Kind of embarrassing –after moving to Vancouver over 18 years ago, we finally visited 2 local municipal parks with temperate rainforests, for our first time a few months ago.
For many years, I biked right by Pacific Spirit Regional Park near the University of British Columbia. Park edge was sometimes within a metre from the road, depending which bike route I took. Just clueless.
Also from cycling through Stanley Park, we already know of soaring old growth giant trees there. However only recently, we’ve wandered deeper into this park by Beaver Lake, on well-trodden shady wood trails with tree bark moist with green moss, fallen majestic reddish tree trunks and damp, living soil of fallen leaf clumps, nature’s debris.
Pacific Spirit Regional Park — Local Favourite Haunt
For our afternoon easy hike, we didn’t cycle to Pacific Spirit Regional park. After getting off a transit bus, we entered into the park after 5 min. of walking.
Pacific Spirit Regional Park is very much a fabulous local park. There are joggers splashing through rain-soaked, mud-slick trails, teenager cliques and local dog-walkers (which annoys joggers and cyclists). However, for northern temperate rainforest newbies, there are some unique micro-ecosystems.
Camosun Bog- 14 Different Types of Moss
On the map, Camosun Bog sounds like yawning bore. We went there, in hopes of seeing some birds. We didn’t know what to expect. We saw some black-capped chickadees twittering about and a tiny yellow-rumped warbler hopping discreetly among thick bog moss. Camosun Bog has centuries-long sacred spot for local Musqueam First Nations group who harvested wild blueberries, cranberries, cloudberries and Labrador tea.
Since 1995, the bog has been restored and preserved as a rare temperate forest mini ecosystem. Below the wooden boardwalk, the bog includes thick round humps and clumps of sphagum moss varieties growing over rocks and wet soil.
The bog glows brilliant, lusciously green. The different types of moss there is thick, luxuriant and comfy for insects, tiny birds, Pacific tree frog and other creatures to hide. There are 14 varieties of sphagnum moss in this bog and park.
Protective Qualities of Sphagnum Moss
The Musqueam First Nations and other native Indian groups have used sphagnum moss for treating wounds, personal hygiene (for periods) and baby care since the moss acts as sponge to soak up pus, blood and water. Depending on the moss type, sphagnum moss has been used to fill canoe holes, pillows, mattresses and as moisture for cooking. It can act as a natural preservative to slow down natural decay.
The construction of the Golden Ears Bridge and highway approaches, where I worked in suburbs of Vancouver, our work site did include part of traditional native land. During construction, an archaeological team had to be brought in the uncover some well-preserved hunting and fishing implements over 2,000 years old since they are left covered by the moist mossy bog soil in the area.
While raving over brilliant green, centuries old moss gardens in some Kyoto gardens in Japan, little was I even aware of local mosses, even more wildly abundant back in Canada.
We strolled back on the perimeter of the park which bordered a wealthy neighbourhood. Lucky them to be close to this centuries old sanctum. We plan to return to bask in different seasons, light and dew.