The tougher the uphill climb, the bigger the reward for Natalie Kingwell.
The Saanich resident is a regular long-distance runner and avid hiker on some of Greater Victoria’s more rugged and scenic landscapes, such as Mount Finlayson in Goldstream Provincial Park.
“If I’m going on a hike I want it to be hard and challenging,” she says of tackling the 419-metre summit.
“When I get to the top I want it to be ‘yes.’”
That says something coming from someone who is afraid of heights and never regularly jogged until two years ago.
She had already been running shorter distances when friends took her up Mount Finlayson.
“It’s amazing,” Kingwell says of the view. “It’s so beautiful. You see all of Victoria and the ocean and the mountains.”
She is now a regular fixture there, and chooses the steeper trails to get to one of the highest peaks in Greater Victoria, which offers unobstructed views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Olympic mountain range.
Other breathtaking views in the Capital Region can be admired from lookouts atop Mount Douglas and Mount Tolmie in Saanich and from sea level at Colwood’s Esquimalt Lagoon.
Gowlland Tod Provincial Park offers magnificent views of Finlayson Arm and the Saanich Inlet.
Breathtaking scenery can also be soaked up from the Malahat Drive observation points, Clover Point in Victoria, Witty’s Lagoon regional park in Metchosin and Little Saanich Mountain, home to the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory.
Esquimalt also boasts Highrock Park, the township’s highest point of land.
A year ago Kingwell joined a running group that regularly tackles steeper inclines in Greater Victoria to improve strength and stamina.
“Victoria is the perfect place for people (who like to) exercise outside,” she says. “The weather here is great, even when it’s raining. It’s never cold enough to bother anybody.”
The Galloping Goose regional trail has served her as an important gateway to scenic beauty, as has the Westsong Walkway, stretching along the waterfront between Victoria and Esquimalt.
Elk and Beaver lakes also provide Kingwell with a lovely view as she runs along the 10-kilometre looped path.
“I like running where it looks pretty,” she says.
“You forget this is where we live. It’s so beautiful.”
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