Yesterday was definitely the better day weather-wise, today having a formidable forecast of wind and thunderstorms, but a gap in the showers evident on the radar plot compelled us to get outside again, so we headed to Stanley Park for a quick walk before lunch. Well, so much for that rain-free gap as big, solid raindrops began to strike the car before we’d even crossed the Burrard Bridge. Mixed in were small ice or snow pellets and we began to wonder if we should just turn around and return to the comfort of home. We drove on and around Stanley Park, hoping the rain was just a passing shower (albeit a vigorous one) and after a leisurely drive we pulled into a space along the side of Lost Lagoon to find that the rain had, indeed, mostly eased off.
Not wanting to be stuck out in the cold rain feeling like we had to make the most of two hours’ parking, we paid for just an hour and set off on a yet-to-be-determined meander in the park. Walking east into the wind seemed like a good way to start, to get it over with, and we followed the path through the soggy Ceperley Meadow and along the edge of Lost Lagoon itself. Mallards, wood ducks, and Canada geese were the most obvious birds, though we heard kinglets high above us in the conifers. Further on we saw a pair of hooded mergansers and a heron fishing in the reeds right next to the path. We veered over to the other side of the trail and slowed down so as not to spook it, just as its head darted into the water, emerging with a tiny inch-long fish in its beak.
We turned into the forest before the path led us under the Causeway and walked north along Tatlow in a deliciously green tunnel, passing tall cedars, hemlocks, and Douglas firs. We crossed Bridle and encountered the biggest trees of the day, a pair of huge western redcedars fused near the base into a giant structure that rivalled the redwoods and sequoias of California. It’s always so hard to capture the scale of these trees but I found myself inspired by some of the photographers I follow on YouTube to try something a little different, and I think I have something I quite like with the panoramic view of the base in the photo below.
Turning onto Lovers Walk, we stopped (as we usually do) at the “Listen” environmental artwork to check out how it’s faring after a decade, where I also found a tiny perfect parasol of a mushroom to photograph. The trails were peaceful and quiet, and we met a few other groups at various, usually quite long, intervals. The greenery was lush and welcoming and our eyes were drinking it all in. We turned off Lovers onto Squirrel and then onto Lake which led us back to Bridle. The noise of the traffic on the Causeway was distracting but it was at least partly masked by the crunch of the gravel beneath our feet.
We caught a clear base-to-crown view of a tall cedar at the intersection of Bridle and Lees with an amazing twist in its trunk. I was surprised I hadn’t noticed it before, as cedars normally grow up quite straight. I’m more used to seeing twists in trees at higher elevations, and even then usually only on the dead snags.
Bridle angled us away from the road and led us along a crunchy gravel path directly towards Second Beach. The rain had returned but it wasn’t bothering us. What bothered me more was the sound of the gravel; having left the road behind I wanted quiet but that was impossible walking on the gravel. Instead I directed my attention to our surroundings, noticing the first tiny yellow spear of some skunk cabbage just breaking the surface of a pool of water; a large cedar with four or five new leaders reaching skywards off short, right-angle limbs; a hemlock (probably) snapped off at a height of about 20 feet, its top lying perpendicular to the upright trunk, wedged between two trees bearing the scars of their grip; a Douglas squirrel scampered across the trail with a fir cone in its teeth, a blur of movement that disappeared behind a tree.
All these little things helped me retain that feeling of being grounded in the forest, this little pocket of escape from the city. I was soon stopped again, this time by the sight of a tiny hemlock sapling growing out of the top of a sawn trunk, perhaps 4 or 5 metres high, and leaning over towards the trail, possibly a casualty of the storm of 2006 which felled so many trees in this part of the park. A short splinter poked up off the lower edge, and the tiny, gracefully-curved hemlock emerged from the top. I liked the old and the new side by side, indeed one giving life to the other, and I think it made for a really nice image.
A few minutes further and we emerged from the trees, crossed the road, and walked over to the seawall. A couple with their toddler stood by the water’s edge, the youngster’s sand toys scattered about behind them as they watched the tiny waves lap at the shore. We walked around the outdoor pool, admiring the bottle-green water, before retracing our steps along the path through Ceperly Meadow. Movement caught my eye and I noticed another heron perched at the top of a rotten snag, hunkered down and surveying its surroundings. I sized up a few photos and I think they, too, turned out quite well. My guess is that it’s a young heron, perhaps a yearling, as its feather were mostly brown, unlike the blue-grey of the mature birds.
At that, we were only a few metres from the car, 57 minutes after paying for our hour’s parking. With our senses topped up again, we got in and drove home.