People & Culture

Featured Fellow: Stephen Hui

The Vancouver author and photographer discusses writing, hiking and some of his most memorable experiences on the trails

  • Published Jun 05, 2023
  • Updated Jun 06
  • 818 words
  • 4 minutes
Author Stephen Hui on West Lion hike, August 2019. (Photo: Alexandra Juzkiw)
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Southwestern British Columbia is home to many popular hikes with Instagram-worthy views and breathtaking scenery. At the top of St. Marks Summit, hikers can enjoy jaw-dropping views of the Howe Sound and, along the trail to Illal Peak, endless alpine flowers and spectacular panoramas of the region provide hikers with plenty of photo opportunities. However, these trails can be much more of a challenge than they might appear on social media, and it’s important to consult reliable resources before hitting the trails. Thanks to Stephen Hui, Vancouver author, photographer and Royal Canadian Geographic Society Fellow, there are three books available that detail hiking trails in Southwestern B.C., including popular destinations, local favourites and hidden gems.

Hui’s books are 105 Hikes In and Around Southwestern British Columbia, Destination Hikes In and Around Southwestern British Columbia and Best Hikes and Nature Walks with Kids In and Around Southwestern British Columbia. He has completed every hike in each of his books, so readers can rest assured that the trail descriptions and tips are backed by experience.

Camping at Lightning Lake campground in E.C. Manning Provincial Park, B.C. August 7, 2011. (Photo: Stephen Hui)
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On how he started hiking

I grew up in Vancouver, so I started hiking in high school. Outdoor education opportunities were a big reason why I got into hiking. We didn’t do outdoor [activities] ourselves as a family, but my parents put me in scouts, which taught me how to camp, tie knots, and make fires. My elementary school sent us to an outdoor education camp for a few days during a couple of the years I was there. In high school, some of the teachers ran an outdoor club, and we did a week-long history hike for social studies class on a gold rush trail. [I had these] high school opportunities because teachers went the extra mile.

On his background in geography and journalism

I went to Simon Fraser University and got a Bachelor of Arts in Geography. In many ways, it has actually informed everything I’ve done after. [While studying at SFU], I worked at the student newspaper, the Peak, and that got me interested in journalism. Then, I worked at the Toronto Sun and the Georgia Straight, but I was always into journalism with an environmental focus.

Hike to Train Wreck Falls, B.C. August 11, 2020. (Photo: Stephen Hui) Copyright (c) 2020 Stephen Hui. https://105hikes.com
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On the response to his books

Overall, it’s been overwhelmingly rewarding. [Writing my books] has been a great excuse to learn a lot about the land, the water, the culture and the geography of the places we hike. [My books] have helped some people learn more about environmental responsibility and the cultural history aspects of hiking trails. It seems like there’s a lot of appetite for people to learn more about the trails of B.C. I’ve gotten to meet lots of people who were interested in hiking and who actually got more into hiking because of the books. Especially during the pandemic, there were lots of people wanting to go hiking and to get off the popular trails. It seemed like my second book came out at just the right time for that.

On including Indigenous knowledge

Cease Wyss, the Squamish ethnobotanist, wrote the foreword [for 105 Hikes]. Cecilia Point, a Musqueam activist, wrote the foreword for [Destination Hikes]. Myia Antone, a young Squamish language teacher who encourages young people to get back on the land, wrote the foreword [for Best Hikes and Nature Walks with Kids]. [They] have a lot of local knowledge about the area, and two would say that they don’t hike. They just go out on the land and harvest. It’s a different way of looking at the environment than most of the settler population. Also, I’ve learned that so many of the places we go to, the beautiful places especially, tend to be sacred places, and there are sacred stories associated with them. So it’s really important to be careful with them and not remove or disturb anything.

Hike to Thacker Mountain, B.C. December 8, 2019. (Photo: Stephen Hui)
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On his favourite hikes

In the first book, 105 Hikes, there’s Mount Rohr which is beautiful. There’s a beautiful turquoise lake, amazing mountain views, meadows, some snow and a little bit of scrambling. I like to put a few Washington hikes in the books, and there are beautiful hikes near Mount Baker. In the second book, Destination Hikes, there’s Hidden Lake Lookout [in Washington], which is probably one of the most beautiful hikes I’ve done. Closer to home, in my kid’s book (Best Hikes and Nature Walks with Kids), there’s a hike called Killarney Lake on Bowen Island, and that’s one I like to do with my son. Seeing wolves on the Nootka Trail on Nootka Island (off the west coast of Vancouver Island) and seeing Grey Whales from the North Coast Trail (also on Vancouver Island) was really cool. My favourite trail is the Sunshine Coast Trail in B.C. because that was the longest I’ve done — it’s about 10 days. Getting lost in the woods for that long was a different experience that was really special.

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