Where did it all start?
Actually, it’s amazing that the trail even exists at all. In a way it’s existence is a bit of an accident. You see, Bill’s trail is aptly named after local Sayward resident, Bill West-Sells.
Back in 1989, Bill decided that living in Port Alberni while working in Canfor’s Nimpkish Camp was not very practical. A better location would be Sayward. Bill sourced out a rustic — but somewhat run-down — mountainside house near the base of Mt. H’Kusam. Being the handy guy that he was, he immediately saw the house’s potential. To this day Bill feels that God’s hand must have been in on his decision to buy the place. Bill’s Irish setter “Ribs” had something to do with it as well because while viewing the house, he jumped out of Bill’s pickup, took one look at the place with it’s knee high grass and five derelict vehicles, and barked his approval!
True, it needed a little work, but Bill had a vision for the place. One glaring obstacle stood out though: the water supply was part way up Springer Peak, with no easy means of access. Bill solved that by building a trail to the supply source to use for maintenance purposes. Once that short trail was done, Bill thought, “Why stop there?”
Yes, why stop there? Once the trail was cut for the waterline, Bill continued to carve a trail on up through the forest towards the H’Kusam peak. By 1992, Bill had cut a trail up to the 2,000 foot mark. There are those who might call it an obsession. “Why are you doing this?” they might ask. Nobody’s paying Bill to do it. In fact, he’s financed the whole thing out of his own pocket — a true labour of love.
Back in 2003, two hikers coming down from the top bumped into Bill and his dog Chia. They end up at Bill’s house and heard Bill’s vision for an endurance event using his route. Before long, the Kusam Klimb event was born.
So after 20 years of work, is Bill all done? Hardly. Bill is now adding in a few benches at the lookouts. The trail is also officially recognized by the Forest Service for recreational use.
A little off-trail news…
Bill has been awarded a new commemorative medal created to mark the 2012 celebration of the 60th anniversary of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth 11’s accession to the Throne as Queen of Canada – it serves to honour significant contributions and achievements by Canadians.