Local history lives in Stephen Hui's 105 Hikes In and Around Southwestern British Columbia

    1 of 2 2 of 2

      In the introduction to 105 Hikes In and Around Southwestern British Columbia, Coast Salish author and ethnobotanist T’uy’t’tanat–Cease Wyss reminds readers of the history of the land where they walk. It’s a history that’s far longer than the 240-some years that Europeans and their settler descendants have travelled this region.

      “We love our sacred stséktsek, our forests, and we hope you love them too,” she writes. “These forests and smánit, these mountains, are the places where we have gathered s7ílhen (foods), k’éytl’tanay’ (medicines), materials for our cultural regalia, and tools for creating the important treasures that we spent centuries learning about.

      “Our hope, as Indigenous peoples, is that through your time in our ancestors’ homes in the natural world, you will become as deeply connected to these wonderful and beautiful places that have cared for our peoples—as we have, hopefully, cared for them.”

      In a telephone interview, the guidebook’s author and photographer, former Georgia Straight staff writer Stephen Hui, says it was very important to him to help people explore southwestern B.C. with an appreciation for the Indigenous peoples who were the first to call this land home, as well as with a knowledge of the history, positive and negative, that makes B.C. what it is today.

      “If you’re standing on top of Mount Erskine on Salt Spring Island, one of the islands you’re looking at was the site of a residential school that closed only a few decades ago,” Hui notes. “I mention that if you’re driving into Manning Park, you’re driving past Sunshine Valley, and that used to be a Japanese internment camp.

      “So I tried to put some social content in the hikes and also acknowledge that it’s all Indigenous land,” Hui continues. “I tried to acknowledge the territories of the hikes you go into. I did a lot of research on Indigenous toponyms or place names because definitely, reading most guidebooks, that history and presence is rather erased.”

      105 Hikes is the spiritual successor to 103 Hikes in Southwestern British Columbia, a beloved series by David and Mary Macaree that ran with irregular updates for almost 50 years. It’s an entirely new guidebook that Hui researched and compiled from scratch, drawing on 25 years’ experience on B.C. trails.

      “The 103 Hikes franchise was the set of guidebooks that I grew up reading,” Hui says. “They were my favourites. My favourite books in general, out of all books. So it’s totally unexpected that I would take over the torch from that series.…It’s a great position to be in, and it was also a daunting challenge. It was a gift, but it was a ton of pressure.”

      Hui recounts how he met that challenge with a simple goal: “I set out to write a guidebook that I would want to use,” he explains. “That I thought would be useful to people, both hard-core hikers and the new generation of hikers.”

      Expanding on terrain covered in 103 Hikes, Hui’s book also includes trails on B.C.’s southern islands and in Washington state. Printed in vivid colour with a photograph and a map accompanying every hike, it’s a guidebook for outdoor enthusiasts that was obviously produced by a member of the hiking community who shares its values and appreciation for nature.

      Throughout are instructions and tips to maintain the Pacific wilderness that the occasional hiker might not think of or have heard before.

      “I tried to encourage minimum-impact practices that are known as ‘leave no trace’ ethics,” Hui says. “Don’t shortcut trails. If there’s a switchback, don’t shortcut them, because that leads to a lot of erosion. No littering. People think that they can throw an orange peel or a banana peel or eggshells in the woods because they’re natural. But that stuff actually takes quite a long time to decompose, and it really adds up. And be careful with your pee and poop, because it adds up too.”

      Stephen Hui will host book-launch events on Saturday (June 2) at MEC (130 West Broadway) and on June 12 at the ANZA Club (3 West 8th Avenue). For complete details, visit the 105 Hikes website.

      Follow Travis Lupick on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.