For now, for each adventure we select something new, so we can get to know more about this great area. Looking on a map there are so many parks, trails, waterways, that it’s hard to choose. But of course we have heard stories of where Nicky and Derek have been and one of them is Mount Tzouhalem (‘zoo-hay-lum’) so we decided on a hike for today.
It’s named after a chief who was banished due to his murderous lifestyle. He lived out his days with his 14 wives in a cave on the side of the mountain, actually killed by either the husband or his wife of the 15th attempted conquest on Penalekut Island.
Today it’s one of those ‘great bang for your buck’ hikes. The drive to the trailhead was spectacular, driving up the lower slopes, through a gorgeous residential area called ‘The Properties”. We could only guess at the price tag of the homes, many of which had driveways that you need a sport ute to get up, but most with phenomenal views of the valley and mountains beyond.
The hike is only a couple hundred metres in elevation and 3 km or so to the top. We took a circuitous route up, partly on purpose and partly because there are SO many trails crisscrossing the mountainside. It was a beautiful hike. Of course we again loved the tall trees, ferns and green everywhere. Even though the trees are tall, it feels open because of the lack of underbrush.
At the top, we loved this first viewpoint. It’s always hard to capture it on camera, but the panoramic setting on the iPhone does a pretty fine job. It captures the vista from the waters around Saltspring Island, low tide in Cowichan Bay, the towns in Cowichan Valley and the mountains beyond. It’s a beautiful spot.
Many of the trails that weave around the mountain are for bikes and we were in awe of the ones doing this on their bikes; we did meet a couple guys. I’m sure half of the vehicles in the parking lot were for bikers. Having done only a little trail riding so far, we can imagine how tough this is.
Arubutus trees were plentiful. These are the distinctive trees found in the area, especially in rocky, sunny areas. They are in fact an evergreen that flowers in the spring and grow red berries in the fall. The bark is that distinctive orange/red color that peels, exposing a satiny trunk underneath. They often have lovely shapes, with many trunks/branches with gnarled shapes.
After spending some time on the top, we made our way down past a couple more viewpoints and thoroughly enjoyed our short but spectacular hike on the mountain.
The weather has been so great lately – blue cloudless skies, mid to high 20’s but no humidity. Such a nice change from Ottawa. We we then enjoyed an afternoon on the deck reading and/or sleeping in the sun, enjoying the view.