Central Park 2018

Since my January bus-pass had become effective, I thought I would give it a little work-out, and take a run out to Central Park in Burnaby on New Year’s Day; just to make sure it was still there. The last time I was out that way was last summer, and on that occasion, just as I began my afternoon hike, this sensitive little nose of mine had picked up the unmistakable aroma of burning wood. Knowing that there are no campfires allowed in Central Park outside the picnic area (and there only in BBQ’s), I eventually managed to follow the smell of the smoke back to its source.

Chasing the smoke had involved leaving the trail I was on, and crossing a couple others, before plunging back into the denser bush once again. Though you are never too far from a trail in the park, they wind sufficiently, and the park is certainly large enough, that it is possible to lose your bearings for a bit. To put it bluntly, and with a certain amount of embarrassment, I was a little bit lost when I finally came up on what was definitely an abandoned campfire that someone had tried to put out, but not well enough, and it had now, by burning into the thick mossy undergrowth of the rain-forest floor, escaped its boundaries. This, over whatever amount of time had elapsed until I got there, had now produced an area about 20-25 ft. in diameter, where smoke was literally coming up out of the ground, and in some places at least, the ground was too hot for me to walk on in my runners. Ever more dramatic looking were the two small trees about 4-5 ft. apart that were now burning from the ground up to a height of about 2 1/2 to 3ft. up their trunks.

Since I refuse to carry a cell-phone, and my efforts at trying to beat out the flames with a small little rag that I found on the ground were doing no good, I finally had to leave the area (no one was responding to my shouts for assistance), searching around the trails until I found a lady who lent me the use of her cell-phone on which I called the Burnaby Fire Dept. The problem then was that the lady was too busy to help me herself, and the Fire Dept needed someone to meet them at the entrance to the park. I was able to do that, but then I had to find the fire area again! Needless to say, after a few wrong turns, I was successful in getting the firefighters with their portable water sources, axes, and other various equipment into the proper place. They promptly thanked me, and even more promptly sent me away, saying the area was unsafe for someone dressed as I was – really?

They must have done their job, however, because I was able to get some pictures of what still resembles the Central Park I’ve come to know and love, so I thought I’d share a few of them with you here today. And don’t mind the cheeky little squirrel, he was just mad that I forgot to bring my bag of peanuts. Other than all that, I hope your New Year has gotten off to a good start, and that it just keeps on getting better. Everybody please try and stay healthy, happy and safe.

Central Park 2018

Taking Care When Winter Hiking

I went out this morning to buy a coping-saw, and some blades, and since I always have my camera with me when I’m out walking, I was able to snap a few shots of our mountains off in the background attired in their winter clothing. As I was doing so, it reminded me of the particular dangers that can crop up when hiking in the winter, even when a person is on very familiar ground.

If you take a look at the pictures I’ve included at the bottom of this entry, you’ll find Camel Mt., and while I was snapping these shots today, I recollected a time my wife, her step-father and I were on our way up to Camel, and those dangers I mentioned became very apparent – luckily for me, in what turned out to be a rather humorous fashion, as opposed to tragic.

We had already reached the summit of Grouse Mt., and were part of the way along the trail as it leads up Dam Mt. which sits just behind Grouse. The three of us having stopped for a bit of a breather, I had walked over to the edge of the mountain where I was occupied taking pictures of the valley below, when I heard my wife call me over to where she was standing with her step-father, several yards closer to the inside face of the mountain that we would next be ascending. I said something to the effect of, “Yeah, in a minute, I just want to get a couple more shots”, but she immediately replied with, “No, come here now.” Not really irritated or anything (yet), I again said something like, “Yeah! In a second, I just want to get these shots.” Well, the third time she made her request, there was just enough urgency in her voice that though it didn’t panic me (my wife was a very smart lady), it did let me know that I shouldn’t be ignoring her any longer; I suspected now that something was up, and as I turned to walk over to her, I half expected to see a bear about to blind-side me or something of that nature.

When I finished turning around, however, and by the time I walked over to her, I had determined that there was no immediate threat of any kind that I could see, and so now I was a little bit irritated when I asked her, “So what was so important that it couldn’t wait 5 or 10 seconds more?” She said, “Take a good look at where you were standing when I called you.” Turning around once more, I now saw what she and her step-father could see from their vantage point, that I was blind to from where I was standing. Unlike what I thought, which was that I was standing on the edge of the mountain, in actuality, I was a good three feet, or more, off the mountain, standing on a floe of packed ice and snow that was about 24-36 inches thick on average, but a little thicker in some places, and thinner in others. And that was all that was stopping my 180 pounds, plus my pack and gear, from plummeting 4000 feet down into the same valley I had been so busy photographing.

So now you know why I always warn people about the extra dangers you face if you hike the mountains in the winter, especially after a fresh snow. You may not always be on that trail you think you’re on, and on rare occasions, like the one I just mentioned that happened to me, you might not even be on the mountain you think you’re on. So keep that in mind when you find yourself out there in the wilds, and in the meantime, while we’re here in the more civilized environs, I hope everyone is getting ready for a joyous holiday season, however you may choose to celebrate it, and I hope everyone stays happy, healthy, and safe throughout. And since I never know these days when I might make another entry myself, I’ll just wish everyone a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year right now.

Taking Care When Winter Hiking