A Path to Nowhere…really (Part 2 of the Baden Powell trek)

Nowhere, really a trail to nowhere

Now that I’m back from the wild, part two of this story is due. I titled the initial piece ‘A Path to Nowhere’ in a somewhat lame attempt to communicate that the trail wasn’t a loop- it’s a path to an endpoint that won’t take you back to where you whence came. Little did I know, this would be a far more literal description of the situation. About 10km into this one-way hike I met a bridge over a wide, rushing river…adorned with this lovely sign.

With the grand reveal off limits (Lynn Valley Suspension Bridge) I’ve decided to spend some time reflecting on what was, in spite of the closure, quite a pleasant way to spend a Wednesday.

The first leg off the trek begins by Deep Cove at the Baden Powell Trailhead. Though it can occasionally be challenging to find trailheads I was easily guided to the start of the Baden Powell trail by Google Maps. The first leg takes you up to Quarry Rock. This hike is extremely popular with Vancouverites and visitors alike. Even at around 10:00 am on a Wednesday I passed and encountered many other hikers. After stopping to take in the sights I proceeded back to the Baden Powell with the goal of following it for the next 9 or so kilometers to the Lynn Valley Suspension Bridge.

After Quarry Rock I was met with the kind of solitude that can be enjoyable or terrifying depending on your mindset. Between Quarry Rock and the end of the trail I only encountered 3 other hikers, if you’re someone who seeks alone time in the great outdoors this could be a great choice for you (also, if you have to pee, just wait until you’re past Quarry Rock…a, uh, friend of mine told me that). The first gentleman I encountered asked where I was hoping to finish the hike. After shaking off his skepticism that I would be able to hike “such a long way to Lynn Valley” I continued up a moderate incline at a pace generally reserved for athletes. I passed one other fellow and exchanged only a nod.

After a long while without spotting another human I started to think…this can be dangerous. Images of cougars and nefarious folk coursed through my mind so I fought back in the only way I know how- I sang. This ususally works well for me, singing something familiar (Safe and Sound by Hawksley Workman came to mind today for some reason) is calming and being tone deaf is handy in scaring away any animals I may come across.

Singing away and keeping the manufactured demons at bay I rounded a corner and spotted someone quite far up ahead of me on the trail. The singing stopped- what limited shame I do have kicked in. As I closed the gap between us I noticed this was someone dressed in camouflage carrying a shovel (?!). I was distracted playing out different scenarios around what he might be up to and before I knew it I was coming up to pass. After a brief exchange I came to realize that this was a rather friendly fellow off to do some trail maintenance on a patch of the trail that his company sponsors.

After images of shovel wielding murders left my head I was free to focus on the hike. Trail guides I reviewed prior to setting off alluded to a couple of tough-to-navigate places on the trail. For the most part this was easy enough to weather. The one exception would be just after crossing Mount Seymour Parkway. There is a steep descent that lasts for nearly a kilometre, it flattens out briefly and you’re presented with what looks like two trails without markings. One appears to almost be a small stream running along a mostly dry creek bed while the other is decidely less damp. I’ll save you the additional kilometer or so of trying different routes- take the creek.

Settling back into my element (badly singing) I encountered a series of stairs and boardwalks. Easy to navigate, my mind started to wander again. I was reminded of this exceptionally sad book I once read wherein the main character ended up paralysed after tripping over a rug at some fancy house party (for enquiring minds, upon arrival home and some internet research I realized the book was ‘Extraordinary’ by David Gilmour). My pace of progress forward on this section of the trail slowed to a pace almost as embarrassing as my wildlife warning system (again, the singing badly) while I took extreme caution not to trip.

After the descent and boardwalks the trail flattens out and becomes a calm nature walk. After about 10 minutes of this I was again ready for a challenge so picked up the pace into a light jog- yeah, I mean really flattens out. I wound my way through what appears to be a trail bordered by people’s back yards and came upon what would be my final crossroads. I double-checked the map just to be sure…and my heart sank. To continue on I would need to cross a river. At the foot of the bridge I encountered the sign ‘Danger, Area Closed, Keep Out’.

Getting over my disappointment (and the occasional grumbling aloud about “why didn’t they post notice somewhere earlier on”) I trekked out of the woods and found myself in a pleasant North Vancouver neighbourhood. Though not completely what I had in mind, with few other choices I walked. I walked about 2.5 kilometers until I managed to find a cab. Now, if you’ve read part one you may be sitting there chuckling at my initial condemnation of the additional 2.4 km that one would be forced to walk if they chose to think of this trail as ‘Transit Friendly’. The irony is not lost.

After a lovely, very non-rugged cab ride home I reflect- not what I was hoping for, still a great Wednesday and eager to pick next weeks’ foray into the wild.