The Hourglass Cave
by Dean McMillan
It's fall on Vancouver Island and our wet weather is back. That means the mushrooms are out.
One day in mid October I ventured out south of Lake Cowichan in search of the ultimate
patch of chanterelles (cantharellus cibarius). We drove down a badly rutted logging road in my old ranger, minus
shocks, until we came across a spot where I had picked in previous years. The mountain had
been spaced (reforested trees thinned out) and game trails criss crossed everywhere, making
for easy hiking. We stumbled across a patch of chanterelles and followed it until it ran out. It took
us three miles around the mountain, and we guessed at a different path back to the truck. By
the time we got back to the truck it was getting on in the afternoon, so we decided not to pick
any more that day.
Before leaving we decided to scout out some new spots. My thought was to head off the
beaten track. There seems to be more and more pickers every year. It seems that the easily
accessible spots are always picked over these days. I took an almost unused road up into a
promising area. I followed the road till it ended in a washout and got turned back.
On the way back down I checked out a trail and instead of mushrooms came upon a
cabin. My first thought was that it was a squatters' cabin, but upon further investigation found it
to be a cabin used by cavers. There was a wood stove in the corner, a bunk in the loft and a
plaque on the wall that said Hourglass Cave. Upon leaving the cabin I caught site of the cave
mouth. I ran back to the truck, excited by my discovery and got my camera. Discretion being
the better part of valour we decided not to explore inside the cave.
That evening I phoned an old logger friend who knows the area. He said he was
unfamiliar with the Hourglass Cave, but said that there are lots of caves in the area, some that
sink for miles into the earth.