Getting Lost in Mystic Vale
Every Sunday is the same for me.
I sleep in a bit, have breakfast, and get to the library. I spend a few hours studying, then it’s time for the best part of my weekend.
Every single Sunday, rain or shine, I go for a walk through Mystic Vale.
I consider Mystic Vale to be a true hidden gem on campus. While lots of people know it’s there, I have met so many students who have never had the chance to get lost in this beautiful place. It’s easy to find – tucked just behind residence, in the southeast corner of campus. It’s a lovely wooded area, a Douglas Fir ecosystem, and Hobbs creek runs right through it. UVic acquired the property in 1993, and it is home to over 75 different native plant and wildlife species. For me, these details aren’t what matter – it’s all about getting lost in the woods.
As soon as I get into Mystic Vale, it’s like I’ve left the city entirely. It’s quiet – I tend to forgo listening to music or podcasts when I’m there, just so I can hear the birds – and it feels like a magical place. I love being in nature, away from the hustle and bustle of the city (even a smaller city like Victoria), and Mystic Vale is so dense and beautiful that you really feel like you are out in the middle of nowhere.
I don’t always walk the same route – in fact, I try and do a slightly different walk every time, to have a new experience with every visit. Sometimes I head straight for the stairs that take me to the creek, and sometimes I walk the chip trail for a bit first. Usually when I walk, I walk fast and try to get some exercise, but my Mystic Vale walks are more for the tranquil experience than anything else. Sometimes I play a game with myself – how many different sounds can I hear? How many animals do I see? How many textures can I feel beneath my feet? It’s a mindful, meditative experience.
There are so many things that I love about this area. It’s incredibly peaceful, quiet, and always lovely. But my favourite part of walking in Mystic Vale is the dogs. Many community members walk their dogs on the chip trail, and I can always count on one or two puppers coming by to say hello! It’s the best remedy for those of us who go through what I like to call “dog withdrawal”.
Usually when you think of getting lost in the woods, you think horror movie, or extreme rescue situation, but getting lost in Mystic Vale is a privilege. You can always find your way out, of course, but finding a new way through, experiencing nature and life in the middle of the city, and taking the time to appreciate the amazing land that we get to walk on truly feels like freedom.
If you haven’t visited Mystic Vale, now’s a great time of year, since the sun is shining, and the wildlife is active. Go get lost in the woods!