by Judith Belton
Many people have discovered the dyking project, initiated to protect us all from Cowichan River floods, but which has also given us kilometres of trails close to town for running, walking and biking.
I was south of Duncan recently, close to the Silver Bridge and on the south side of the river. I decided to try out the new dyked section,
which runs from the bridge and west, parallel to, and across from the Khowutzun Cultural Centre and buildings formerly occupied by Malaspina College. I started my morning run at the trailhead found at the rear of Adam’s Tarps and Tools. I headed west and the path took me (with a few exploratory side-trips) alongside the river. I travelled across the railway tracks and Black Bridge and behind the Cowichan Tribes lands and playing field to where the trail merges with the road (Church Rd.), that runs to the white Shaker church. The dyke trail goes a little way from that point across Allenby Road and then disappears into the woods beside the river (this is on Cowichan Tribes land).
For my return trip, I retraced my steps mostly, although I did try and connect my run with the path on the other side of the river (north of the Silver Bridge), but was blocked by some fencing and gates. I ended up doing a run of nearly 6 kms., breathing air perfumed by cottonwood resin and the fresh water of the river. I met about half a dozen walkers, dog-walkers and strollers. I was doing this particular run at about 9 a.m., which I think, was an ideal time. I wouldn’t take it on earlier or in darkness. There was evidence of makeshift encampments in the woods on either side of the dyke trail – not inhabited when I was there, but they could get lively at other times, if passersby are infringing on their privacy. Next time I go, I will try and connect my run up with the old, established dyke path on the other side of the Island Highway.
Huy ch q’u to Cowichan Tribes for allowing me access to this trail and thanks to the CVRD, North Cowichan, Duncan, and Cowichan Tribes for working together on this dyking project.