Monday, May 21, 2018

A Class Hike on Mt Pkols

... look way down the path for the rest of the hikers ...
People who are in the Indigenous Legal Methods university course decided to meet at the lower parking lot of Mt. Pkols for a hike on Saturday of the Victoria Day long weekend.

 Dr. Val Napolean and Rebecca said that they would stop along the way up the hill, talking about the plants on the mountain and giving us some stories to attach to the trails.

Liam. Emily. Catherine. Niko. Alex. Val. Rebecca. Arta. Liam’s puppy.

That was the group of us going up the hill. Val picked trails that I haven’t walked before. There was a rock scramble at the top to finally get to the summit.

One of the stops along the way was at a small bridge to talk about Skunk Cabbage.

I am not unfamiliar with skunk cabbage.

The flowers are gone now and the leaves are losing that new greenness and becoming more the forest green that I am accustomed to.

The leaves of the skunk cabbage are used to line fire pits.
... time for a rest and a drink of water ...

Then food is wrapped in them.

The leaves don’t smell, only the flowers do.

The plant has a waxy water-filled leaf.

The outside leaves eventually scorch in the pit fire and burn, going to ashes, leaving the food ready to be eaten.

Another interesting point is that if the deer are eating the skunk cabbage and are shot shortly afterward, the meat picks up that “skunk” smell.

The beginning stages of another flower in the forest in the Fall, signals that it is time to kill the deer, but not before then.

I think Rebecca also said that this is a plant that doesn’t want to attract the usual bees and butterflies to pollinate, but needs to have the same pollinators who will eat rotting meat: worms, flies and insects.

I like making lists, so I was interested in the four categories of plants on the hill: food, medicine, tools and indicator plants.

Moss on the side of a number of trees is a good indicator of where the sun is, for instance.

 This all goes to the argument that we can learn from plants – that they give us knowledge, food, etc.

Since I am thinking about this right now, there is no doubt that the trunks of young trees are tools for me.

 I was trying to keep up with people who can scramble up mountains.

 I feel some disconnect to the bottoms of my feet.

 They have fewer nerves than they used to have that help me find balance. But knowing that, I was careful to walk slowly, make sure I had the potential to remain stable, and I did grab onto branches when necessary since there are no bannisters in the forest.

The Douglas Firs are so large in the rainforest part of this hike. I stood by one and couldn’t see to the top of it. Rebecca told the story of Xels (sounds like hails, but spitting a bit on the “h” sound), a creation story. Rebecca said that the story goes, in the world, there had been a big guy, clumsy, knocking down streets and accidentally kicking people out into the ocean. He was turned into a Douglas Fir. The warning is that his big feet are still stripping people. I got it. I am to watch for the roots of the Douglas Fir as I walk – they are a tripping hazard. Rebecca also reminded us of the cedars, every piece of them giving – ropes, branches, containers, beds to lay on at night, etc.

The orange honey suckle is out on the hill– the vine weaving itself around trunks and branches so that it looks like trees are in bloom. The orange is so vivid that it is one of the outstanding colours of the forest right now.

We stopped to taste a small leaf growing by the path, long, green, delicious, the taste reminiscent of the lemony and bitter taste of arugula.

Broom is in bloom as well – a brilliant yellow flowers on the bushes. Purists know it is an invasive specious, and so there was some talk of trying to remove it from the hill, but bushes of it are everywhere. Not to make a laundry list, but all of the plants we saw were ones that are familiar to us from the interior: Oregon grape bushes along the side of the road, for example and Rebecca picked some salmon berry leaves to show how to make them into cones that can hold berries, when berry picking time arrives.

Val stopped us on the hill to point out the humming birds that were flitting, then diving in a small copse of trees. As well, below us, we could see the eagles soaring on currents of wind.

At the summit there is a 360 degree view of the world. Someone asked why some of the property looked like agricultural land, wondering really, why it hadn’t been sold into residential properties over the years. The reason is that on coming to this port, this area was taken over by the navy who used the large cedar pools for their ships. They had the prime interests in that land. So the cedar trees of the area were logged out by those early colonizers. Then the government took over the land and could see that it would be better to keep this area as a preserve. Thus the names of the streets around this district are Cedar Hill Road, Cedar Crossing, Cedar Hill Cross Street, Cedarwood Street, Cedar Cove, etc.

Dr. Val Napoleon invited us to her home afterward. We had muffins, one a blend of quinoa flour, millet seeds, dates and figs. The other muffin has sugar sprinkled on the top. Val said that was because she had forgotten to put it in the batter. I thought that was an innovative way to solve that problem I have had myself. I drank red Chinese tea brought to the party by Catherine, one of the students. Rebecca wanted to know what is special about red Chinese tea. There was no answer. I am going to have to go to google to find out.

After eating, the conversation turn to work we are doing in class, since that is the one thing we all have in common – trying to find meaning to the words Legal Process in the context of Indigenous stories. I don’t know how many times this fact has to be confirmed for me as we talk about these stories: there are no right and wrong answers. The stories have multiple interpretations and our job is to figure out what those are. The stories are coming at us with such speed, one layering on top of another. I love talking about ideas after a long hike and then having refreshments in front of us.

What is the issue in the story? Where are the facts (both said and unsaid)? What can the interpretation be. And what facts are bracketed – important maybe but to be thought about later.

It is Victoria Day week-end.

A marching band was out practising their instruments, going up and down the streets, marching and playing tunes. 

We heard and saw them going both ways, up the street and down the street.

Best day ever.


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