Music in the forest: My journey through a walkalong.

Image by Cheryl Bastedo.

Image by Cheryl Bastedo.

Have you ever hiked through coastal Douglas fir forest, guided by the melodies of musicians set up along the trail and perched atop tree stumps? On August 29th, I had the pleasure of volunteering at a magical event, the Galiano Conservancy Association’s 3rd Annual Walkalong for Learning.

This year, as walkers entered the forest at the trailhead, the faint sound of a harp could be heard through the cedar boughs. As walkers approached, they were able to stop and watch the harpist play among the sword ferns for as long as they desired, before continuing down the trail.

As the harp faded in the distance, the sound of a cello became audible. An array of other musicians enchanted walkers, until the sandstone shore where crashing waves blended with a guitarist’s melody and walkers could admire the view.

The next portion of the trail involved an uphill trek away from the shore, but luckily the distant sound of a trumpet carried walkers up through the Salal and Douglas firs effortlessly, until local musician Jack was in full view sitting against a tree with his trumpet. Further up, a harmonica player was perched atop a high tree stump like a hobbit, after which a mother-daughter violin duo could be heard floating down the trail.

At the halfway point, another volunteer and I gave out water and cookies and directed walkers either to the next portion of the cross-island hike or to the end of the family loop. Speakers were also posted along the trail, at locations such as the beaver swamp, where they informed walkers about the swap’s turtles. All musicians and speakers graciously volunteered their time and talent to the event.

After the walk, the Conservancy invited everyone involved to a celebration in their new Learning Center building, with food vendors, home made ice cream and cake and some of the same musicians from the walk.

The Galiano Conservancy Association is a non-profit organization based on Galiano Island, located in the Straight of Georgia, roughly halfway between Vancouver and Victoria. They are a non-profit society and charity dedicated to preserving and enhancing the natural environment. Aside from protecting and restoring nature, they also run environmental education programs. Some of the programs involve bringing inner city children to Galiano Island who could not otherwise afford the experience. The annual Walkalong for Learning raises funds for this purpose.

Walkalong participants are asked to make a small donation to do the walk, and collect as many pledges as possible from their friends, family and community, to help raise extra money for the environmental education programs

This year’s event was a success, bringing together locals and off-island visitors to enjoy a spectacular combination of art and nature and raising significant funds to continue valuable environmental education programs for kids who would not otherwise have opportunity to participate. The conservancy is still accepting donations via their website: http://galianoconservancy.ca. You can also use their website to keep updated on their other events throughout the year, and most importantly next year’s Walkalong.