Saturday, June 12, 2010

A Walk Through the Upper sections Of Kanaka Creek Park

Kanaka Creek Park is a GVRD created park that encompasses the entire course of Kanaka Creek, from it's head waters in the Coast Mountain Range in the northern part of Maple Ridge, all the way to where the creek flows into the mighty Fraser River directly across from the old townsite of Derby on the south side of the river, the site of the original Fort Langley.

Kanaka Creek, indeed the Kanaka area of Maple Ridge, is named after the Hawaiian labourers that sailed on the Hudson Bay Company ships from their home port in the Hawaiian Islands to North America. Some of the Islanders liked the area so much they left the employment of the HBC, married regional First Nations women and settled across the river from the fort, at the mouth of a large, slow moving creek.

Here the Kanakans, which means "native Hawaiians" or "kānaka maoli" in Hawaiian, established a small village inhabited by a mix of Kanakans and First Nations people. Many of them worked at the fort, and they rowed daily across the river to work. At the mouth of the river are remnants of a wier that the locals made to trap fish for food for the settlement. If you go to the viewing platform that over looks the confluence of the Kanaka Creek and the Fraser River, you'll see decaying wooden posts protruding from the water.

For our walk tonight, we chose the northen sections of Kanaka Creek; this is the area of the park that is bisected by Dewdney Trunk Road. Dewdney Trunk Road, or DTR, has a pedigree of its own. It was surveyed and constructed by Edgar Dewdney, running from Port Moody at the eastern edge of Burrard Inlet, eastwards to the town of Dewdney in the Fraser Valley. Edgar Dewdney also surveyed the land for the City of New Westminster, and, if you've done any travelling in the southern section of B.C., you'll be well acquainted with the "Dewdney Trail" which Edgar Dewdney surveyed. The Trail was to run from HBC Fort Hope at the head of the Fraser Valley, 720 kilometres east along the southern edge of the province reaching HBC Fort Steele in the East Kootenay area of B.C.

We parked at the intersection of DTR and 272 Street where an old logging road starts. This road, I'm told, goes as far north as the local mountains, which is a few miles back. We weren't going that far, we were only going as far as the geocache I have hidden 10 minutes up the road. This is a great area, a typical West Coast Rain Forest in all it's glory. Various types of moss coat the cedar and broad leaf maple trees, for which Maple Ridge is named. Sunlight filters down to the forest floor where ferns and salmom berry bushes spread their leaves to gather the sunlight.

As you walk along the old road, large cedar stumps, some 10 - 15 feet high, stand as sentinels to remind us of a time when logging was a manual job. Loggers would cut a notch into the tree approx 5 feet off the forest floor, then jam 6 foot long "spring boards" on which they would stand to help clear them of the bushes and smaller trees at forest floor level. Two men would handle a large saw and slowly work their way through a tree with a trunk so big that it took 4 men to reach around it.

Now, the remnants of those grand daddy trees serve as nursery trees for the younger generations; many old stumps have younger trees growing out, and around, the stumps. In nature, with death comes life.

We walked along the forest road, enjoying the setting sun as it strained to shine between the trees, casting bursts of light that lit up the hanging mosses that still dripped water from the earlier day's rains. It was a golden moment to be sure. Geocache found, log book signed, we sauntered up the road a ways further before we turned around and headed south for another section of the park.

We parked near Cliff Falls, a section of Kanaka Park where the creek runs through a small canyon of sandstone. Sandstone is a "soft" rock, which allows the river to wear away at it easily, creating sculpted formations of pot holes and smooth sandstone beds where the river rushes over. It looks like you could "slide" all the way down the falls from one section to another. Don't try it though, I know of at least one incidence where a young person enjoying the creek during the heat of summer under estimated the force of the water and paid a high price for their fun.

From the western end of this section of the park, there are several trails that run east on the north and south sides of the creek, as far as the Bell-Irving Fish Hatchery on 256th street. These are easy trails with moderate inclines, doable by most people.

For our short jaunt tonight, we stayed in the area of the falls. The falls are known as Cliff Falls, but I've also seen reference to them as Arnold Falls, which I could not find an origin for the use of that name. We found the two geocaches in the falls area, more importantly we got to experience the power of the falls and the beauty of the park created by the forces of wind, water, and earth. Hard to beat that!

Before we knew it, 9.00 PM was upon us, as was the descending darkness. Time to quit gawking and start "gittin" home. In total, we only spent a couple of easy hours in the park, but the two hours were breath taking. If you have the, _make time_ to spend a few hours amongst the beauty of the forest that is so close to home. The few geocaches may seem like the prize for coming, but you'll forget all about them once you start to walk the trails. The real prize is nature at it's finest.......