Hiking in the place of the deformed

Last week, the dog and I went for a ‘hike’ on the logging roads that run about Mount McGuire, just southeast of Chilliwack. It was our first outing of the year and both of us were moving pretty slowly by the time we limped back to where my van was parked on Chilliwack Lake Road. We had climbed approximately 250 meters in elevation on the icy, snow covered mountain before turning around and heading back already well exhausted. It seems the two of us are in fairly poor shape.

As someone whose peaceful fishing has been disturbed on more than one occasion by the roar of ATVs cutting through the wild, I’ve always turned my nose up at the thought of buying one. Now I’m not so sure. I really don’t care for the noise — it’s hard to learn from a mountain without listening to it — but it would be nice to cover more ground and get a little deeper into the wild than my legs are apparently capable of carrying me. The trouble is that if I buy one for myself, I’d also have to buy one for the dog and it’s far too easy to imagine that crazy son of a bitch chasing off after some rabbit at full throttle, disappearing over the horizon never to be seen again.

We also might not have noticed as much had we’d been travelling faster. Moving at the pace of sun-stroked turtles, we spotted a fair amount of animal sign in the snow, all of which had to be photographed and sniffed extensively. I won’t tell you who took care of what, but I will admit that the dog has mad camera skills, for a dog. We also stumbled across a spot where someone had left an unsightly mess of 12 gauge shotgun casings, clay targets, and Budweiser empties. Seven of the clays had been missed completely — Budweiser doesn’t improve one’s aim? — and lay in perfect condition in the snow. I tucked the unbroken clays and two of the casings into my pack.1

So, for the time being at least, we’ll content ourselves with exploring on foot as best we can. I hope to eventually get to know all the mountains and trails in that area and Mount McGuire, standing tall at over 2,000 meters, seemed as good a mountain as any with which to start. Plus, I was intrigued by the legend surrounding its original name, Tamihi Mountain.

The native name goes far back into the history of the Chilliwacks. In ancient times, according to legend, it was this mountain that the deformed or misfits in communal life were taken by their guardians. Here on Tamihi they were left to fend for themselves, and there was little chance of survival. T’ehmeehiy in the Chilliwack language means “the place of the deformed.”2

Heading out that day, I had no idea of just how fitting the name Tamihi would later seem. I imagine the two of us looked entirely appropriate in the place of the deformed as we awkwardly hobbled our way back down the mountain. Still, I can’t shake the feeling that, even with a name like Tamihi, the mountain deserves explorers in better shape than the dog and I.

  1. I appear to be conducting an investigation, the purpose of which is unknown at this time.
  2. The Chilliwacks and Their Neighbors
    by Oliver N. Wells

2 Responses to “Hiking in the place of the deformed”


  • Quite an inspiring article. I think most of us go through a winter dormancy, so getting going again in the spring is hard, especially when there is still snow around. You and the dog will be leaping from mountaintop to mountaintop by the end of the summer. 🙂 Your photography is interesting in its very focussed views – you don’t seem to be a panorama kind of guy – but the semi-macro views are great (love the deer footprint). I don’t think I’ll ever be able to hike with you, though, because my end-of-summer mode is less agile than your first-hike-in-spring mode. *sigh*

  • Thanks, Iris.

    Since dropping my camera in the middle of a lake, I’ve left most of the photography to the dog. Consequently, the photos tend to suffer from an overt canine perspective and the various technical limitations of his smartphone.

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