Tuesday, April 23, 2024
April 23, 2024

Trail and Nature Club welcomes outdoor enthusiasts

By MARGRIET RUURS

SPECIAL TO THE DRIFTWOOD

What exactly is the Salt Spring Trail and Nature Club (SSTNC)?

Charles Kahn, a well-known island author of, among many others, the book Hiking the Gulf Islands, is one of the club’s most active members. In the history he recorded for the club, he states that “for half a century it was the largest interest group on the island.”

Formed in 1973, the club has promoted walking and hiking for over 50 years. They encourage and enable hiking our island’s natural areas in the broadest sense of the word. Volunteers from SSTNC work in cooperation with different levels of government — such as CRD and BC Parks — maintain and improve trails but also help to acquire new land or access. 

Other volunteers keep the club running by serving on the Board, collecting membership dues and chairing meetings. And throughout the years it is volunteers who lead walks, offering an opportunity to anyone to enjoy company while hiking a trail.

Some of the earliest trails on Salt Spring Island date back to before cars came to the island. And many still exist thanks to generous landowners willing to share access to private property. Some of the first instrumental members of the club who have since passed away are commemorated through memorial benches placed along the very trails they built or hiked. 

Three different levels of hikes are offered each Tuesday, from September to June: Ramblers, Walkers and Hikers. 

The most laid-back level is Ramblers, who walk without pressure and often stop for breaks to take a photo or spot a bird. Ramblers often end their walk at a local coffee shop.

Walkers go at a leisurely pace, stopping to smell the roses along the trail. They generally walk less than eight kilometres at a time and avoid long, steep climbs, but do need sturdy footwear. 

Hikers will go on longer, strenuous hikes and often gain altitude. They need to be in general good shape. Of course, participants can switch between groups to find their personal level of comfort. Hikers also go out on Sunday afternoons, meeting at 1 p.m. at ArtSpring.

Besides these weekly walks, the club organizes bird watching, archaeology walks, as well as guest speakers on botany, travel and much more. Once a month, hikers and walkers can participate in an off-island trip to explore trails elsewhere. Carpooling is coordinated for these and local events. Check out the website for schedules and other details: saltspringtnc.ca

If you would like to join a group of like-minded outdoor enthusiasts for an easy-going ramble, a leisurely walk or an energetic hike, you are welcome to join the club’s activities. You can attend three times before committing to the annual membership fee of $30.

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