It was a really difficult climb, and I wasn’t sure I could keep putting one foot in front of the other to drag my body up the steep, rocky path.
But, suddenly, I’d reached the top, where I could stand and look down at Glacier Lake far, far below, shimmering turquoise in the summer sun.
All around it was pretty barren with rock cairns leading us on along the Rim Trail at an elevation of 2,600 metres in Cathedral Provincial Park in the southern Okanagan Valley.
We actually looked down on the tops of high mountain peaks miles away, but there wasn’t much time to contemplate
Nature because we had a lot of distance to cover and a lot of natural wonders to experience before suppertime back at the lodge below.
With its extraordinary rock formations, pristine alpine lakes and varied wildflowers and wildlife, it’s one of the province’s standout parks, but then so are so many others.
Each and every provincial park has its special natural feature—a waterfall, river, lake, mountain, trail, forest, beach, heritage building or ocean view that sets it apart.
The fact is, we have a lot of such natural beauties in this province, but we could easily have paved them all over and built on them, except for the foresight of some of the pioneers of the B.C. Parks system.
These were generally people with a background in management of forests and trees, because that’s where our unique parks system has its roots—forest management.
Those pioneers who had the vision to ensure some of this province’s special places were preserved for future generations; protected from development and un-natural change, deserve our eternal gratitude.
And, it’s turned out to be valuable in a way even they may not have envisioned.
Aside from being our lungs and our sanctuary, those special wild places now attract visitors from all over the world who come and leave behind their financial appreciation for the right to visit those provincial parks and view our natural wonders.
Tourism in B.C. is based on such natural beauty as is preserved in our parks.
And the pioneers who ensured such protection have handed on the torch to us to continue to keep that vision alive and well.
Now, we have a responsibility to maintain such places in all their natural beauty—not by adding commercial enterprises to them—but by paying back some of the money they provide for us through tourism and the health and educational benefits that accrue to us from our visits to those provincial parks.
As we celebrate the 100th anniversary of B.C.’s park system this year, and B.C. Park Day this Saturday, it would be a perfect opportunity to pledge to pay more attention to everyday maintenance for our parks, which have been sadly neglected of late.
Instead of chipping away at their budgets and chopping basic staff like park rangers, we must re-allocate funds now wasted on outrageous salaries, unnecessary severance packages, international parties, political promotion and silly studies to which no one even pays any attention afterwards.
It would be criminal if we continued to let our natural beauties—what B.C. is renowned for around the world—become tattered and threadbare, or to be eroded by commercial or industrial interests with the excuse that parks need to earn the money for their own upkeep.
Return B.C. Parks’ budgets to the levels necessary to provide proper upkeep and keep them shining so their admirers aren’t disappointed. We have a reputation to uphold, and a legacy to maintain.
That would be an anniversary present that showed respect for our elders.
As part of the Central Okanagan Naturalists’ Club’s pledge to offer 50 free public events to celebrate its 50th anniversary in the community, member Doreen Wierenga is leading a Discover Nature walk in the Rutland area on Saturday.
Those interested should bring lunch, water, a looney to cover insurance and wear suitable outdoor clothing and footwear. Pets should be left at home.
Meet in the front parking lot of Rutland Middle School, 715 Rutland Rd. at 10 a.m.
The destinations will include Chichester Wetland Park, Mill Creek Regional Park and the lower section of the Mission Creek Greenway.
The next week, Peter and Kitty Green will lead those interested in a look at the alpine flowers at Big White, meeting at the EECO at 9:30 a.m.
Judie Steeves writes about outdoors issues for the Capital News.