It was a sunny, warm Saturday morning and I’d gotten as far away from the city as I could manage. The end of the Vancouver public bus line is the small village of Lion’s Bay and I’d planned on having a quiet lunch in a cafe or reading a book near the water before heading back home.
When I checked the map of Lion’s Bay, I noticed a small trailhead at the end of a public road; it seemed to wind its way up the mountain, but was accessible enough by foot, so I started walking it’s way. I passed by demure houses with incredible views, rocky front gardens littered with Arbutus trees and made a mental compass of which islands I could see off in the distance.
About 15 minutes into the trail, the path started to fork and I noticed I’d been following some capital letter ‘E’ trail markers that were hand-beaded and strung up in the trees. I hadn’t thought much of them until a sign pointing me towards ‘Erin’s Trail’ gave them their namesake, and I pieced together that Erin might be the one who’d put pink flowers and painted rocks in the forest’s underbrush.
She’d clearly invested years of work into the project and it was endearing to know the locals might have accepted it and pitched in; no doubt a really loved and respected kid.
And then I bent down to read a painted pebble.
On Dec 22nd, 2014, seven-year old Erin Moore was out on a community hike in the mountains with her mother and brother. When the group stopped to take photos of the creek, a sudden rock slide overtook the group and several boulders trapped Erin. Local volunteer rescue crews hiked an hour to the location, but injuries were too dire. You can read more about the situation here if you choose to: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/rock-slide-near-lions-bay-kills-erin-moore-7-on-hike-1.2881775
I didn’t choose to find out what had happened before I really absorbed Erin’s Enchanted Forest; all I cared to know is that whatever this little girl did, or fought, or was fighting must have been of such significance that an entire community banded together to literally alter the face of a mountain. That in and of itself was compelling enough.
I kept following Erin’s Enchanted Forest path through mossy underpasses and over bubbling creeks, eventually finding a large figure-8 clearing and a string of Tibetan prayer flags.
Blue symbolizes sky and space; White symbolizes the air and wind; Red for Fire; Green for Water, and Yellow for Earth. The balance of all five elements bring peace, health and harmony to an area, while a sign nearby asks the visitor to take a few moments, regardless of beliefs, to think of Erin and her family.
I thought deeply about how much work was poured into where I was standing; it was painfully obvious that the community at large so loved and cared for what had happened to this young family that they gathered together to create a tribute for the ages. I’ve since learned that a man named John Dudley planned and mapped the area, and with the help of a local walking group, built Erin’s Enchanted Forest not long after the tragedy. Just a year since passed, John describes the area:
As the seasons have passed more and more little figures have appeared and they still continue to do so. It is wonderful to think of all the children and parents whose lives were touched by Erin who have hiked up the mountain to this special place to pay tribute to a very special girl.
If you go there on your own and sit on one of the cedar rounds that are dotted around you, will start to get the feeling that there is an energy coming from somewhere that is impossible to describe. One morning in October I was there on my own hanging up one of the banners, when suddenly over a hundred little Siskins landed on the branches of the surrounding bushes and trees. They seemed to accept me and some were so close I could have reached out and touched them. They were clicking and chirping there for about 10 minutes before they rose in a mass and flew off into the forest.
I left a note for Erin, for what’s it’s worth. I still didn’t know what had happened, but I had to talk to her or someone who knew her. I’d lounged in her sunbeams, splashed my face in her creek and walked between her fallen trees; I had to make sure it was okay.
What Erin helped build in her short life, the community that remembers her and the family who continues to exude her love was something beyond what I ever expected to find at the end of a bus line.
And I can’t thank her enough for not letting me waste my Saturday sitting in a cafe. ️🌿✌️
If you’d like to know more about Erin’s story, her mother and father keep a journal at http://erinkatemoore.weebly.com/