December 6, 2015: Horseshoe Bay to the USA year-end walk

Route map

Waterfront Station to Lonsdale Quay

Since we made it to the USA border at the beginning of November, this wasn’t part of the linked series of walks … just a year-end walk and post-walk gathering — a variation on the first segment of the Burrard Loop Walk that started this whole exercise (two years ago!).

Seventeen people gathered at Waterfront Station in downtown Vancouver and walked along the Coal Harbour seawall, through Stanley Park, over the Lions Gate Bridge and then east on the Spirit Trail in North Vancouver to Lonsdale Quay. We started at 12:30 so that we could end a little later and have an early dinner. As usual the pace was relaxed, with some small groups walking faster and others slower. We seem to have always had an unspoken agreement that the faster walkers would wait periodically and everyone would gather and recombine so that in the end you have been able to talk to everyone.

After crossing over the Lions Gate Bridge, we detoured to Faubourg, a French café/bakery at Park Royal to meet Jean and have a coffee break (an unusual occurrence that greatly confused some members). The group split between those who wanted to sit inside and warm up and the hardy ones who preferred to sit outside. It took a while for everyone to get served but we had some time to spare.

Then we resumed walking and started on the Spirit Trail section.

The rain held off for most of the first half of the walk but we had rain in the second half. We stopped at Martin Marine on Welsh Street and Liz bought a new yellow rain hat (with a steep discount courtesy of the charming sales associates).

As the time approached 4:30, we arrived at the Tap & Barrel (Shipyards location, at the foot of Lonsdale Avenue) where we had a reservation for dinner. A couple of extra people joined us here. A large group was being served at the same time and there was a temporary shortage of wine glasses, but one of our number, survival skills honed by months of these walks, had no problem drinking from the carafe.

In 2015, we had

  • Seven people who did every walk
  • 20 people for the November walk
  • 32 people who walked at least once

Coming in 2016 — Walk the Fraser: Up the Fraser River to Fort Langley.

November 1, 2015: Semiahmoo to the Peace Arch

route map

We made it!

This year’s monthly hikes started in the rain and ended in the rain.

Twenty intrepid souls (our largest single group ever) assembled at Elgin Hall for the final leg of the season.  Rain was promised for the day but held off long enough for the group to gather for the traditional starting photo.  It was dry for the first few minutes until we arrived at the beginning of the Semiahmoo Trail and then got increasingly wet as the day progressed.

Our route took us south through an attractive but confusing network of trails and then down a ravine. Once out of the ravine, we reached the north end of White Rock and then walked along the waterfront, finally cutting inland to reach Peace Arch Park.  The last few kilometres featured driving wind and heavy rain that tested the waterproofness of everyone’s gear. Fittingly, the downpour let up as we reached the Peace Arch. Shortly after the triumphal (and soggy) photo at our destination, the rain actually stopped.

Most of us convened at the Townhall Pub where we more or less dried out over a round of drinks and some food.  Some of the others opted for a quick trip home and a sensible soak in a warm tub.

Now: where next?

October 5, 2015: Mud Bay and Serpentine Fen

Route map
Route map

Sixteen hikers assembled at Delta Heritage Airport, where we ended last month. There was a wait while some people drove to the end point to leave cars and were ferried back. There are two kinds of people in the world: those who form pop-up transportation sub-committees and come up with complicated plans to deal with these arrangements, and those who just go where they are told. Let us call them the Herders and the Sheep. It is all a mystery how it works. (I am a Sheep.)

Almost immediately we were back on the dike. It was a beautiful, warm fall day with the full complement of blue sky, glittering sea, Mount Baker visible off in the distance, and hundreds of ducks having some kind of get-together on the water. We saw eagles, herons, and other feathered creatures.

The book warns about a couple of potential difficulties: one is access to the dikes in and around Mud Bay Park, and the other is passing under Highway 99 at the Serpentine River.

As a Sheep, I am not entirely sure what happened at Mud Bay Park. We looked at a map, milled about a bit considering our options, and then headed down a slippery, grassy bank with brambles (ouch) and then across train tracks and back on to a trail.

We had already run into a locked gate that caused some retracing of steps, and when we came to our second one on a road that had No Trespassing signs it was staffed by a security man in an official vest. Perhaps overwhelmed by our numbers and/or our appearance of solid citizenry, he let us through as long as we didn’t plan on coming back that way. We assured him that wouldn’t be an issue (fingers crossed behind our backs, just in case).

We followed the path next to the Serpentine River. Then we came to potential difficulty Number 2: the only ways to cross Highway 99 were over it (almost certainly a suicide mission) or under it (and the water seemed rather high).

We sat around contemplating the alternatives for a while. There was also a crawl space under the bridge filled with rocks and rubble. Our volunteer spelunker Fred attempted the crawl and Alan tried the water route. Alan reported that we would be likely to get wet feet, while Fred reported that he was confident we could do it. So we all crawled under the bridge, with Coach Fred talking us through it. It was a bonding experience.

Bruce walked alongside the traffic to the other river bank and found it easier to get through under the bridge on that side but we refused to let that take away from our sense of accomplishment.

After that, the rest of the walk was a piece of cake, although meandering: the Serpentine Fen proved pretty much as winding as the name implied. We arrived at the car park at the Elgin Hall at Crescent Road and King George Boulevard and then drove to the Townhall pub on 148th Street and King George Boulevard. It was the kind of pub that had a video game called Big Buck Hunter. Pacifist hiking types were seen playing it, but refused to spend more than a total of $2 so failed to bag anything significant.

September 6, 2015: Tsawwassen to Boundary Bay


There were eighteen Loopers for this stage.  The transportation logistics were a bit more challenging this time as we anticipated (incorrectly as it turned out) that parking near the ferry terminal would be a challenge.  Many of the participants were dropped at the starting point, where they had to amuse themselves for nearly an hour while the cars drove to the end point, picking up the remaining drivers and returning in just two vehicles to the start.

In spite of all of this we headed out just after the appointed starting time at about 10:45am.  We headed East across the North end of Tsawwassen until we reached Boundary Bay.  After a brief trek to the north we stopped for lunch at the “John Deere Cut-Out,”  a convenient and very well equipped bench along the dyke.  As well as seating for most of the group the bench included a lost-and-found box, a drinking dish for dogs (complete with running water), a towel, and a guest book.

After lunch we proceeded along the north side of the bay, passing a strange hydro-electric installation.  Subsequent on-line research revealed that it is a “land electrode,” presumably a grounding device, at one end of a transmission line from Delta to Vancouver Island—fascinating what one can learn on these outings.  Further along we passed by Boundary Bay Airport, where a number of small planes were practicing takeoffs and landings, circling above us.

The walk ended at the Delta Heritage Air Park where we had left most of the cars.  From there we drove back to Tsawwassen for a well-earned beer at the Rose and Crown Pub (save for a small breakaway group that went for coffee instead).

It was a beautiful day for a walk, sunny but not too warm, and the total distance was almost exactly 16 km.

(Photos by Jon, Angela, Julie, Ralph, Liz, and Michael.)

August 23, 2015: Ladner to Tsawwassen redux

A small but select group of three walkers did the Ladner to Tsawwassen section on Sunday, August 23rd, while a second band were doing the UBC to Marpole leg. We started at the non-standard time of 10:00 am to accommodate commitments later in the day, leaving the car at River Road and Admiral Blvd. Probably one of the least appealing legs in this series of walks (mostly flat terrain, several sections on pavement, not much shade) — although it was still interesting to explore unfamiliar parts of the Lower Mainland. At the end of the walk we were whisked in comfort back to the start by a family member of one of the walkers, a long-time resident of Ladner. A couple of walkers explored the weekly Ladner Village Market before joining the others for post-walk refreshments at Speed’s Neighbourhood Pub.

According to MapMyWalk we walked 16.3KM in just over 4 hours; full stats here.

August 23, 2015: UBC to Marpole Redux


6 walkers set out on the UBC to Marpole leg (3 for the first time, 3 for the second).  Amazingly there were no marathons or bike races to confuse things at the starting point! We started from Westbrook Village, where we had ended the last leg, and proceeded into Pacific Spirit Park.  From there we followed the prescribed route, with a brief diversion through Fraser River Park.

After ending at the Marpole cairn we retired to the Milltown Pub for post-hike drinks and munchies.  The total length of the outing was just over 14km, completed in slightly over 3 hours.

August 2, 1015: Ladner to Tsawwassen


This was hike #8. It wasn’t feasible to walk through the Massey Tunnel, so 12 of us started at the intersection of Admiral Boulevard and River Road in Ladner. We walked on River Road, past a marina. Further along, there is a marine walkway, bordered with some remnants of Expo 86. Then we continued along the dike to Wellington Point Park, where we had a brief stop. We continued past Westham Island and saw Reifel Bird Sanctuary from across the water.

Our lunch stop was at Brunswick Point. After this, the path turned south-east.

This was a fairly straightforward walk along the river: dikes, marshes, fields. The weather was hot and sunny. The distance was 15 km according to Charles C, but we had a variety of readings from the various devices worn by members of the group. The achillea (thanks, Ralph) was in bloom. Ripe blackberries were everywhere so most of us stopped periodically to enjoy them, warm from the sun.

Eventually, we safely crossed a railway line to Roberts Bank and briefly basked in the shade of the overpass. After this, we were in the Tsawwassen Reserve and in the final long, hot stretch to Highway 17. Our bus stop was near the start of the causeway to the Tsawwassen ferry terminal.

Post-hike thirst-quenching took place at Speed’s Pub, back near the marina in Ladner.

July 26, 2015: Kitsilano to UBC redux #2


This morning 6 of us set out to do hike #4 (4 for the first time and 2 for the second).  I’m not sure if this is the first instance of a 3rd round of a hike.  Ironically, our initial plan to park cars and end the hike at the Marine Drive lookout was thwarted by a race (reminiscent of hike #5).  A bicycle race had half of Marine Drive and access to the lookout closed off.  The upside is that we parked adjacent to Biercraft in Westbrook Village.  Dropping cars there we drove to the starting point at the foot of Trafalgar Street.

It was raining fairly steadily as we set out.  Because the tide was out we were able to walk along the shoreline below Point Grey Road.  By the time we got to Jericho Park the rain was letting up and as we walked along Spanish Banks the skies cleared and the sun came out.  We ascended via the “official” route and walked across campus, stopping for a brief look inside the new student union building, and walking past the new alumni centre.

We then descended the many steps to Wreck Beach, which due to the morning rain and cool weather was almost completely deserted.  Proceeding along the shoreline and up trail #7 we backtracked up the Old Marine Drive and crossed the playing fields at the south end of the campus to arrive at Westbrook Village, where we stopped at Biercraft for post-hike beer and munchies.

July 12, 2015: Steveston to Massey Tunnel redux

We were six on this past Sunday’s walk from Gary Point to the blackberry patches along Rice Mill Road; 5 humans plus one dog: Belle—who either walked twice as far as any of the humans (same distance x twice as many legs) or half as far (same distance ÷ twice as many legs): the debate raged for hours. Three of the humans were new to the HB2USA enterprise: the recruiting drive continues, and in fact this time went as far afield as Ontario…

Weather was variable: overcast to start; some sprinkles about an hour into the walk (which quickly passed); warm and sunny by the end. For some mysterious reason we walked about 1 km further than the first group (12 km) and took 45 minutes longer: clearly that additional km was quite arduous.

Highlights included: the displays at the Britannia Shipyards National Historic Site; a brief peek inside the tearoom at London Farms; the blackberries; coffee and treats at a sidewalk table just outside Village Books and Coffee (Indie bookstore + 49th Parallel coffee: what’s not to like?)

July 5, 2015: Steveston to Massey Tunnel


There were 15 on today’s walk.  We assembled at the end point, just above the north entrance to the Massey Tunnel, left several cars there and proceeded to the starting point at Gary Point Park in Steveston.  The day started out cloudy and hazy, the latter from smoke from forest fires, but cleared as the day progressed.  The upside was that it was fairly cool for the start of the walk.   It warmed up later but there was always a nice breeze along the river.

Our route took us along the Steveston waterfront, through the Britannia Shipyards, past London Farm, and later past Finn Slough, an interesting little village at the foot of #4 road.  At the conclusion of the walk we retrieved the cars we had left earlier and returned to the Buck & Ear in Steveston for post-walk drinks and food.