Monday, June 04, 2007

Vancouver: City of Parks - Ravine Park

The history of discovery is littered with accidents. Searching for a faster route to Asia, for instance, Columbus accidentally found the Americas instead; the quest for the elusive Northwest Passage opened European eyes to many marvels - none of them what they were looking for, but oh well...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketIt was the same for me. Last Sunday I set off to discover a viable walking route to my friend Buffy's new place; along the way I encountered many wonders, including palatial homes on gracious avenues of mature trees and, my most favourite thing of all, a park.

See that tiny sliver of green there on the map? As its name would indicate, nestled into a ravine among the many folds of the Arbutus Ridge, is a tiny oasis of tranquility set amongst some pretty tranquil streets. Originally a streambed, water now rushes through the area in a culvert beneath the pathway.

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Entering from the north along W. 33rd (between Arbutus and Yew) the park is almost invisible from the street. For one thing, the entrance is set quite far back, and for the other thing the frontage is narrow. All of this promised that my passage through the park would likely be undisturbed by other people.

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The immediate sensation upon entering the park is that, despite the fact that it is hemmed in by some fairly busy streets, within itself all is quiet. There weren't even any birds. The trees touch overhead - far overhead, as these trees are fully grown - and wind shushes through the uppermost branches.

It's clear Ravine Park - like most of the parks in Vancouver - had sustained some damage in the storms of past December. At least one large tree had been felled where it broke, and was left to serve as a nurse log. None of them seems to have hit any houses, most of which are only occasionally visible on the upper slopes.

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Despite the damage, the overhead canopy was unaffected, and remains unbroken. The uphill walk was never steep along the main path. Although there was a steeper auxiliary path, it didn't look official; more like the sort of thing roughed out by bored rich kids in search of... Who knows? I've never been one, so I have no idea what they're looking for. Judging by what they'd left behind, I can only guess: a place to litter, smoke, and commit grafitti. None of these, however, was overwhelming.

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I'll definitely be going back to Ravine Park; the next time I go to visit Buffy I'd like to take some video of the route. I was walking slowly and taking pictures, and still I managed to get through it in under five minutes.

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I couldn't have said it better myself.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketTruly worthy of being called an oasis, Ravine Park is also a reminder. Not a hundred years ago, the entire west side was carpeted in mature hemlock forest such as this.

The city considers this an undeveloped park, even though there are cherry trees planted along both ridgelines, within the mini-forest itself things are pretty much as you might find them in the wild, right down to the profusion of bracken ground cover, mosses, and lichens.
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