From Ladysmith to Marie Canyon: Retreads hikers have been busy

Retreads travelled to Ladysmith where they met up with Duncan and Mill Bay members to hike up to Heart and Stocking Lakes.

Retreads travelled to Ladysmith where they met up with Duncan and Mill Bay members to hike up to Heart and Stocking Lakes.

We were ever grateful that David Rife of the Duncan Outdoor Group was there to lead the 17 members on this hike because he knew a moderately gentle way to climb the 900 plus feet from the parking lot to Stocking Lake. The trail moved along the  B.C. Hydro transmission right-of-way, across a new development with a super view and then for a considerable distance ever up through forest roads and trails.

Once we reached the pristine lake we stopped and admired the scene and watched a fish jumping to catch its lunch. We then hiked on along a trail through the forest around the lake. After we traversed the length of Stocking Lake we continued for a short distance until we reached the smaller Heart Lake. Here we found suitable rocks and even a single plastic chair above the lake where we sat and enjoyed lunch and a well earned rest. One member was heard to say “Darn, I forgot to pack my lunch,” but people rallied around and shared an apple here and half a sandwich there and problem solved.

From Heart Lake back down to the Hydro line we faced a very steep and challenging hill and recalled why we were glad Dave had led us up the more gentle way. Words like heart-break hill, or worse, came to mind.

A week later found eight of us starting out from Marie Canyon Trestle on a hike that follows the river for 5 kilometres before joining the Trans Canada Trail for a return hike of 3km. The part of the trail along the river is really scenic with high views of the rapids and then down along the slower flowing wide gravelly sections. While it did not have the elevation change of the Ladysmith hike, it took some energy to cover that 8km hike.

When explaining the hikes to a newcomer, two thing stand out. First, you have a chance to share experience with a diverse group of interesting people. Second, over a number of months, you have a chance to see in detail, many parts of the wonderful Cowichan Valley from the Kinsol Trestle in the south  to Cedar in the north, with side trips down to Port Renfrew area. Interested? Pick up a schedule at the arena, or call Jean Cozens at 250 -749-6156.

— Submitted by David Kidd