Dragged my ass to North Van to wander around the Capilano Canyon a bit this morning.
Went from the parking lot at the Cleveland Dam level down what I think is the Palisades Trail (the one with the bajillion stairs) down to the Capilano River Hatchery, at which point even though it was all down and no climbing my quads already hated my guts so I figured I’d take a short break and look around in the Hatchery.
They have a window to one of the fish ladders, and while I expected it to be empty as I’d heard the best time to visit was October, I was pleasantly surprised to find some fish in the different levels, mostly resting though I did see a couple hopping up (and one idiot juvenile fish going down… aren’t they supposed to only do that in the spring?)
My photos are pretty blurry from there:
There was this one fellow who was hanging out in the lowest level of the fish ladder. Not sure if he was just resting before jumping to the next one or if he’d decided to kinda give up on this breeding nonsense. He seemed to be observing me as much as I was observing him, and he sure as Hell wasn’t going to oblige me for a photo of him jumping to the next level up the fish ladder.
Anyway, from the Hatchery, I headed over the Cable Bridge to the West side of the river to do the Coho loop down to the Pipeline Bridge.
I saw a trio of kayakers getting their stuff ready as I went into the hatchery, they were gone by the time I headed out of the hatchery, but I did see them from the bridge. Didn’t get any photos, though.
Considering the fury of the Capilano and all those pesky rocks and stuff in it, I’m not sure whether to consider the kayakers brave souls or lunatics. I may be slightly biased as my only experience in a kayak was sea kayaking up in Sechelt on a fairly flat water day, and I still damn well almost drowned.
Meh, I guess everyone needs a hobby… but I present exhibit A: looking towards the hatchery from the Cable Bridge, and this is the calm part of the river:
Anyway, I headed south-ish towards the Pipeline Bridge. Didn’t take any pics on that this time. Whatever. Crossed the bridge and headed back up along the Coho Loop Trail back towards the Cable Bridge.
It was interesting to see some of the geological formations of the canyon, being that I’m currently reading a PDF book on Vancouver’s geology (because I’m more boring than most people assume). Basically, we have 4km of sedimentary rock from river and glacial deposits, which then got squashed into rock, and uplifted after the last ice age, but also intrusions of igneous and metamorphic rock because volcanos. Not that long after I bent down to pick up some kid’s fun-size Mr. Big wrapper left by the Pipeline Bridge to stuff in my pocket to throw in the trash at the parking lot, I noted the undercut sedimentary layers exposed by the side of the trail, then a few feet further north, a big fat rock hanging out in the middle of them, presumably dumped there when the last glacier melted back out of the Capilano Canyon. It’s a little bigger than a Mr. Big wrapper, but kinda the same idea.
There was a viewpoint platform about halfway between the two bridges on the east side, with access down to the big rocks on the side of the river where fisherman were casting their lines. One of these large rocks had some small red liquid pools – I guess where catches were gutted and prepared.
And more of those friendly rapids:
Anyway, I headed across the Cable Bridge again and north on the west side of the river towards the Second Canyon Viewpoint, close enough to get doused in the freezing cold mist cloud from the dam’s spillway.
After that I headed to the Giant Fir, which I had bypassed on previous visits (well, I also skipped the Second Canyon Viewpoint, too). Before getting there, I saw another two old growth trees, which a sign labeled as “Ancient Sentinels”:
Then up and around to the official “Giant Fir” which was impressive but honestly not quite as “giant” as I expected:
From there it was back up the access road to the top of the dam and looking down the spillway: