The Cape Breton Island Hoppers Volkssport Club will be holding a hike to Uisge Ban Falls on Sunday, June 20. The popular walking trail is located along the Baddeck River in Uisge Ban Provincial Park, near Baddeck Forks.
“Uisge Ban” is Gaelic for white water, and according to Rollie Coombs of the Island Hoppers, the aptly named trail is one of the organization’s favourite hikes. “Uisge Ban has a different feel to it…it’s not a wide falls but once you go past the foot bridge just before the waterfall the atmosphere completely changes. It’s like a different world.”
The Island Hoppers’ motto is “walking for fun fitness and friendship,” elements that Coombs said were central to what the group considers important. He explained that the appeal of the CBIVC is its sense of camaraderie. “A lot of people come out [on walking events] because we’re noncompetitive. We want everybody to enjoy the events,” said Coombs.
The Island Hoppers are part of the International Volkssport Federation, which started in Germany after World War II in an effort to get citizens back into physical shape. Various community-based groups began organizing walks between villages in the 1950s. The idea came to Canada later through a group of military personnel who had participated in the Volkssport walks and thought the idea was good for people in Canadian communities. As a “semi retired” member of the Canadian Forces, Coombs assures and prospective participants that the group “doesn’t walk like an army,”as he puts it. “We want people to enjoy walking at their own pace.”
Having recently celebrated their 13th anniversary in Cape Breton, the Island Hoppers also hosted the national annual general meeting of the Canadian Volkssport Federation on the Victoria Day weekend in May. A total of 160 individuals from across Canada participated in the weekends activities, which included walking excursions on a number of trails throughout the CBRM.
The Island Hoppers’ walks are open to all ages, and will include experienced volunteers at the front and back of the walk to make sure participants don’t get lost. “The group does spread out quite a bit because everyone is at their own pace.” A hike leader takes position at the front of the group, and for those who wish to take their time, a “sweeper” walks along behind the group to make sure no one gets lost.
Coombs emphasizes that although the group is very popular with ages 45 and up; younger individuals and families with children are welcome and encouraged to participate as well.
For the upcoming hike on Sunday, registration takes place at 1:30pm, and the hike begins at 2:00pm. The trail itself is rated at a 2C difficulty level, indicating some moderate hill or stair climbing and a moderately difficult terrain with some protruding rocks and tree roots. To reach the registration and starting point from Baddeck, follow the Provincial Park or Island Hoppers’ signs.
For more information on the hike, contact Rollie Coombs at email@example.com. To learn more about the Cape Breton Island Hoppers Volkssport Club, visit capebretonislandhoppers.com.