By: Kelly Chia, Staff Writer
I’ve never hiked and living in BC makes this feel like a waste. I always admired Instagram photos from afar, but was too scared to give it a shot. I worried about all sorts of things: heights, the cost of hiking boots, and how “easy” an easy hike would be. Recently, I found Minnekhada Park, a two hour trail in Port Coquitlam that weaves its way through Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge. I didn’t know what to expect of the 4.7 km hike but knowing all new adventures warrant a buddy, I asked a friend to accompany me.
On a mid-October evening, wearing comfortable clothes and sneakers, I approached the trail. My friend wore hiking boots, which proved to be useful as some parts of the trail were muddy and slippery from rain. The beginning of the trail was marked with a map of different routes to take and caution signs for bears in the area. The sign cautioned guests to leash any dogs, and to stay calm and back away from any bears on the path.
Since we wanted to get a good view of the upper and lower marshes, we took the High Knoll path, which would take us about two hours to finish.
Before we started walking, we texted our emergency contacts to let them know which path we were taking, and what time we expected to leave. Our cell reception faded as we hiked, so this turned out to be a good precaution. We also made sure to chat at a decent volume to drive bears away while we walked.
The path started with an easygoing, smooth trail littered with autumn leaves. It was peaceful watching trees of various shades of green and orange blend into each other. My friend pointed out that some trees were nursing trees — newer trees growing out of older ones. We began our hike around 4:00 p.m., so there was plenty of daylight to wade through the leaves and admire our surroundings. We admired everything, from the sloping hill tops crested with pine trees to the vibrant ferns that feathered us as we walked past.
About 40 minutes in, signs informed us that our path would get steeper and more uneven. And boy, did it get steeper. We didn’t read the part of the brochure that said the hike would have a near 200 ft. elevation gain!
The walk was still manageable, but it had broken up into tree roots and rocks to climb. I say climb, because I’d sometimes go on all fours to get a bit lower to the ground, but that was more for my peace of mind than anything. Some of the steps became slippery as it started to rain, but not enough to make our walk dangerous. Inevitably, the path went down. My brave friend went ahead of me to stake out which tree roots could be stable footholds. I mouthed “thank you” to the tree roots that had formed into steps while I crawled across them.
Then, it was just a matter of making it back to the start. The path was still rocky, but more approachable than the middle of the hike had been. We grinned when we saw the parking lot, knowing we had made it all the way around.
My friend and I were awed by the things we saw, and were thoroughly humbled by this “easy” hike, which was more challenging than we expected. Even then, I could see the charm of hiking. Being within the trees is comforting and sublime, especially in the fall, when the ground looks like it’s decorated in gold.
If you are also looking to hike for the first time and you aren’t sure where to start, Minnekhada Park is a beautiful and relatively approachable walk. I’d recommend going when it’s not projected to rain to avoid run-off water from the rain along the steeper parts of the trail.