The Central Valley Watershed

I took a running lunch break today and ran over to the Deer Lake trails and back. It’s about a mile there, a little more than a mile at the park (though I could run for longer if I had time), and a mile back. Just about a 3.3 mile run. I wanted to go further even than I did but am tied to one hour for lunch and needed time to shower and change afterward. Today it is cooler than it has been, only 19C (66F) now, but it’s sunny and the humidity is almost 80%. I’m still sweating! Last night we actually fell asleep to a very rare thunderstorm and the smell of sweet rain. I suppose there was a clash with the hotter weather and a cooler front, but  it will begin to warm back up in a couple days.

I once read something by Gary Snyder (Grandmother Wisdom, I think it was), which encouraged us to learn about our physical surroundings. I’ve always been cognizant of this as I run and place myself according to what’s around me–the geography and watersheds and wildlife. I’m not sure if the watershed around Deer Lake (including the lake, its surrounding marshes, Beaver Creek, Burnaby Lake, Brunette River) is officially called “Central Valley Watershed,” but that’s what the sign on the park entrance said. I think it’s also called the Brunette Valley Watershed. The Deer Lake stream is 1K and flows from Deer Lake to Burnaby Lake. A big watershed map of the whole area is here. If you zoom in and find Deer Lake, that is around the area I ran today. I didn’t quite make it to the lake, however. I just didn’t have time, though exploring further than normal I did see it in the distance.

The Deer Lake trails are home to various migratory birds and other fish and wildlife. There’s still a sign up saying that a cougar has been spotted living in the area. Around the lake and other water areas are white lilies, weeping willows, herons, and geese. Habitat restoration for species at risk (like the western painted turtles) was proposed in 2012 due to the Highway 1 expansion. There are also invasive American bullfrogs and red-eared sliders. I still remember seeing lots of slider turtles at Mundy Lake a few years ago. Morgan and I went hiking in the hot weather while female turtles laid their eggs right near the trail, in the sun.

It’s really interesting reading about the history of the area. Coast Salish peoples resided here for thousands of years, and the watershed was big for cranberry harvesting and hunting elk and other big game (Ministry of Environment). Riparian cover includes (or has in the past) red alder, western red cedar, Douglas fir, English holly, Red-Osier dogwood, vine maple, willow, English ivy, and bulrush. Fish include coho salmon, cutthroat trout, prickly sculpin, rainbow trout, brown bullhead, carp, yellow perch, and threespine stickleback.

I enter the trails near Deer Lake Park Road and Royal Oak. I usually have just enough time to run the straight-thru path for some distance (which also leads to the lake), but today turned onto the path heading south instead. I noticed an older woman walking her dog in a meadow, and ran over a small footbridge leading to that area, but then noticed it was just a clearing, not another path. I continued back on the trail to another trail, where I turned left and kept going for a while. I could see Deer Lake in the distance but already by that time figured it was time to head back. I wasn’t sure this other path led to the lake. The mountains were glorious beneath the sunshine, sprinkled with snow still.

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I think these might be bluebells.
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Reeds in the meadow.
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Deer Lake with snow-peaked mountains in the background. This is a blurry zoom-in, and I couldn’t see from here how far the lake actually was.
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Path leading back from Deer Lake–alas I always have to turn around and go back to work at some point!

It was a very nice run, and though I saw the occasional runner or walker, for much of the run I could not see anyone else around, especially when I ran toward the lake.