By: Isabella Urbani, Staff Writer
Stephen Hui, former news editor for The Peak and SFU alumni, launched his latest of three hiking guidebooks, titled Best Hikes and Nature Walks with Kids In and Around Southwestern British Columbia on May 17, 2022. Hui’s first two books, 105 Hikes In and Around Southwestern British Columbia and Destination Hikes: In and Around Southwestern British Columbia, were published in May of 2018 and 2021, respectively.
Each writeup in Hui’s guide includes directions, a map, photos and statistics regarding the distance of a hike such as altitude and history. Hui also tries to include Indigenous place names if they are made available. Inclusivity is one element of hiking he is especially passionate about.
“For too long, hiking in BC has been viewed as a white man’s pastime,” Hui explained. “It still can feel for people of colour that they don’t really belong in the outdoors.
“I’ve heard from people that are just happy that me, as a Chinese person, is the author of a guidebook. It’s cool for them to see because growing up when I dreamed of writing guidebooks, there were no Chinese authors or non-white authors of guidebooks that I knew, and I thought it was impossible for me to be the author of the main guidebook for the area. But, I’ve surprised myself with where I am now,” Hui shared.
When his current publisher reached out to him to write a hiking guide, something he has wanted to do since high school, he jumped on board.
Hui said it was the five semesters he spent working for The Peak in 2002 and 2003 — when he published his first hiking article — that turned him into a writer. “The Peak really did set my career direction,” Hui pointed out. Instead of becoming an environmentalist like he imagined when he graduated from SFU with a geography degree, Hui pursued journalism.
“Naturally hiking being my number one interest as a writer I was always, even at The Peak, sneaking photos into the paper to illustrate environmental articles, and writing about parks issues and the environment,” said Hui.
The muse for his latest book is his son. “I always wanted to write a book about short hikes,” revealed Hui. “I have a son and he just turned 10. I was doing hikes with him and realized how different it is to hike with a child: how fun and delightful it is to see things again with fresh eyes, but also how slow you have to go.”
Hui grew an affinity for the outdoors when his family enrolled him in scouts at an early age. There, he learned camping and hiking skills, which were only strengthened by being in hiking clubs and outdoor classes through elementary and high school.
The two-time BC bestsellers’ latest selection of trails was handpicked for parents with children. The hikes are shorter, easier to manage, and have attractions along the way. “Kids like to have special attractions like hollow trees, old growth giants, suspension bridges, waterfalls, and tidepools,” explained Hui.
However, due to the easier nature of the hikes, Hui’s latest book also doubles as a beginner’s guide for any new coming hikers. “This new book is designed for parents with kids, but it’s a great beginner book for anyone looking to get into hiking because the trails are shorter and easier.”
Hui’s advice to beginners is to start “with easier trails, trails close to the city, and if you’re new, definitely don’t hike alone.”
He reflected on his journey from book to book. “The first book was really hard, the procrastination was so bad. The second one was more like riding a bike, it was also better for me too because I was able to write longer and put in the depth that I wanted,” Hui shared.
What’s made all the difference for Hui is seeing his book as the culmination of multiple articles instead of this grand task to do once, which can make the writing process much more overwhelming.
Hui, who hikes every weekend, believes that there is something for everyone to take out of the spirit of hiking. Whether that be “learning about the world around you” or challenging yourself, “nature has no official language.”