Kristina De Araujo laughs to herself as she reminisces about the inaugural years of the Mount Hays Quickclimb, recalling racers of all ages and abilities.
“Watching a woman who was two weeks away from her due date walk towards the start line… I was impressed!” De Araujo says.
“She did the seven-kilometre hike to the top of Mount Hays, and she did it in admirable time.”
In the years following the race’s inception in 2008, numbers of participants and volunteers remained high.
“We had so many volunteers for the first Mount Hays Quickclimb that I actually sent some home,” says De Araujo. “One volunteer brought her camping chair, set up shop under one of the tents, and knit all day -– she hung around just in case I needed her.”
Founding a complex race event to raise funds for a connector trail to the bottom of Mount Hays was challenging. “During the first Mount Hays Quickclimb, I woke up at 5:30 a.m. and it was pouring, pouring buckets! I actually cried,” admits De Araujo.
“I was thinking no one will show up. But approximately 108 participants arrived in the torrential downpour and we raised approximately $15,000 for trail restoration.”
Construction of the Omineca Connector Trail became possible because of funds raised and volunteers recruited through Quickclimb. Prince Rupert’s renowned weather conditions didn’t help. For De Araujo, the memories are vivid.
“Winching trees along our trail — actually standing in muck knee-deep, 10 people lined up on either side of the fallen tree and using pulleys, log rollers, our muscle, whatever it took to move that tree — a tree! — into place.”
One of the purposes of the Mount Hays Quickclimb event is to connect Prince Rupert’s history with the natural splendour surrounding the city. A local company, Quickload Logistics, established the annual timed ascent and community celebration in 2008 with the intention to raise funds for trail restoration.
Mount Hays was chosen as the event’s site in order to increase awareness about Prince Rupert’s founder, Charles Melville Hays, and the recreation opportunities that exist in the rainforest that surrounds the city.
“I think when you live here for so long, the background becomes just that, the background. Let’s bring it into the foreground,” says De Araujo.
She credits the success of the Quickclimb — and its upcoming revival — to the generous nature of local individuals, businesses, and organizations that support community events.
Quickload Logistics, in partnership with McElhanney Consulting Services, is currently working to bring the Mount Hays Quickclimb back for 2015.
This year’s event is scheduled for August 16th. On that morning, come rain or shine, Kristina and her team members will be at the base of Mount Hays for another all-inclusive hike to the top of the mountain.
More information about how to keep Prince Rupert’s backcountry community thriving is available at www.quickclimb.ca or facebook.com/quickclimb.