Looking almost directly north, Mt H’Kusam towers over the meadow. Perfectly framed but the giant Sitka Spruce, it is hard not to focus on this incredible mountain view, and watch it change in all the different light and seasons.
And Mt. H’Kusam has many stories. In my brief research this far, I’ve read that H’Kusam is named by the Kwakwaka’wakw (pronounced Kwak-wak-ya-wak) First Nations people meaning “having fat or oil.” This is said to refer to both the Salmon River and the large First Nations village once located on its Southern bank.
And I have not seen it yet, but there is a mysterious cloud that appears encircling the top of the mountain, which the Kwakwaka’wakw People called Hiatsee Saklekum, “Where the breath of the sea lion gathers at the blow-hole”. They believed that there was a tunnel through the mountain through which the sea lions’ breath traveled. I have heard locals calling this strange cloud “Oscar.” I think I will have to investigate further.
Another story this mountain has is one of strength and endurance. Every year on the summer solstice an event is held called the “Kusam Klimb” This is a race of sorts, or just a personal challenge to hike the 23 kms up and down the back side of the mountain. A typical hiker will take 7-9 hours to do the route, but there are those who go for speed and the winners each year finish the Klimb in 2-3 hours.
When the rains come to the valley, our land is at the mercy of the mountain. The rain that falls on H’Kusam soon ends up as our swamp. We watch the snow come and go, and the colours it changes reflecting the sun as it sets. We miss it when the clouds roll in, and aim our binoculars to inspect the distant details. You can see the slides and fallen trees, and we’ve been told that there was a fire on the mountain in the 1950’s or 60’s, but I haven’t found any info on that. What I did find was the story of the great Sayward Fire in 1938 that burned 30,000 hectares of beautiful forest consuming almost 2/3 of Vancouver Island.
There is a Youtube video that tells the story with a song, here
And a great detailed account of the fire here