2016 December 4: Watershed Park to Mud Bay Park

The route
The route

Our last walk of the year was a two-part one, with 13 people starting at Planet Ice so that we could reprise the Burns Bog section.

It was a later start (somewhere between 1:00 and 1:30 pm) so that we could finish up with an early dinner to celebrate another good year of group walking.

We met the rest of the crew (5 people) at Kittson Parkway, and continued through Watershed Park. This month, there were no bridges to speak of. We did go under Highway 10 and crossed some railroad tracks.  We walked along a road of enormous houses in the Panorama Ridge area of Surrey. The last part saw us out on the flats leading to Mud Bay, with fields on either side. We ended at Mud Bay Park. Last year’s walkers may remember Mud Bay Park as part of The One When We Went Under Highway 99.

The walk through the Bog was 4 km and the one from Kittson Parkway to Mud Bay was 7 km, so even for those who did both it was a shorter walk  than usual.

We then did some car shuffling and drove to Rozzini’s, the restaurant we’d noticed last month in the east end of the Queensborough area of New Westminster. The menu promised Greek cuisine, pizza and pasta, and Indian fusion dishes. Although one normally avoids restaurants with enormous menus, this one worked quite well for our group. 7 non-walkers joined us for dinner.

Glasses were raised and Michael presented Ralph with the 2016 One Who Did Every Walk on the Appointed Day award. The relationship between this feat and the slogan on the t-shirt was unclear but this did not seem to matter.

Next year? Who knows. Word of the 2017 series will be out in due course.

2016 November 6: Queensborough and Burns Bog


Twelve Loopers congregated this morning at the 22nd Street Skytrain Station.  Some arrived directly while another group came via bus from the walk’s endpoint, where they had parked.

In spite of gloomy weather forecasts it was a pleasant morning and the rains held off, with the sun actually poking through the clouds now and then.  We headed off south over the Queensborough bridge and took a brief tour of Queensborough, heading East around the tip of Lulu Island.  The first bit was through industrial areas but the East end is a rapidly developing residential area, with a pleasant water-front path encircling it.

After enjoying the view across the river to downtown New Westminster, we turned westward, stopping for a brief lunch break before ascending to the Annacis Channel Bridge to Annacis Island, where we started the long climb up and over the Alex Fraser Bridge.  The trek across the bridge was more pleasant than expected with the traffic noise not totally drowning out conversation.

Upon reaching the south shore we made our way into the Burns Bog Nature Reserve.  The remainder of our walk was in the bog, with much of the route along a wooden walkway.  This provided a pleasant contrast to the hustle of traffic on the bridges.

Upon reaching the endpoint we proceeded to the Sundowner Pub for post-walk refreshments.


2016 October 2: Pitt River and Minnekhada Park

Route map
Route map

This month’s walk was a loop — no driving complications! It included a walk through Minnekhada Park and along the Pitt River.

Fourteen of us met at the corner of Victoria Drive and Cedar Drive in Port Coquitlam and started walking along Cedar Drive towards Minnekhada Lodge. There was a bear in a tree at the side of the road. Fortunately, the contents of the tree seemed to be of more interest than the walkers, and this was true of the several other bears we saw that day.

We passed the Lodge and paused to admire the Minnekhada marsh lookout. Then the walk turned into sun-dappled paths through the woods. Trails led through the park to the Lower Knoll, with a viewpoint, and then the Upper Knoll. Clapham mentioned that a bit of scrambling would be necessary on the last stretch to the Upper Knoll. We all navigated it with varying degrees of grace.

Lunch was eaten in silent satisfaction on the sun-drenched Upper Knoll as we admired the view. After the break, we descended the slope with due care and attention and completed the loop via the Addington Lookout. There was another bit of scrambling, not quite so graceful, and then some walking on the flats along the Pitt River. Here we observed another bear or two. They appear to be able to clamber along branches too thin to hold their weight.

We arrived at the junction with DeBoville Slough and after a bit of discussion settled on the Cat and Fiddle for post-hike refreshments. The Cat and Fiddle appears to cater for a dubious clientele, based on their House Rules (see the last picture). But we got to sit outside in the sun — a lovely thing to be able to do in October.

In case you forgot the rhyme:

Hey diddle diddle,
The cat and the fiddle,
The cow jumped over the moon.
The little dog laughed,
To see such sport,
And the dish ran away with the spoon.

2016 September 4: Maple Ridge to Albion


After completing a round of car shuffling and the obligatory starting selfie, 15 Loopers struck out from our previous stopping point, Laity Street and Dewdney Trunk Road.   We proceeded down Laity to River Road, stopping to view St. John the Divine Church, the oldest active church in the province (and it was active, with the congregation leaving as we passed).

Following River Road to the East we proceeded to Port Haney.  In classic Clapham form we walked up the hill for a block to observe two more historic buildings, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church and the adjacent Masonic Hall, and then made our way back down to the waterfront.

At the waterfront were two more historic buildings, now the Billy Miner Pub and Cafe.  Across the road and railway tracks was the Port Haney Wharf.  We could see across the Fraser to Derby Reach, which we had visited on a previous walk.

After admiring the view we made our way up past Haney House and through the town, passing several parks before descending again to the river at Kanaka Creek.  Kanaka Creek Park offered the option of a loop through the woods which some of us took while others took the opportunity to relax by the riverside.

Leaving the park we headed east along the river.  After about a kilometre the trail dead-ended at a large locked gate.  Clapham’s directions in the book said to make our way around the river side of the gate, but that was an impenetrable barrier of blackberry bushes.  After deciding that there was no other option, we retraced our steps.  About half way back to Kanaka Creek a small trail was observed leading north.  Always up for a challenge we took the plunge, walking through some long grass, along a recently installed fence, through some blackberry brambles to the back of an abandoned warehouse.  (Some of the group were convinced it hid a grow-op.)  Making our way around to the front we found ourselves at River Road, where we wanted to be, but on the wrong side of a barbed-wire topped fence and a locked gate.

So, back we went yet again, down to the river, through Kanaka Creek Park and onto River Road which we followed to our destination – the Kingfisher Pub at Albion.  The various diversions added about 3km to what was billed as a 12km walk.

2016 August 14: Alouette River to Maple Ridge: an encore performance

Five Loopers met in the parking area east of the Pitt River Bridge, and set out a bit ahead of the standard time in a slightly-misguided attempt to beat the heat (a subtitle for this make-up walk might be “Mad Dogs and Loopers go out in the noonday sun.”)

We had the following to guide us on our way: (1) photocopies of the relevant guide book pages; (2) digital photographs of the same; (3) Jon’s GPS track from last week’s walk; and (4) Ralph, a veteran from last week’s walk (“The walk so nice I did it twice”).

Quite a few other people were out enjoying the dikes on foot and on bicycles, as were others in kayaks, attempting to locate the source of the Alouette. At one point we paused to observe a dozen or so people (& dogs) soaking in the river, and were tempted to join them.

Transit back to the starting point was not as seamless as it should have been: our bus driver failed to stop east of the Pitt as requested, forcing us to get off in the middle of nowhere (aka Coquitlam) and catch another bus back (letters of complaint to Translink are being composed).

As a result of this delay Ralph, our veteran guide, decided to pass on the post-walk libations. The remaining four Loopers reconvened for chilled beverages and snacks on the patio of the Gillnetter, cooled by a gentle breeze off the mighty Pitt.

2016 August 7: Alouette River to Maple Ridge



This month’s walk was the first of the side trips for the year. Fourteen Loopers and a guest met at the appointed starting time (10:30am) in the parking area just East of the Pitt River Bridge, a spot we are becoming quite familiar with.  It was a pleasant day, with high overcast and just the right temperature for a walk.

After the obligatory starting selfie we headed to the Pitt River, turning North rather than South this time.  We proceeded North to the confluence of the Alouette and Pitt Rivers and turned East, following along the South shore of the Alouette.

Along the way we observed various birds and other wild (and not so wild) life, including chickens, cows, llamas, and emus.

Post hike-libations were consumed at the Town Hall Pub.



2016 July 3: Walnut Grove to Fort Langley

Route map
Route map

This month, we wrapped up the multi-segment “UBC to Fort Langley” walk.

One of our walkers (the only one who has walked on every first Sunday this year!) lives in Walnut Grove, and kindly volunteered his home for a post-walk barbecue. (There was no pressure.)

Nineteen of us assembled at the home of Ralph and Tina around 10:00 to drop off salads and desserts and then there was some ferrying of cars to the end point. At 10:30, give or take a few minutes, we headed out from the garden gate and down a ravine to catch up with the route as mapped out by Clapham.  Then we walked towards the Fraser on a combination of trails and quiet roads. The day was perfect, with a slight breeze and temperatures hovering around 20 degrees C.

At one point, Jon and Dave performed an impromptu interpretive dance with some leaping and waving of arms which we all immediately understood to mean “this way to a good lunch spot.”

The Trans Canada Trail took us along riverside paths and through Derby Reach Regional Park.

We reached the Old Fort (the site of the original marked by a stone monument), and then headed along the Fort to Fort Trail to the current fort (the third one, that lasted long enough to become a National Historic Site). We ended the walk before reaching the Fort, though, as the cars were parked near Fort Langley’s main street.

As is usual, the group spread out along the way. Some of the early arrivals stopped to sample beer at the Trading Post brewery. The later ones milled about in confusion for a while, texting and phoning the earlier arrivals. Some thought was given to revising the First Commandment, “No Looper shall be left behind” to include the clause that if three or more Loopers go to a bar they have essentially released the rest of the group from any obligation to go looking for them.

Finally, more through luck than organization, all walkers ended up back in Walnut Grove where we had a barbecue of the world’s best chicken, marinated by our host and grilled by the Samurai Chef. Fred conducted a Canada Day Quiz, where we distinguished ourselves by only getting one wrong.

For the rest of the year, we’ll be doing what Clapham labels “Fraser River Side Trips.”

Photos by Angela, Jon, Julie, Liz, and the server at the Trading Post

2016 June 5: Pitt River Bridge to Golden Ears Bridge


Undeterred by threats of record temperatures, 16 Loopers gathered at the East end of the Pitt River Bridge for today’s outing.  The morning started out warm and sunny and got warmer as the day progressed.

Our route took us down the East bank of the Pitt River to where it meets the Fraser River.  From there we turned East along the North bank of the Fraser.  This part of the walk was along dykes and in full sun, with little shade.  For most of the way there were trees between the dyke and the river, but there were opportunities along the way to go down to the riverside.

Fortunately, given the heat, there were two opportunities for impromptu showers along the way.  The first was at a sawmill along the river, where an errant sprinkler, hosing down piles of wood chips, sprayed onto the path.  The second was provided by a home-owner hosing down her driveway as we approached the Golden Ears Bridge.  Reluctant at first, she soon got into the spirit of things, although she did not realize just how many of us were passing by.

Shortly after passing south of the Pitt River Airport, where small planes were circling and practicing their touch-and-go landings, we came to Shoreline Park, with forested trails leading down to the riverbank. Here there was a pleasant riverside oasis for a lunch break.

The final push over the Golden Ears Bridge was in the full heat of the afternoon sun.  The base of the pedestrian cork-screw off-ramp provided a shaded respite where we could gather and await the final arrivals.  From there it was a short (but hot) hike to Jimy Mac’s Pub for cool beverages and snacks.

Most of us then bused (or is that bussed?) back to our cars at the starting point.

2016 May 8: A Mothers’ Day Stroll to the Pitt River Bridge

A team of 9 Loopers assembled at exactly 10:30 am at the corner of King Edwards Street and United Blvd. Everyone was eager to begin our Expedition to the Mighty Pitt, but waited patiently as the official photographer tried to prop up his cellphone for the starting selfie (a combination of the following were found to be effective: one water bottle; one guide book; an orange).

Fred took on the role of Squadron Leader, and he set a brisk pace along United Blvd, protected by an entourage of five female bodyguards: Joette, Janet S., Jean, Lise and Carol. Chris, Sandy and I opted for a more leisurely pace, while attempting to understand Fred’s mysterious power over women. From our vantage point at the rear we could properly appreciate the retail pleasures found in this lovely corner of suburbia (see the accompanying photos: Chris testing an attractive red Naugahyde couch; Sandy in front of his personal furniture store). No Timbits™ were consumed during this section of the walk (through several Loopers did investigate Tim Hortons’ washrooms).

Benefitting from the lessons learned on last week’s expedition, we chose the scenic route alongside the river, and also took a short side trip to a small beach at the mouth of the Coquitlam River, where we chatted with two anglers who hoped to catch trout (one angler using what looked like a genuine Popeil Pocket Fisherman™). We offered to return for dinner (and were instructed to “bring some salt”); but later reneged.

En route, Fred bushwhacked to obtain samples of a tall wildflower just off the path, which Joette, our resident Master Gardener, later tentatively identified as “likely a Phlox” (to quote at greater length from her official botanical report: “There are a few problems with  the idea of Phlox…from what I could see from my now wilted sample, our flower has four petals, while Phlox has five, and most varieties of Phlox have flower stems rising from a clump of leaves at the crown, whereas our plant has long, narrow leaves running up the stem. This is, however, like the cultivated Phlox.” So, TL;DR: likely a cultivated Phlox, living rough.)

Our lunch/snack break occurred when we located a suitable rock beside the path (some chose instead to scramble through underbrush to the river bank). We all agreed, later, that this site was vastly superior to the overly-neat grass, the too-attractive view of the river, and the unnecessarily-comfortable benches which we discovered just around the next bend in the path.

Passing the Gilnetter Pub we chose the pleasures of anticipation over the tawdry seductions of “a quick, cold one at the bar, standing up” (sorry Don). Our spirits, though, were soon lifted by the sight of a parking lot full of cherrypickers, with their arms upraised to the heavens in what looked like supplication. Later, at graveside, while overlooking the final bridge across the Mighty Pitt, we contemplated the mortality of dogs (RIP Mattie Pretty Lawson Keel, Dec 4, 2012 – July 20, 2015 “Only the good die young”). After the obligatory group selfie at the endpoint, we returned to the Gilnetter, and found it worthy of our earlier anticipations.


2016 May 1: Fraser Mills to the Pitt River Bridge


We finally met (slightly late) at the intersection of King Edward Street and United Boulevard in Coquitlam (AKA Fraser Mills). Before that there were some complicated arrangements about leaving cars at the end and ferrying people to the beginning. Confusion arose, owing to (a) unreliable transit;  (b) someone from White Rock not realizing how many Dewdney Trunk Roads there are; and (c) a first-time Looper being lured in by the shallow glitz of Value Village. But a total of 15 people finally met up by a sidewalk furniture sale for the traditional starting selfie.

And we were off! The first part of the walk was not the most picturesque. A hot day, combined with a longish stretch of the concrete sidewalks of United Boulevard, made for a challenging start. It is not surprising that some Loopers were lured into the first Tim Horton’s we came to. Bruce, who is a wonderful man, bought Timbits.

The next section was much greener, as we headed down Leeder and got close to the river. This was an attractive and much cooler section. After going under the Port Mann Bridge, we got slightly lost and headed up a path that took us close to Colony Farm Gardens. When we noticed we were off the recommended path, there was a vote on whether to continue and find an alternative route or to backtrack. We decided to backtrack.

We crossed the Coquitlam River on a footbridge and came back down to the Fraser. We arrived on the pretty, riverfront Argue Street, and shortly afterwards it was oasis in the desert time: we came upon a lemonade stand. Did I mention it was hot?

Part of the appeal of this walk was its combination of riverfront trails and industrial areas. One such industrial area had a large collection of construction paraphernalia, including the kind of cranes with people holders on top that Larrie tells us are called lifts.

We passed the Gillnetter pub. Oasis in the desert time, round 2: one member drank a quick beer there before continuing the walk. If anyone else considers doing this, Don said it is essential to not sit down; you must drink the beer standing at the bar or you are lost. At the end of the walk, he further stated for the record that, far from having an adverse impact on the rest of his walk, the beer was performance-enhancing.

Arriving at the Pitt River, we followed it along to the Pitt River Bridge. We crossed the bridge and arrived at one of the Dewdney Trunk Roads where some cars waited to ferry people back to the Gillnetter. The beer was cold and the nachos were very good. It was another fine weekend walk.

Photos courtesy of Liz, Jon, Ralph, Gayle, Angela, Dave

Drafted during the walk (and subject to endless revision)

Looper Laws

  • The time taken to complete a hike is exponentially proportional to the number of participants.
  • The time taken to arrange transportation for a hike is exponentially proportional to the number of participants.
    • In any case, the resulting transportation plan will automatically be invalid on the day of walking.

The Four Commandments of the Loopers

  • No Looper shall be left behind.
  • No Looper shall interfere with any local life form.
  • No Looper shall comment on the bathroom habits of other Loopers. Or even pay attention to them.
  • A Looper must be self-sufficient. However, sharing with fellow Loopers is encouraged.

Looper Collective Nouns

  • A lofting of lifts