Cameron held the map of Capilano Regional Park I’d printed out, firmly tracing his finger along the path we had highlighted. We had been here before, with Dad and Janice, but I figured we’d be hitting the trails and so a map might be helpful. Then Cameron wanted one of his own. The boy he was showing, newly arrived from Fiji we found out, was suitably impressed. His family didn’t seem to know where exactly to go, so I gave them my copy, leaving Cameron the possessor of our one map. Very important.
Here is where we are, and here is where the fish hatchery is, and then my mommy and I are going to walk allllllll the waaaaaaay down to here.
His finger traced the yellow path, and it was indeed all the way down there. But one step at a time. I wanted him to focus on where we were, enjoy the moment, not get all wrapped up in the path we would take or where it would lead us. That’s one of the tricky traps about having a map for a hike, I suppose.
We were starting up at Capilano Lake, one of the big, clear lakes that Vancouver gets its drinking water from. And what a great conversation starter – why do we need clean water, does everyone have clean water, how do we keep it clean, and really is that all the water for everyone in the city? It’s low at this time of year, why? What is the dam for? Why are they letting some water through? Why is it so far down? So many questions – some were asked by Cameron, and I asked him some too.
Then a short hike through the forest, down to the fish hatchery, busy with both human and salmon visitors. The fishway (also called a fish ladder) was filled with salmon headed upstream to spawn. So here too was filled with questions – some from Cameron, some I asked him, and the Fijian family had share too. Cameron enjoyed explaining how the fish ladder works, like a stair case for the fish, but it’s hard work so they rest between jumps.
After this we parted ways with the Fijian family, they followed the map to help them find their way back to the main road and the busses, and we hit the trails.
The paths wind their way downstream, first on one side of the Capilano River, then crossing to the other. For the most part the trails are dry and wide, clearly marked, and an easy grade, with lots to see. Every now and then there’s a pool where men and boys (and surely sometimes women and girls too, though none that day) climb over the rocks of the cliffs to fish. At one place, the Cable Pool, stairs lead down to the rocky ravine’s bottom, where we climbed over boulders, touched the water, and saw the guts and eggs (roe?) left behind by successful fishers.
There was lots to talk about. Fungus, nurse trees, how the river made the canyon, where all the water came from, how many fish might be down there, what else might live down there … we chattered the whole way.
Bridges across streams tumbling their way down to the river far below provoked shrieks and giggles, as we dashed to avoid the trolls that lived beneath them. Cameron nearly jumped out of his skin, then laughed so hard he had to sit down, when I stomped my feet loudly and yelled, “OH NO, the TROLL!”
Ohmy, I’m writing a lot tonight. Did I mention this was around a four hour adventure?
Finally, the path led up out of the canyon to join a wider, more open trail, down to the highway. Cameron had been doing super well, holding my hand and watching his step, and now he could run and jump and play and just let loose a bit while we kept walking. A bit of a walk through a corner of West Vancouver, and then back to the river bed, rocky and bright under blue sky and sun, freezing cold to the touch. We sat on rocks and dangled our fingers in the water, and talked about the path it had taken. Cameron stacked rocks, chattering away about being an artist and painting them with water.
Relaxed and refreshed, it was time for the final reward before heading home: hot chocolate. All in all, a fantastic adventure. Cameron learned to read the map (as we stopped periodically to check our progress), but also to slow down and enjoy where we were. The end point was not the goal. The goal was nothing more than an enjoyable walk in the woods, just the two of us, seeing new things, and enjoying each other’s company. Mission accomplished.