Thursday, February 7, 2013

The local hill: a walk up Mt. Erskine

Everyone should have a local mountain, a place that looms large in a person's everyday physical and psychological landscape. The mountain need not be climbed on a regular basis or ever at all. It doesn't have to be especially challenging and can have offer a variety of methods to reach the top. Come to think of it, a local mountain doesn't even really have to be a mountain at all, any old hill can suffice quite nicely. What's important is the mountain's ability to inspire the imaginations and the wonder of those who live in its shadow. It's prominence can inspire, it's presence can reassure and, if all else fails, it can always be a great spot to spend a Saturday afternoon.
The view from the top can offer an inspiring view at any time of year.
Salt Spring Island offers a handful of local-mountain contenders. Mine is Mt. Erskine, a rocky outcrop that overlooks a good stretch of the island's eastern shoreline, some Gulf Islands to the north and the busy little pulp mill town of Crofton, B.C.

I can usually spot the summit on my way to work on all but the foggiest or darkest of mornings and it's elevation of a mere 410 metres (1,345-feet) always plays the temptress. It's common to see people head up one of the two trails to the summit during lunch or after work, even in winter when the rain and early nightfall do their best to keep people near a warm pot of tea and a comforting wood stove.

Foggy scene on the way to the summit.

My preferred route is the Jack Fisher Trail, accessed across the street from a small pullout along Collins Road. At times, it's tough slog, but the trail is easy enough to follow and a little persistence can get most people to the top in an hour or so. When in doubt, keep heading uphill and the trail will eventually spit you out at a rocky summit where a comfy wooden bench and stone-carved dog bowl reward two- and four-footed hikers alike. There's also a log book amidst the rocks for anyone inspired to mark their visit in prose.

Despite its consistent presence in my daily viewscape, Mt. Erskine offers an ever-changing display of people and scenery over the course of the year. You can meet everyone from the athletically inclined who are after new personal speed records to folks out for a casual walk, alone or with friends. I've even run into a couple of people over the years who've climbed the mountain in their bare feet.

Perhaps they'd learned a thing or two from those elusive Erskine fairies.

No comments:

Post a Comment