Outdoor enthusiasts have frequented the Comox Valley for decades and one mountaineering club is nearing one very big milestone.
Founded in 1928, the Comox and District Mountaineering Club has been bushwacking, exploring, building and guiding in mountains and nearby Strathcona Park.
Many early projects included the exploration of Mt. Becher and the Forbidden Plateau area, with Clinton Wood building the first Forbidden Plateau Lodge in the 1930s.
They say most of the early trails are still in use today, and you can see the “blaze” marks (made by axes on trees) from those early days.
The group has promoted and maintained trails in the area, and president Ken Filliter says its mission has always stayed true to its goals.
“I think they’ve stayed consistent in that a lot of it is exploration, a lot of it is friendship, a lot of it is the maintenance of the trails, and giving the best we can to keep Strathcona in as good of shape as possible,” said Filliter.
He adds the day-to-day idea is to get outdoors, make some friends and enjoy the beauty that can be found in the Island backcountry.
As the Comox Valley has changed, however, he says more and more people are entering the backcountry and that can be both a positive and negative situation.
“It’s good to see more people but it puts more stress on the environment, on the trails and so on,” said Filliter. “It’s a mixed blessing.
“Certainly there are some people who are unprepared. I think with cellphones and so on there’s somewhat of a false sense of security.”
He says the club also promotes trail etiquette through various programs like first aid among others.
The way forward for the group will include “big things,”, according to Filliter. That could mean creating a new trail, or improving a trail and adding to what they already do for the area’s trails.
“I think it’s important to get as many people as possible in a wide range of physical abilities and ages, getting them out and enjoying the great outdoors.”
The group has set out challenges for outdoor enthusiasts of different levels to complete from now until their anniversary. They include 20 “explorer” hikes and 28 “daytripper” hikes.
Daytripper hikes include walks in the Cumberland Community Forest, Mt. Elma, and Mt. Drabble. The explorer trips include Castlecrag, Comox Glacier, and Della Falls.