Baden-Powell Trail, 13 May 2008

I had a day off after an intensive run of work, and was determined to get out somewhere and do something non-computery. That seems a little odd, doesn’t it? Take a day off from computers to go do something which you then write about on the computer. Reminds me of that xkcd cartoon…

So I dropped Maria off at work and headed up to Lynn Valley, parking up at the Lynn Headwaters main car park. I had a snack and some coffee while listening to the radio before pulling on my boots and heading out into the rain. The rain wasn’t much bother though, especially once I was under tree cover. Finding the trailhead, I puffed and panted up the never-ending staircase that was the first 100 m or so of the trail. Reaching the top I paused for breath and followed the Baden-Powell trail markers. I wasn’t sure how far I would end up going, but probably not as far as the Grouse Mountain end of the trail – that would be a 20+ km round trip and I don’t think I was in the mood for that much trudging in the rain. I also had no expectations about what I would see or attempt to take photos of, especially in the rain.

Away I went. And I have to say that I enjoyed the peace and quiet, just me and the trees and rocks. I stopped every now and then to look around and take stock of the surroundings. All of this forest is second growth and was essentially clear cut in the early 20th century. Much of it has recovered fairly well, and in places the forest is beginning to mature with a pleasant understory of small hemlocks and huckleberry bushes. But there are still large tracts that are essentially a desert below the tree canopy. Large stumps here and there serve as reminders of how spectacular this forest must have been at one point. (Fortunately there are parts of the Lynn Headwaters region that have retained their old growth trees, but they’re not very accessible.) Then there are large patches of exposed rock, washed clean by torrential rain and meltwater without the trees to stabilize the soil. But by and large it’s still a pleasant walk.

Baden-Powell Trail, 13 May 2008

I crossed the old Mountain Highway, a gravel road which leads up to the Grouse Mountain ski area, and back into the trees. Much of this stretch of the trail is shared with mountain bikes, and I was glad that I was there on a week day. The trail is never very wide, and has quite a few obstacles and (usually wet) steep sections – I can’t imagine biking that at all, but there are plenty that do it. I crossed a couple of small creeks, then a couple of larger ones and encountered a small patch of where a few alders had fallen in the winter storms. The trees had been cleared from the trail with a couple of blocks cut into the shape of small chairs :-) Very cute. And with the intense orange-red colour of the alder wood (especially when dampened by the rain) they looked all the more impressive.

I checked the guide book to see where I was, crossing St George’s trail and before long I reached Mosquito Creek, the largest creek between Lynn Headwaters and the base of Grouse Mountain. I stopped to take a few pictures of the flow and have a snack or two before wondering what to do next. For a moment I considered heading up to the cascades on Mosquito Creek but thought better of that. The rain was now heavier, and I didn’t have the book with me that described the route. Plus I hadn’t mentioned to anyone exactly where I was going and didn’t want to get lost among the maze of trails on the lower flanks of Grouse Mountain.

I followed an old trail alongside the creek (with dire warnings about the safety of the trail) and after about 100 m I reached the site of an old dam on Mosquito Creek. Very cool! Quite a large log dam, now partly demolished with a massive cliff wall behind it. It never ceases to amaze me just how rugged the North Shore mountains really are, when fantastic gorges like this can remain hidden from view. Lynn Canyon is another, and Brothers Creek on Hollyburn has a similar canyon. It’s brilliant. I snapped a couple of photos, knowing full well they wouldn’t turn out as it’s impossible to capture the required sense of depth associated with such a sight. But you have to try these things :-)

Baden-Powell Trail, 13 May 2008

Satisfied with my progress for the day, and conscious of the rain which was now very persistent I headed back, retracing my steps back towards the car. I had encountered maybe two people on the way out, both with dogs (one was a commercial dog walker with half-a-dozen on various leashes), and encountered maybe four on the way back (including two more commercial dog walkers). As I neared the steps down into Lynn Valley the mist became thicker and thicker until I was walking in a light fog. Made for very interesting light and some cool photos. I love it when the mist descends in the forest (usually…). Everything gets quieter, the greens seem more vivid. Very atmospheric.

I reached the top of the steps and was stopped in my tracks by a bird singing away on a nearby branch. Edging down I realized it was a varied thrush. I tried a couple of photos but it was too dark. (I did experiment with the higher ISO settings on the camera and promptly vowed never to do so again!) It flew off after I’d obviously out-stayed my welcome, and so I continued down to the road. I paused briefly to take photos of some yellow violets and skunk cabbage before diving back into the car to dry off and finally eat lunch.

Baden-Powell Trail, 13 May 2008

I was wet and cold, but it had been worth it. A nice little hike.

Distance: about 12 km?
Elevation gain: 250 m
Photos on Flickr

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