Hutch: Hiking paw prints on my heart

Writer Randy McCallum documents a hike had with man's best friend

By Randy McCallum

Walking with my favourite hiking partner, Hutch, we decided this week to head up the Trail Society’s marked hiking path towards an old farmhouse foundation just up from Gorge Creek road. Living to learn and to generate smiles, my eager, handsome new personal trainer is a loyal member of Pat and Sue Vlanich’s household, my good friends from Sunningdale. They appreciate it when I pick Hutch up for another day of hiking and exercise. Today we’re heading up a clearly etched trail that can be seen when crossing the new or old bridge in East Trail. This easy trail, or old roadbed, crosses through a clear green patch of grassy meadows heading south towards Casino road above Columbia Heights, and it is probably one of the easiest hiking trails in the area. Hutch is never too far ahead, checking out the trail that leads to what, I have since learned, is the old Elders farm. When I finally catch up, this well-balanced Golden Retriever is gazing out across the Columbia Valley. I capture yet another digital imprint in time and notice Hutch is alert in that always self-confident disposition motioning that we still need to make it to the top for a final relaxing rest at a great vantage point that gives a view of the whole area. When I finally make it to the first switchback, heading back towards Gorge Creek, I see Hutch’s eyes beaming at me with a deep gentle expression, showing a spark of intelligence. Hutch’s strong well-fringed tail is always wagging. Soon I notice what must have been the Elder’s old farmhouse foundation and some rock walls that once routed the water table away. After a short investigation, we continue up the trail. My friend’s fluid movement moves ahead of me, making it to the destination viewpoint just above the power lines that run from Warfield across Lookout Mountain. I catch my breath and can see that Hutch is standing once again in that stunningly attractive pose, patiently waiting, his beautiful coat shining in the bright sunshine directly above downtown. I can’t help but think that when we make the trip down to the arena parking lot, the temperature gauge will be hovering above 40. The view of the valley past Teck Cominco and Tadanac towards Gyro is amazingly pleasant even though the full plant operations can be seen below. After a short stay we make our way back down the trail and stop in for a cool down in the cold water of the Columbia River at Gyro Park. I smile as I watch Hutch’s wonderful eager-to-please channel of enthusiasm make some young children smile. After a quick wade, we walk to my open topped 4×4 and head to Pat and Sue’s to drop Hutch off for a nap. I hug Hutch and beam a smile at my always cheery, golden haired personal trainer. It is time for me to head home for another afternoon of some software development. Accessibility: Easy to Moderate For hiking tips, area photos and guides, visit