Every fall there’s a hike I like to do when the colours are at their peak.
I knew it was the day for it last weekend when I awoke to a bright blue sky. With excitement and anticipation, I drove just outside of Whitehorse to one of my favourite spots and headed up into the hills.
I walked for about an hour in a kind of autumnal reverie with the buckbrush blazing red and orange and the blueberries and cranberries in abundance all around me.
As I was focusing intently on the colourful tapestry of small, delicate alpine plants at my feet, suddenly a swath of dark brown dirt appeared. I was so surprised it took a few moments for me to realize I was looking at a freshly cut motorcycle trail.
I felt sick at heart.
I followed the trail for about six metres, feeling more and more sickened by the clods of dirt strewn over the lichens and mosses. And I thought how, if I actually ran into the machine and its owner, the feeling of heartsickness would turn into rage, an emotion that is extremely rare for me.
I veered off the trail and continued up the mountain trying to recapture my previous sense of well-being.
I will most likely return to this hike again next year, but I will never feel quite the same about it. The appreciation will be there, but it will be tinged with sadness and the vision of this pristine piece of land having been violated.
We used to hike up the Fish Lake trail until one year we returned to find it churned up and widened tenfold by ATVs, and we’ve never been back since.
When I was young and misbehaving, my father used to say, “There is a time and place for everything and this is not the time or the placeÃ‰.” Maybe these people who rip through the wilderness unaware of what they destroy are like children who don’t know any better and just need to be educated?
For it really is no longer the time or the place for this kind of destruction of our beloved land.
I am not opposed to ATV’s. I waved at several as we passed on the dirt road up to the mountain. But there are already hundreds of existing trails around Whitehorse and to allow this wanton disregard to continue unchecked is irresponsible stewardship.