people were happy they had discovered a new alternative thrill in Hope’s backyard.”
Along the Hudson’s Bay Company trail, the logbook recorded about 300 multi-day hikers this year, a majority of which hiked the 70-plus kilometre trail.
Pearce said the most effort this year went into the brand-new, “almost open for business” Dragon’s Back Trail, which also goes by the Halqemeylem name Kw’okw’echiwel Stl’aleqem, which means “Lookout of the Two-Headed Serpent.” Pearce said archaeological work done prior to the trail’s construction indicated the area was used as a safety lookout to help guard the villages along the river. He added there were other significant archaeological finds along the trail, which will be explained in future interpretive signage along the trail.
The trail starts in the Silver Creek area and has been many months in the making. It is about three kilometres long from Silver Skagit Road to a lookout over Hope. Along the trail, there are switchbacks and cedar staircases to guide hikers through some of the tougher uphill terrain on the way up to the lookout.
Volunteers donated about 850 working hours – roughly $13,000 worth of free labour – improving and creating trails this year.
To learn how you can help, visit hopemountain.org.