New group welcomes ramblers and rovers

If you’re the type of person who instinctively prefers the term ‘rambling’ to ‘hiking,’ you might be interested to hear about a new informal walking group that meets twice a month.

Jane and Leo are friends who have made a habit of meandering Lynn Valley trails, learning about the flora and fauna they encounter, chatting along the way, and – in short – making the journey an end in itself.

Now they are inviting others to join them every second Sunday, beginning at 2 p.m. at the End of the Line store at the top of Lynn Valley Road. They pick a ‘theme’ for each walk (the next one, July 29th, will be trees, while the following one on August 12 will be logging lore) and spend an hour exploring the trails, and the theme, at a leisurely pace. (See our Events Calendar for upcoming walks.)

If you’d like to become a Lynn Valley rambler, contact Jane at or see the notice posted at the End of the Line.

Knee Knacker just latest challenge for elite LV runner

Some of the world’s top ultra-marathoners will be participating in this Saturday’s infamous Knee Knacker, a 30-mile run from Horseshoe Bay to Deep Cove along the Baden Powell trail, and Hilary Ewart is excited to be amongst them.

It’s the second Knee Knacker for this Lynn Valley mom, and though she doesn’t consider herself a natural runner – “I’m not built for it, “ she claims – she says there is a mutual feeling of equality and respect at the starting line, regardless of ability.

“I’ve never been made to feel that I shouldn’t be there,” she said this week as she reflected on some of the races she’s tackled. “Though I sometimes question myself.”

It’s hard to imagine anyone questioning Hilary’s credentials when you look at her running CV. While she says she wasn’t particularly sporty as a youth (“Honestly, if I can do this, anyone can”), once she started running, there was no holding her back.

She started as a recreational jogger, then decided to join her husband Ian as he trained for a half-marathon. That was semi-successful – she liked to chat the whole way, which drove him nuts – but it was the start of a pursuit that would end up changing her life and how she lives it.

Her determination (or, in her own words, her “obsession”) kept pushing her to longer and more far-flung running adventures, encouraged on by the friendships she developed with other women keen to travel to races.

One of her favourite memories is accomplishing her very first marathon in her native Scotland, with her parents there to cheer her on. She still gets goosebumps recounting the pride with which her father congratulated her after her triumphant finish.

She’s raced in Big Sur, in Paris, and in Wales. Along the way, she became bored with road running and decided to try her hand – or her feet – at trail running. “I can still remember my first run with the Knee Knacker training group,” she recalls now. “It was humbling… it was really challenging.”

But this is clearly a woman who likes a challenge. In August 2010, she decided the 15 months ahead would include the Dirty Duo race in Lynn Canyon, the Diez Vista in Burnaby, her first Knee Knacker, and, to top it all off, a three-day, 85-mile run in Wales. While she was admittedly burnt out by the end of that time, she says the Welsh race was one of her best.

“I don’t know why, but I just felt wonderful,” she says. “At times along the way, I was feeling euphoric.”

People are always searching for that “runner’s high,” she says, although it tends to be elusive. It’s more common to encounter the lows when you’re running a tough course.

“You know the gremlins are there,” notes Hilary. “Sometimes they don’t appear; sometimes they spend the whole day with you. But you eventually learn that the bad feelings go away.”

Hilary’s health routine includes twice-weekly yoga, pre-race massages at Canopy Health, and keeping well fuelled during a run. She finds that her ‘away’ races can be easier, in that she’s divorced from her daily responsibilities and can be “a bit selfish,” focussing just on her challenge ahead.

She has spent this week getting over her jet lag from a trip to South America with husband Ian, catching up on her human resources job at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C., and dealing with a few butterflies as she contemplates Saturday’s Knee Knacker – one of the toughest trail runs in North America.

She’s done it before, but not in the heat that is forecast for Saturday. Between Horseshoe Bay and Deep Cove, she’ll face 16,000 feet of vertical climb and descent, and hopes to complete the course in somewhere between seven to nine hours. “I’m a back of the packer,” she chuckles, saying she is built for endurance, not for speed.

Anyone who tackles this run is an elite athlete in our book, regardless of their final time, and at LynnValleyLife we wish all 200 runners good health and good spirits. We’ll be reporting back with Hilary’s experience, and tell you all about her next adventure – a six-day stage race in the Himalayas this fall!

– Peggy Trendell-Jensen, editor

Update: We checked in with Hilary on Sunday afternoon, and were delighted to hear she completed the race despite the heat and the record number of runners who dropped out along the way. Our congratulations to anyone brave enough to cross the starting line, and all those determined enough to reach the finish line!


Share your favourite walks and hikes

There is much to be said for the walks and hikes in and around Lynn Valley. So why don’t you help us say it?

We already have a walks and hikes section that’s a good starting point for people who want to get out for some fresh air. You’ll find links to local trail maps and safety tips, and a selection of narrated walks that feature some of Lynn Valley’s classic family forays.

But summertime is the time for exploring, so we’d like locals to help each other with some new adventure ideas. A dog walk that’s old hat to you might be quite undiscovered by someone just a few blocks away! Lynn Valley has so many trails, we would guess that no one knows about all of them – but collectively, we can put together quite a guidebook for people of all ages and fitness levels!

Please have a look at our descriptive walks (like this one) and if you’d like to share the details of a hike you’re familiar with, please send them our way – photos, too, if you can! We’ll edit it into a format we can share with your on-site Lynn Valley neighbours.

If you’ve got a favourite run or bike ride, we’d love to hear about those, too. Thanks for your help, and happy hiking!

– Peggy Trendell-Jensen, editor

Circling helicopters part of Lynn Valley life

FROM THE EDITOR: The sound of sirens isn’t too unusual in Lynn Valley, especially during the summer months when it’s often assumed emergency responders are en route to a mishap in Lynn Canyon.

While those occurrences can sometimes be tragic, we’re lucky to live in an area where emergency vehicles are generally responding to accidents or medical incidents rather than high crime and skulduggery. But the noise of a helicopter circling overhead late at night recently prompted one LynnValleyLife reader to ask “If we hear a chopper at night, does that mean a serial killer is loose in the woods?”

Cpl. Richard De Jong

An excellent question, we thought. So we took it to Cpl. Richard De Jong, the North Van RCMP media relations officer who is always happy to help answer our queries. In short, the answer is ‘no’ – it could be up there for any number of reasons.

There are two helicopters in the Lower Mainland that are jointly owned by the RCMP and other police agencies, ICBC, and the provincial government. Available 24 hours a day, they are dubbed Air 1 and Air 2 (names reminiscent of those in a high-action movie, or, alternately, The Cat in the Hat).

The choppers are deployed in a wide variety of situations, from high-speed traffic chases, to locating lost individuals, to providing support in potentially dangerous situations – such as the recent capture of an individual being sought for a double homicide in Burnaby. Cpl. De Jong says that along with the pilot, there is always a police officer on board in case the helicopter has to set down to make or assist in an arrest.

“To the officer on the street who is in a foot chase or a vehicle chase, having a ‘partner’ up in the sky that can move quickly and have a bird’s eye view of the developing situation… can be life-saving,” said Cpl. De Jong. “Often, just having the police helicopter show up at a volatile scene or chase has a defusing effect.”

That said, in our area it is often visibility more than volatility that is the issue. Lynn Valley, he notes, is in a mountainous area, and often the reason a helicopter is brought in is to help locate individuals lost in our back country.

At night, Air 1 and Air 2 are invaluable because they are equipped with special lights that can detect movement and heat in complete darkness (sorry, parents, they are not available to help you track errant teens who may have missed curfew, or nab that bear that keeps feasting on your fruit trees!)

For more information, and a narrated audio-visual clip of Air 1 on patrol, visit here. And rest assured, when you hear those distinctive chopper noises in the sky, the chances that it’s due to an axe-wielding bogey man are slim!

– Peggy Trendell-Jensen is the editor of LynnValleyLife.





Take a walk on the wild side at Lynn Headwaters event

The 100th Lynn Valley Day shindig may be over as of Saturday evening, but the celebration of local heritage will continue on Sunday with an event at Lynn Headwaters Park.

Wilderness At Your Doorstep gives people the chance to learn more about the mountain folds and forests that have shaped the history of this neighbourhood, and the pioneers who were there when it happened.Lynn Valley Headwaters, North Vancouver

Archeology students and experts on park trails, bear behaviour, and history will be on hand to introduce people to the natural history of the park. Artifacts that bring to life the logging and mining activities that took place in the area are on display at the BC Mills House at the park entrance.

The small museum is an example of the early pre-fab homes that were sold by the B.C. Mills Timber and Trading Company of Vancouver. It was originally assembled at 147 East 1st Street in 1908, by Captain Henry Pybus, who commanded the CPR Express of China and the Empress of Japan. In 1994, the Sixth Field Engineering Squadron of North Van dismantled the house and reassembled it in its current location in Lynn Headwaters, where its refurbishing was financed with B.C. Heritage Trust funds that were granted to Metro Vancouver Parks. (For some interesting background on the history of the BC Mills homes, visit this article from Heritage Vancouver.)

Wilderness at Your Doorstep runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 27th, and refreshments will be provided by Tim Hortons.

Thanks to parks volunteers, BC Mills House is also open to the public from May to September from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays and public holidays. For a three-minute video tour through the park and the BC Mills museum, click here.


Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge celebrates 100 years

BY TRICIA EDGAR: In 2012, Lynn Canyon Park is 100 years old. Let’s go on a walk through the trails of the canyon a century ago. If you’d visited then, what would you have seen?

It’s a sunny day, and you decide to take the small rail car up from the waterfront to get to the park. As you move up the hill toward Lynn Valley, you see small houses that dot the landscape, standing amidst the remains of a giant forest. The tram moves up the road the place where Dempsey and Lynn Valley Road meet today.  You get off the tram and follow the trail into the park. As you walk, you can hear the music of a live band playing in the bandstand and the shouts of laughter from the children playing in the playground.

Huge stumps of Douglas-fir and Western Red Cedar dot the landscape, and small alder trees grow abundantly, surrounded by salmonberries and other sun-loving shrubs.

You buy lemonade for eight cents from the refreshment stand and sit down to enjoy a relaxing lunch in the picnic area under the shade of a few smaller trees.  You hear the water rushing through the canyon and feel the breeze as it blows through alders that line the creek.  You reach into your pocket, looking for 10 cents that will allow you to cross the suspension bridge, a swinging bridge that stands a daunting fifty meters above the rushing Lynn Creek.

This was Lynn Canyon Park when it opened on September 12, 1912.  When Mr. J.P. Crawford originally proposed a park to the McTavish brothers who had logged the area, all parties involved had great real estate dreams of drawing people to Lynn Valley.  Although logging was the main industry in the area, Lynn Valley was still fairly heavily treed and would be a beautiful, sought-after area in which to live.  To create the core of the park, the McTavish brothers made a 12-acre donation which was met with a 10-acre donation from the District Council of North Vancouver.

Their business venture was a huge success, and for seven years the park was a thriving tourist destination. However, just seven short years after the park opened, it changed dramatically.  Following three weeks of straight rain, on November 14, 1919, several acres of land collapsed into the river, bringing with it most of the park infrastructure: the caretaker’s cottage, the bandstand, the refreshment booth, and the picnic tables.

Over time, the park has been rebuilt and transformed again and again by nature and by people. Since 1971, the Lynn Canyon Ecology Centre has provided education for over 2.6 million visitors to the park. The Centre was built in the shape of the Dogwood blossom, B.C’s floral emblem. The Centre provides park visitors with an opportunity to learn even more about this ever-changing wilderness that sits just next door to Vancouver.

Over the last 100 years, the once-tiny firs, cedars, and hemlocks left behind by long ago loggers have grown into huge trees that inspire millions of visitors from around the world. The suspension bridge draws line-ups of visitors every summer, and it’s cheaper than it used to be: it’s free! Today, Lynn Canyon Park conserves 617 acres of temperate rainforest, providing a wilderness oasis on the urban fringe and catering to families, tourists and outdoor enthusiasts alike.

– Tricia Edgar is the Lynn Canyon Ecology Centre’s eduction programmer.

Food scrap collection? Let’s lead the way!

FROM LYNN O’MALLEY: As of the first week of May, we Lynn Valleyites have the chance to step up and really prove ourselves. That’s when the North Shore Recycling Program is extending its weekly yard waste pick-up service to include food scraps.

This is exciting news for the majority of locals who have, over the past decade, become more and more conscious of the amount of garbage they generate. As they’ve reduced and reused, and been given increased recycling options such as those discussed in this recent post, many people been able to reduce their household waste a significant amount.

Amanda Vantol of the NSRP demonstrate a stainless steel under-sink bin she likes to use to collect her kitchen waste.

However, food scraps and food-stained paper products that aren’t appropriate for backyard composting have continued to pose a problem. Bones, meat, dairy, grains, used paper towels …. all have ended up in the garbage can.

But these are just some of the items now eligible to be added to our yard waste collection bin (as of your first garbage day in May). The question is, will we bother?

Jenn Meilleur of the North Shore Recycling Program says that people in some municipalities in Metro Vancouver, where food scraps collection has already been introduced, have been a bit slow on the uptake – “but participation is increasing over time,” she notes.

Sure, separating out our food scraps will require a change in habit, but that doesn’t mean it’s an onerous task. That’s why I’m telling you now, so you can start planning ahead and be waiting eagerly at the curbside with your food scraps can when the truck rolls up in May.

This isn’t just an investment in our environmental health, but in our municipal budget as well. According to the NSRP website, the 23,000 households on the North Shore who are already backyard composting are estimated to be saving our municipalities about $800,000 in tipping fees. Think of all the worthwhile neighbourhood causes that can be addressed with that saved cash!

Backyard composting remains the best option for organic waste, requiring no pick up or processing, but as this new food scraps program allows for an added number of items to be diverted from the waste stream, it will help reduce our waste tonnage even further.

The NSRP has an excellent FAQ section on its website, and will be sending out an info kit and Green Can decals to all households in mid-April.

The gist of the new program is this:

– food scraps and food-stained paper products can be added to your existing yard waste pick up, but…

– food scraps may NOT be put out at the curb in paper yard-waste bags.

– suggested containers include a basic 77-litre can; good ones are available at hardware stores for about $15. Stick a Green Can decal on it, and use the can for both food and yard waste.

– start thinking about kitchen systems that will help make this an easy habit to adopt. Hardware and garden shops carry a number of under-sink compost collection bins, or you can repurpose a lidded ice cream bucket.

– You can line your kitchen bin with a sheet of newspaper to make dumping and clean-up easier. Please note that plastic bags, even those marketed as compostable, are not accepted in the food scraps collection as they can hinder the processor’s machinery.

– By taking advantage of the various recycling options offered in and around Lynn Valley, you may find that your ‘main’ kitchen garbage can becomes somewhat redundant. Downsize it to save some space!

Let’s get cracking on our kitchen organization now and adopt this program with open arms. We can make Lynn Valley the top Green Can neighbourhood in MetroVan!

Recycling depots close at hand

Lynn Valley is an excellent place to live if you’re an environmentalist. Sure, we have lots of trees. But did you know we’re also particularly well-situated when it comes to recycling drop-off depots?

We’re a hop, skip and a jump from North Van District’s recycling depot located across from the transfer station on Riverside, where you can drop off large quantities of our curbside recyclables and purchase subsidized bins for backyard composting.

We’re even closer to two other handy depots – the WCS Recycling Depot on the corner of Mountain Highway and Dominion Road, and the Encorp Depot across from Park and Tilford at 310 Brooksbank.

WCS will accept a wide range of non-curbside recyclables, six days a week, for a small drop-off fee.  Check their website for accepted materials, as well information on their prepaid ‘red bag program,’ which gives locals a convenient way to stockpile their Styrofoam, plastic bags, gable-top cartons, laminate foil and non-blue box plastics in between depot trips.

Encorp is a busy drop-off point for beverage containers, but also accepts electronics and small household appliances.

And a number of charities, such as the Developmental Disabilities Association and Big Brothers, will come to your home to pick up clothing and small household goods for re-sale. Call Big Brothers at 604-526-2447 or email; Developmental Disabilities can be reached at 604-273-4DDA.

Wondering where to recycle other household items? Check out this complete recycling listing, courtesy of the North Shore Recycling Program.

District workers are up the creek

FROM THE EDITOR: It’s always been easy to be impressed by Lynn Valley’s trees; after all, the world’s tallest fir – measuring 417 feet high and 77 feet around – was documented here in 1875. But for the next few months at least, it’s Lynn Valley’s streams that will be in the spotlight, thanks to a project being launched by North Vancouver District.

Most of Lynn Valley drains into the 23-km Hastings Creek, which springs from the east slope of Grouse Mountain and lets out into Lynn Creek near Hoskins and Arborlynn.

Hastings Creek and its tributaries (including Thames Creek) played a huge role in Lynn Valley’s early logging days, allowing for mill ponds and the rushing water that carried shingle bolts down the area’s infamous log flumes.

Hastings Creek Bridge over Lynn Valley Road.

But damming and later urban development took its toll on the creek, and – now that the Official Community Plan has passed and set out a framework for the future – North Van District is doing an in-depth study of the waterways to determine how local streams can be protected or enhanced.

According to Rjchard Boase, NVD Environmental Protection Officer, creeks “tend to suffer dramatically from the cumulative effects of many small infringements.” The District has contracted with environmental and engineering consultants who will walk the streams to check the stability and composition of their banks, log what natural species are present (or notable for their absence), take photos, and assess drainage infrastructure.

Since so many Lynn Valley homeowners have streams running near or through their property, the District wants to alert residents to the project, as they will no doubt see the researchers in action (they will be carrying identification). The work will start at the end of January, and likely wrap up by April 30. Results will be presented to the public in June.

There have already been many improvements made to the health of Hastings Creek since various restoration projects began in the late 1970s with the installation of a fish ladder near the mouth of the creek. Today, after the addition of more ladders and many environmental and fisheries projects undertaken by everyone from the North Shore Streamkeepers to school children, Boase says the fish population is alive and vital.

Coho salmon, he reports, travel Hastings Creek up to and including Hunter Park, while resident trout are also active above that section and into Twin Lakes.

While the municipal government will be looking at ways to further protect our local waterways, there is plenty that homeowners can be doing to ensure the health of the Hastings Creek watershed.

For information on development restrictions around streams, click here. Or visit this site for a number of lawn, garden, automotive and other household tips that help ensure clean waterways.

And to learn more about the Hastings Creek Watershed Management Plan initiative, click here or call North Vancouver District’s Engineering or Environmental Department at 604-990-2450.

 – Peggy Trendell-Jensen