Building Boardwalks on Balmy Black Mt. (Sept. 25)
Mark Grist (BC Parks Ranger and a Knee Knacker runner) had offered me the choice of either Saturday or Sunday for the Black Mt. Trail Day. I picked Sunday. If you recall, it was distinctly summer-like on Saturday with the sun shining and the humidity harking back to an August heat wave. Sunday was the polar opposite. The word hindsight comes distinctly to mind.
Downtown Vancouver, Point Grey, Dunbar, UBC. They were all enjoying the morning sun, but there are no mountains in those places to catch storms. That’s what I thought as I drove into the clouds up Cypress Road. Getting out of the car to meet the Rob, the other BC Parks ranger, I was slammed by the wind and rain. One of my friends has a phrase for these working conditions, “Looks like we’re in for it.” It seemed apt. In spite of the approaching storm, everyone showed up (!!!) and we hustled off into the Cypress Lodge for a briefing before getting a short ride to the trailhead.
Once we shouldered our gear and equipment, the rain came down in earnest. (Of course it would.) The winds weren’t too bad but that would change later. We reached the worksite in about 20 minutes, and then Mark and Rob split the group in two so each team could tackle their own section of the project. It was Team Mark versus Team Better Than The Other Guys in the race to see who could build boardwalks with the fewest doglegs.
It didn’t take long for us to give up all hope of keeping any body part dry. Or avoid the mud. Or get our feet sucked into the bog. It also didn’t take long for us to settle into a rhythm of building the boardwalks: lay out out the planks, align them, dig out the support beds, level the tread, drill nail holes, hammer nails, rinse and repeat. This we did for the next few hours while the winds picked up strength and the rain came down in slanted sheets. But while the wind roared through the trees, nothing broke off and went flying. As a bonus, the bugs stayed away.
By the day’s end, all the hard work paid off. There is now 65m of new boardwalks just west of the Black Mt. summit, so you can now hike/run there without worrying about disappearing into a mud hole. And the environment is protected from any further damage by people stomping through the bog. Back at the lodge, the North Shore Wetland Partners had treats waiting for us – chocolate cake and hot coffee have never tasted so good!
Many thanks to all the participants:
- BC Parks, for organizing the event and for flying in the materials (thank goodness!).
- North Shore Wetland Partners, which applied for grants to purchase all the materials.
- Knee Knacker, for the runners who participated, they’ll save 2 minutes off their times. Could be new course records next year!
- My hiking group, for giving back. And gaining lots of Hiking Karma points.
I’ll post pictures in the next few days, but as Mark put it, all you may see are dark and blurry pictures through all the rain, mud, and fog.
Attendees: BC Parks (Mark Grist, Rob Wilson), North Shore Wetland Partners (Bruce), Knee Knacker (Adrian Powell, Kathy Richardson, Doug Richardson, Cindy Newman), An Unnamed Hiking Group (Renate Boorman, Jim Boorman, Elizabeth Trevisan, Andrew Wong)