A Chilliwack man has built a communal shelf at the top of a local mountain filled with bottled water, toilet paper and other items for hikers.
Bill Turnbull installed the three-tiered Community Shelf at the top of Mt. Thom on June 5, and he’s been maintaining it regularly ever since.
The idea came to him after he recently hiked the mountain for the first time.
“I didn’t realize how long it was to the top and my water was empty when I got there,” Turnbull said.
He said he saw a need for supplies up there, so the next time he went up the mountain he brought a four-foot tall shelving unit, three clear plastic totes with lids, plus a bunch of supplies.
The top tote has disposable gloves, hand sanitizer, wet wipes and “single-serve” portions of toilet paper in bags, he said. The middle shelf hold 24 bottles of water, and the bottom bin is for garbage and recycling.
There’s even a shovel propped up against the side of the shelf in case someone needs to dig a hole in which to go to the bathroom.
And it’s all being put to good use.
Every time he hikes up there – which is three times a week with his wife, Denise – all the water is gone. The two restock the shelf and remove the garbage and recycling.
Along their hike, they also pick up garbage that they find along the trail.
Turnbull even left his phone number on one of the totes in case anyone wanted to contact him about the project.
Someone from the city did.
They said they “appreciated the thought” but also wanted to make sure it wasn’t installed and then forgotten about, Turnbull said. The city said as long as he could maintain it, the Community Shelf could stay.
So far, Turnbull has been looking after it regularly. And so has the community.
“I’m very thankful that there has been no vandalism,” he said, adding that fellow hikers have also been keeping it clean.
Every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday he carries 12 litres of water (that’s 12 kilos) up Mt. Thom.
There are two routes to the top of the mountain: the shorter, 25-minute hike from the Churchill Parkway trailhead; and the longer hour-and-a-half hike which starts at Sylvan Drive. Currently Turnbull treks up the shorter distance, but is working his way up to doing the longer route.
He said maintaining the Community Shelf is helping him reach that goal.
“It’s my motivation for me to go up there three times a week and get my cardio and exercise,” Turnbull said.
He’s hoping fellow hikers will appreciate the Community Shelf.
“Even the smallest little act is worth more than the greatest intention,” he said.