Wonderful BC-1 / Minnekhada Regional Park / Life as we know has changed due to the pandemic. Our habits have changed. Most businesses are closed. People either are not working, or working from home.
Article and photos by Bahar Çınarlı
Life as we know has changed due to the pandemic. Our habits have changed. Most businesses are closed. People either are not working, or working from home. Restaurants and pubs are closed. Spectator sports events and performing arts centres shut down. Crowds are forbidden. If 2 metres social distancing can not be kept, most everything, including visiting friends is taboo. The result is the pandemic has been contained and the curve flattened.
In addition to the fact that the pandemic has been kept under control from the beginning, we are lucky to live in an area that is not overly populated, and has amazing nature. The weather has been fine, with much less rain than usual. Now, everybody is rushing to the parks, beaches, lakes, and mountains. This is encouraged by the authorities, as long as the 2 metres social distancing rule is obeyed. The failure to maintain this distancing risks park closures.
Lying just above the US northern border, Vancouver is situated on the west-coast of Canada, with the Pacific Ocean to its west and mountain ranges and temperate rainforests to the north-east.
The land border between US and Canada as been closed to non-essential travel due to the pandemic for 2 months. Prime minister Trudeau just recently declared that the border will stay closed for at least another month. This adversely affects the businesses that rely on American tourism. Because the spread of the virus continues unabated in many parts of the US, many people especially on the Canadian side, want the border to remain closed until the spread is halted.
Canadians are not strangers to nature sports and hiking trails. As a long-time Canadian, I have done a fair bit of hiking in my time in this great province. As it seems I won’t be leaving Canada this summer, I decided to start hiking again this summer when I can find time away from work. I said to myself, start with an easy trail, as I am not in shape to tackle the Gross Grind like I used to. The Grouse Grind trail is closed in any event, due to the social distancing restrictions. The trail is too narrow and and so becomes too easily crowded.
Massive forests are called “parks” in Canada. I started with the trails in Minnekhada Park.
East of Vancouver, the 2 square km Minnekhada Park is located in Coquitlam. It takes 1 hour to drive from Vancouver downtown to get to the gates of the park. This peaceful nature sanctuary is mostly composed of forest, marsh, and rocky outcrops. There are lovely trails that meander through the forests, marsh, stream, and lake in the park. The forest, mostly composed of fir and cedar trees, is home to 150 species of birds, as well as deer, beavers, ducks, singing bullfrogs, Canada geese, swans, squirrels, bears and cougars.
The Minnekhada farm got its name more than one hundred years ago. “Minnekhada” was derived from the indigenous language and interpreted as “ratting water”. First visitors from Europe, mostly anglo-saxons, arrived here in 1880’s. The historic Minnekhada Lodge was built in 1934 by Lieutenant governor Eric Hamber. It was also host to royalty. King George IV and Queen Elizabeth’s visit in 1939 apparently caused quite a stir in the community. These days Minnekhada Lodge is rented out for special events such as weddings. Normally it is open to public visits 1-4 PM every first Saturday of the month. However, due to the pandemic it is currently closed to the public…
Most popular hikes are the Low and High Knoll trails. It takes approximately 1.2 km, and 2.2 km, respectively, to hike from the lodge entrance to each trail lookout. At 180 metres elevation, hikers rest at the High Knoll and enjoy the view to south composed of forest, meadow, marsh, and the beautiful Pitt River, which meanders through the fields and farmland. On clear days, hikers can see spectacular Mt. Baker in Washington State, US.
I very much enjoyed observing the awakenings of nature in spring time during my hike. Rich sprouting ferns lit by the sun rays beaming through the tall trees turned the forest into a very magical place. And yes, it was a welcome break from long hours spent in the office. In ecstasy, I took many photographs. I will try to share some of the magic with you.
In the park, I mostly admired the impressive vegetation. I also came across with a few animals, including bees wondering between the flowers, ducks swimming in the marsh, and a black bear cub near the lodge. I could hear the birds singing during the entire hike. I could also hear the frogs while walking by the marsh.They all were there but hidden by the deep green foliage making them difficult to see.
I did not try to take a photograph of the bear cub, as I did not have a telephoto lens with me. Approaching would have been dangerous. One should be careful not to approach a bear cub alone. His mother would surely be not far and see a human as a threat to her cub. The general rule experienced hikers follow is to keep one’s distance for the sake of both the bear and the human.
Park rangers tell us if you do accidentally encounter a black bear in the wild, don’t stare, don’t go close, calmly back off, don’t turn your back, don’t run. They say “calmly back away”, but I think people maintaining that state of calm to be the hard part.
Bear encounters have become a popular topic in Canadian pop culture. The big question is always “What to do when one sees a black bear vs a grizzly bear, when does one should play dead vs fight?”. Years ago when I was in visiting the beautiful island of Maui, I noticed a parallel in the way people discussed shark attacks. The big question there was “What to do when one encounters a shark in the sea?”. I found the parallel amusing.
I hope you enjoyed my photographs revealing the magical scenery at Minnekdada, and hope to share my next set of photographs from my next adventure into another beautiful destination.
Bahar Çınarlı / Bizim Anadolu / May 25th, 2020
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