Chilliwack’s hiking community is really starting to click.
Social media has connected hikers from various point on the map, as they post photos and hiking tips, ask each other for advice, and share their experiences online. They chat on Facebook, share images on Instagram, and help promote Chilliwack’s many peaks, valleys, rivers and lakes on Twitter.
And after B.C. Day, it’s safe to assume this tight-knit community will be even closer.
Destination BC and Tourism Chilliwack have teamed up for Chilliwack’s first official Instagram Instameet, on Elk Mountain. Leading the way will be @intherivervalley, also known as local hiker and photographer Roxanna Froese.
Instameets are a fairly regular occurrence, Froese said, but Destination BC (@hellobc) has encouraged communities across the province to hold Instameets on the holiday Monday, as a way to connect British Columbians and promote all their favourite places. And in Chilliwack, one of the most beloved hikes is the Elk/Thurston trail.
Elk is a four-hour total journey, from its trailhead on Elk View Road. It’s listed as a difficult hike with Tourism Chilliwack, and Froese agrees it’s a good training ground. She tries to hit that trail about twice a week, but it’s just one of many she ventures out on, either alone, with friends, or with her young family.
She’s also a professional photographer, and longtime Instagram user.
So Froese was the perfect person to lead the Instameet, on behalf of Tourism Chilliwack. In a way, she was leading the charge already.
“Some of my (Instagram) followers are starting to recognize me and say ‘hey you’re @intherivervalley!,'” she says. “It’s a great community, a great place to connect, to plug families into. It makes it safer and more fun, and you’re working together like you have a common goal.”
There is a simplicity to the way Instagram works, creating great photography with user-friendly filters and editing tools. And once your photos are uploaded to Instagram, they’re out there in the ether for anyone to see.
“I really like the connection on Instagram,” Froese says. “It’s unique, in that it reaches everybody rather than being selective like Facebook, or having to be searched for like a blog.
“I think it’s just really the simplicity.”
It’s similar to the simplicity of hiking, something she’s instilling into her four young children. At the ages of two, four, six and eight, they come along for hikes and are a pretty accomplished little group of hikers.
“They all hike and we just finished the Vedder Ridge trail,” she says. And while the youngest often takes the backseat, in a back pack, she is starting to venture out as well.
“She’s starting, and can go about two kilometres,” Froese adds. “It’s really neat in this day and age, because kids are raised around a lot of technology, and studies are finding that kids are stressed and anxious, and we’re learning that time outside in nature is really important for them and we’ve taken that to the next level.”
And that’s the point behind the Instameet. With many people having the stat holiday off work, the Instameet is designed to inspire more people to get exploring. Elk Mountain is the pride of Chilliwack, with a view of the city and stunning scenery at every turn.
“Elk is a great symbol of Chilliwack, and they wanted something that would really showcase Chilliwack,” Froese says. “We wanted something kind of spectacular.”
Elk is a good fit for an Instameet because it offers the views and challenge without the need of a 4×4. Chilliwack’s most popular trails are mapped out in detail by Tourism Chilliwack, and information is available on their website and at their office at the Visitor Information Centre.
They’re all great hikes, Froese enthuses.
“There are so many in Chilliwack,” she says. “Every time I hike a new lake, it’s my new favourite. There are so many hikes that I want to do, but I’m focusing on smaller ones for now.”
As her kids get older and can handle longer treks, she’ll also venture out further.
There are prizes to be had for those who join the Instameet. Photos need to include the hashtags #sharechilliwack and #exploreBC.
The grand prize is a GoPro camera, but there will also be yoga passes to Studio B Yoga, for the best yoga pose on Elk. Other prizes include four Cultus Lake Waterpark passes, a Mt. Waddington Outdoors guided hike, and a one month unlimited membership and $100 gift card from Ascend Fitness.
This hike is an 8km journey which takes approximately four hours. Elevation gain is 800 metres. Please ensure you bring snacks and water with you.
If your B.C. Day travels take you further than Chilliwack, there are twenty-plus other communities holding Instameets, including New Westminster, White Rock, Harrison Hot Springs, Hope, Langley, Gibsons, Powell River, Creston Valley, Naramata and more.
For more information on these meets, visit blog.hellobc.com.
Directions to Elk/Thurston trailhead: Take Prest Road to Bailey Road, turn left and go 1 km to the bottom of the hill, turning right and uphill on Elk View Road. Stay on the same road for 8 km, where the pavement ends and the road continues straight ahead for 2 km, as Chilliwack Bench Forest Service Road. Watch for the gravel pit/parking lot on the left, and the trailhead to the right.