A Lake, Another Lake, Lakes

26 June 2021 – “Siempre hay algo,” as a philosophical collectivo driver once told me, high on the Peruvian altiplano: “There’s always something.”

And indeed, just as COVID trends offer us cautious new freedoms, along comes the Heat Dome to imprison us once again. Only (!!) 33C today here in Vancouver, but headed for 39C by Monday, with 45C or more predicted for the Interior. (And that’s before we talk Humidex.) Not the weather for vigorous outdoor activity.

Yesterday’s visit to a cool, shady lakeside trail therefore had extra value: it felt like a final treat before 4-5 days of renewed lock-down.

Rice Lake lies within the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve in North Vancouver, with some 100 km of trails on offer through the forested slopes. We did a short, simple loop around the lake — proof that delight and beauty bear no necessary relationship to length or difficulty of the walk.

A gravel trail through the trees …

with bird song in the trees, ferns & moss all about, and numerous nurse logs on view, complete with their offspring.

We were particularly taken with this pair of adult siblings, their arms thrown companionably over each other’s shoulders.

I was definitely in a BC forest, by a BC lake, but I am imprinted by my decades with the Canadian Shield lakes of Quebec & Ontario.

As we stood at a viewpoint and looked down-lake, I felt all those other eastern lakes right there with me, dancing in and out of the one that was physically before my eyes.

I began talking about the other Rice Lake of my experience: the one that belongs to the Kawartha Lakes and lies south of Peterborough, Ontario, on the Trent-Severn Waterway. It is named for the wild rice that once grew there in abundance, but was drowned out by the rising water levels that followed Waterway construction.

Once home, still deep in lake mode, I browsed for images of that other, eastern Rice Lake.

And found this one:

Yes of course they are different: a mountain backdrop here in North Van, a granite outcropping there in Ontario. But … just look at them!

One specific lake, another specific lake, a cavalcade of memories. And, finally, just … lake.

My lake imprint.

Water & Woodland

3 October 2019 – We’re in Stanley Park, that 400-hectare bulge of West Coast rainforest where False Creek swells into English Bay, Burrard Inlet and beyond that the Strait of Georgia, all of it part of the Salish Sea.

I get dizzy trying to grasp all that, but I don’t have to. We’re firmly on land, in the Park, and we have a more-or-less plan: Seawall for a while, then up onto Merilees Trail where we can overlook the Seawall and Burrard Inlet, then … ummm … then probably forest trails around & back down.

Which is pretty well how it works.

Fresh, breezy fall day, bright sun, sparkling water, then into the forest. It is terrific.

Somewhere past Second Beach, heading towards Fergusons Point, this circle of stones in the water. Not a random act of nature; too deliberately placed for that. Perhaps someone’s tribute to Don Vaughan’s Waiting for Low Tide installation in False Creek?

From mute, stationary stones to a noisy, busy dog. He is splashing furiously through the water just off Third Beach to chase — yet again! — the stick thrown — yet again! — by his patient owners. Another, lazier dog watches from the shore; we watch from our viewpoint high on Merilees Trail.

We stick with the trail, thank you, despite the passing (male) hiker who crisply informs us it is “boring” and we should immediately drop back down to the Seawall. Our choice rewards us, and eventually, with a bit of hacking about, here we are at Prospect Point Lookout.

We can look down-down-down to the water, and we do. We can look up-and-to-the-right to Lions Gate Bridge, and we do. We can also look straight overhead to watch a seaplane arc through the sky.

And we do.

Now we turn inland, away from ocean views to follow first Prospect Trail and then the Bridle Path, curving down through the heart of the forest.

It is quite, quite magic.

Nurse logs everywhere, their decaying old growth feeding voracious new growth in the forest’s endless cycle of regeneration.

They come every which shape. Sometimes a craggy island of stumps, rising from a sea of forest litter all around …

Sometimes a single shoulder-height remnant of trunk, silver-tipped …

Sometimes horizontal instead, smothered in mossy green …

with luminous white mushrooms glowing nearby.

Oh… I don’t know they’re mushrooms. Maybe they’re toadstools? I wasn’t rude enough to tip one over and check its gills (brown-to-black in a mature true mushroom, still white in a mature toadstool).

But maybe it’s just as well we keep our ungloved hands to ourselves. Later on, one online photo of Death Cap mushrooms — now proliferating in Vancouver, reports tell us — looks suspiciously like our guys. Though maybe not: Death Cap seems to have a silky smooth cap; ours are ruffled.

So I don’t know, and I don’t much care, because I think they’re beautiful, and all I want to do is admire them, not eat them. (Still, if you can identify them, please do.)

By now we’re obsessed with nurse logs, playing spot-the-hidden-nurse-log as we walk.

And look, there one is. A huge mound, a long-buried nurse log surely, with its new growth, now mature trees, rising triumphantly above.

There is a whole lot of “rising triumphantly” going on in this forest.

What’s the scale? you ask; how high would a human being rise against that vee?

This high.

Getting pretty far down the Bridle Path by now, soon we’ll hit Lost Lagoon and begin to rejoin urban bustle.

One more soaring tree before we go  …

and we finally emerge from the trails into the noise and parking lots — but also the amenities — where city streets butt up against parkland near Second Beach.

Into a brew pub! And into big bowls of clam chowder.

 

  • 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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