Full Length

14 April 2021 – Not that there’s much length involved! Only 6 km or so, & mostly level. It’s just that, every previous visit to the Shoreline Trail that cups the end of Burrard Inlet here in Port Moody, I’ve always doubled back to my starting point from somewhere mid-trail.

This time, I’ll start yet again in Rocky Point Park, but end up over there in Old Orchard Park.

Like this.

The one-way system is a COVID requirement, one that people are observing very well. So even though quite a few are out walking, this bright & gusty day, I feel safe — almost everyone stays masked, and everybody gives everybody else lots of room.

First glimpses of the distinctive mudflats, as I set off from Rocky Point Park.

Well… If people insist on disobeying one of the signs, I’m glad it’s this one.

Lots to delight me, along the way. Tufts of moss, still bright green in a dimpled tree trunk …

tender new ferns, stretching toward the sun ..

skunk cabbage luminescent in the many bogs…

and nurse logs everywhere. This one must be a particularly proud mother, with two grown children soaring high.

Boardwalks …

old vines twisted into trail archways …

and benches, some of them close to the water …

and others tucked back into the woods.

There’s an unidentified metal remnant of the logging / sawmill past …

and a planter that pays tribute to that past. Artist Gillian McMillan shaped the container to echo the old bee-hive burners at the sawmills, and sculpted the names of eight lumber company families around the base.

Close to the Old Orchard end, I watch some paddlers bring their inflatable boat ashore and start to pack up. Smart move! Look at those white caps — the wind gusts are fierce.

No problem for me: my hat has a chin-strap, and the bus stop — up the hill, across the RR tracks, by the road — is a wind-proof shelter, complete with bench.

So I plonk down on the bench, watch some crows bully each other in the sky while forsythia & cherry blossoms duel for bragging rights in gardens below, and peacefully wait for the No. 181.

Which, in a bit, comes trundling along, right on schedule.

Meditation in a Bog

23 July 2018 – With thanks to Sally, who provided this photo, with this title, which shows Frances (R) and me disappearing around a bend in the boardwalk, among towering trees.

We are indeed in a bog. Burns Bog.

Located on the delta of the Fraser River, and originally some 10,000 hectares or so in size, it is now reduced to about 3,000-3,500 hectares but is still the largest raised peat bog on the west coast of the Americas. The Joho Maps website has a diagram that situates it nicely — and provides a lot of other information as well in its excellent guide to the Bog.

Though, inevitably, now much disturbed by mankind, Burns Bog  is a globally unique ecosystem, a major regulator of regional climate, a stopover for more than 400 species of migratory birds, and is still home to a wide variety of plants and wildlife.

And trains.

Freight trains run along one edge, which is also the side that, in the Delta Nature Reserve, affords the only public access. As we descend into the Bog proper, we hear and then see a train train start rumbling by.

It takes a while, freight trains being the length they are.

Clatter-clatter, rumble-rumble, thump-thump, squeak-squeak…

Then all those other sounds of train-in-progress give way to the squeal that signals either (A) a 4-year-old throwing a tantrum, or (B) a very long freight train grinding to a halt.

There is no 4-year-old in sight.

The freight train stops. Blocking our cross-over access to the Bog and its trails.

Mature, philosophic adults that we are, we stand about in some handy shade and admire the boxcar artwork.

And then, squeal-rumble-rumble, the train shakes itself into action again and rolls on its way.

We take the now-available access path, and hop over the tracks.

I promise you, Sally (L) and Frances are athletic and nimble of foot. I consider them my personal trainers (along with much else), and I am grateful for the on-going stimulation and physical challenge.

My camera just happened to catch them … ummm … like this. Sort of a Lindy Hop, as performed by the Marx Brothers?

Over the tracks, and now across a stream. “It’s called the River of Dreams,” says Frances, who is a veteran of many Bog walks over the years and effectively our tour guide today. The water is so astoundingly clear that, in a photo, it is transparent to the camera. All you can see is the thin line of reflected sunlight …

but water does fill the riverbed, bank to bank.

Moments later, I think we are stretching our greedy fingers toward wild raspberries, but Sally knows better. “Thimbleberries,” she says, and she’s right. (Rubus parviflorus, if you want to get all official about it.)

Soon after, Labrador Tea blossoms (Ledum groenlandicum — curiously attributed to Greenland in the Latin). So delicate, and so sturdy! So tall, also — the shrubs tower over our heads.

At one point there is a choice of loops. We opt for the one promising us a sunken tractor and Skunk Cabbage Meadow. I think of my dear Ontario-based friend DJ, who has a thing for skunk cabbages, and can’t wait to see a whole meadow of them, alive-alive-o.

Can’t miss ’em, once you’re among ’em.

Wowzers.

I send DJ this photo and, thanks to her reply, I now know one more difference between The East and The West.

Aha!  This, my dear Penny, is indeed skunk cabbage, but the western one (Lysichiton americanus) with a big yellow flower, followed by HUGE leaves, as your photos show!  The eastern one is Symplocarpus foetidus — a smaller, shyer version with purplish flowers and smaller leaves.  They’re both in the arum family and both smell skunky in bloom to attract flies and beetle pollinators, hence sharing the common name.  Thank you!!

On past the half-buried tractor, left over from days when peat was being harvested and equipment often met with misadventure.

Bog beside our feet, towering trees overhead.

And, always, boardwalk beneath our feet. Kilometres of it — installed, watched over, patched and replaced as needed by volunteers with the Burns Bog Conservation Society.

Sometimes the Boardwalk Gremlins wisely leave a gap. No need to argue with tree roots.

We head back out …

climbing past homes on the bogside slope and somebody’s welter of birdhouses as we go.

  • WALKING… & SEEING

    "Traveller, there is no path. Paths are made by walking" -- Antonio Machado (1875-1939)

    "The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes" -- Marcel Proust (1871-1922)

    "A city is a language, a repository of possibilities, and walking is the act of speaking that language, of selecting from those possibilities" -- Rebecca Solnit, "Wanderlust: A History of Walking"

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