The back side of the Chilliwack River Valley sign. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)

The back side of the Chilliwack River Valley sign. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)

OPINION: Beautiful B.C. – Isn’t it great? Shhh… Don’t tell anyone!

Huge numbers flocked to popular Chilliwack River Valley on Labour Day weekend

Early on in this pandemic, people were cooped up, many in a state approximating lockdown, and we were all going outside less and less often.

As the months wore on, the repeated advice from health experts switched to: Get outside, get exercise, get fresh air.

In recent months, that advice on being outside combined with restrictions on international and even inter-provincial travel – along with a dash of COVID-19 fatigue – led to British Columbians exploring the province, the place we all live, literally like never before.

There were serious concerns about overcrowding on beaches and on the roadways in the Cultus Lake area in late July, and other easily accessible hot spots were burning up with visitors.

• READ MORE: Temporary solution found for illegal parking at Cultus Lake

This past Sunday I woke up and suggested to the family we go “early-ish” to one of the best local family friendly hikes, Lindeman Lake in the Chilliwack River Valley (CRV). Sunday delays such as pancakes and eggs, meant we left a little before noon driving past more vehicles/campers/human beings than I have ever seen in the CRV.

“This was a bad idea,” I, Captain Obvious, suggest to my wife, not far from Lindeman.

I found a place to park 500 metres from the trailhead along Chilliwack Lake Road along with about 300 other vehicles. Very quickly we did some math. Given the hordes of people present and what we knew of the narrow Lindeman trail and, ahem, living in a global pandemic, we changed plans. We took a right turn just past the massive outhouse lineup and instead hiked 2.5 kilometres up towards Flora Lake, turning around when granola bars and wine gums could lure the children no further.

Not including us, we saw 10 people on this portion of the Flora Lake hike.

Posted by Paul Henderson on Monday, September 7, 2020

Here’s some admittedly dubious math based on a few estimates on the Lindeman Lake trail: There were 60 cars in the parking lot and, when we left, I estimate 280 cars lining the road. So that’s 340 vehicles.

There were very few couples, many large groups, some came in multiple vehicles, but I think a conservative guess is three people per vehicle. Three times 340 is 1,020. Of that, there were 50 people on all of Flora.

That means at about 3 p.m. on Sept. 6, 2020, there were close to 1,000 people on a popular hike that is, in most places, narrower than a grocery store aisle. Deduct 200 or so ambitious people who maybe went past Lindeman to Greendrop Lake (highly doubtful, these were not ambitious hikers for the most part), and that means 800 people were hiking up and down 1,600 metres of trail at that moment.

That’s one person every two metres. How do you think the physical distancing went on Labour Day weekend Sunday at Lindeman Lake?

I’m not judging anyone, heck, my family was there too, albeit abandoning the Lindeman hike when we realized what was happening.

And at least these people were outside, not in a mall, or crowded in restaurants or banquet halls, which are causing the problems. It was good for them to get out of Richmond and Burnaby and Surrey (assuming that’s where they were all from, based on an unscientific examinaiton of licence-plate holders).

This was the last gasp of summer, so it’s not likely to be repeated, but I’m sure trails across the Lower Mainland were packed on the Labour Day long weekend.

As a local, it was just shocking to see so many people in our backyard, and so many amid a pandemic.

As you drive out of the CRV on the back side of the “Chilliwack River Valley” sign (the front side that says “Leave only footprints, take only memories”) there is an interesting message. It’s not easy to see because of overgrowth, but the message is this: “Wasn’t it beautiful? Shhh… Don’t tell anyone!”

Maybe Tourism BC needs a new motto: “British Columbia sure is beautiful, but… you wouldn’t like it.”


Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

@PeeJayAitch
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Traffic and parked cars on Chilliwack Lake Road near the Lindeman Lake parking lot on Sept. 7, 2020. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)

Traffic and parked cars on Chilliwack Lake Road near the Lindeman Lake parking lot on Sept. 7, 2020. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)

The sign greeting visitors to the Chilliwack River Valley. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)

The sign greeting visitors to the Chilliwack River Valley. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)

Just Posted

Dallas Lajimodiere is wanted by the Abbotsford Police Department.
Man wanted by Abbotsford Police domestic violence unit

Dallas Lajimodiere has three arrest warrants, including for assault with a weapon

Russell Jonathon George Gurney was last seen in Chilliwack in mid-December. (RCMP photo)
RCMP ask for help to find missing Abbotsford man last seen in Chilliwack

Police and family are concerned for the well-being of Russell Jonathon George Gurney

Grade 6 students at Eugene Reimer Middle School have been participating in the Equity Backpack Project. (Submitted photo)
Equity Backpack Project in Abbotsford addresses inclusion and anti-racism

Grade 6 teacher Nerlap Sidhu says she wants students to develop ‘strong sense of self’

The UFV Cascades women’s basketball program has announced the signing of Langley’s Esther Allison and Edmonton’s Charley Arnold for 2021. (UFV Cascades photo)
Langley’s Allison, Edmonton’s Arnold signed by UFV Cascades

Women’s basketball program adds pair of recruits for 2021, reporting to Abbotsford later this year

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

Vancouver Canucks’ Travis Hamonic grabs Montreal Canadiens’ Josh Anderson by the face during first period NHL action in Vancouver, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horvat scores winner as Canucks dump Habs 6-5 in shootout thriller

Vancouver and Montreal clash again Thursday night

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Webber died in a marine accident in 2019. He was a Canadian Junior BMX champion from Nanaimo. (Submitted)
Inadequate safety training a factor in teen BMX star’s workplace death in 2019

Aidan Webber was crushed by a barge at a fish farm near Port Hardy

Southern resident killer whales in B.C. waters. Research shows the population’s females are more negatively influenced by vessel traffic than males. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Female orcas less likely to feed in presence of vessel traffic: study

Research the southern resident population raises concerns over reproduction capacity

(Black Press Media files)
Transport Canada not budging on enclosed deck rules, despite calls from BC Ferries union

There have been at least 23 cases of the U.K. variant detected in Canada, four of which are in B.C.

The Elk Valley Hospital is adapting to meet the needs of patients in the Elk Valley.
1-in-5 COVID tests coming back positive in and around Fernie, sparking concern

Dr Ron Clark of Elk Valley Hospital said one in five tests was returning positive for COVID-19

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Ralliers gather in front of the Cityviews Village apartment building in Maple Ridge to protest attempts to evict low-income tenants by the building owner. (Ronan O’Doherty - The News)
Tenants protest pressure tactics by new landlord at Maple Ridge apartment building

Protest held in front of Cityviews Village on 223 St. Tuesday to rally against low-income evictions

Most Read