The weather so far this January has been, well, very January. A period of rain, followed by a period of snow, followed by another period of rain. However, yesterday morning the only thing falling from the sky were glorious rays of sunshine ! I ensured Mojo and I got out to soak up some vitamin D.
The Alouette River Dykes walk is a reasonably lengthy but easy walk as the name suggests alongside the Alouette River in Pitt Meadows, a few kilometres south of Pitt Lake. We had considered doing it a week or so ago but on that day the air temperature was –7 with a wind chill of –15 and knowing how the wind can blow over the flat farmland decided life was too short to get that cold deliberately. Yesterday however was a lovely +7 and the wind gusts were invigorating rather than bone chilling.
The walk starts from the parking lot on Harris Road, where it crosses the Alouette River. Views here from that point.
The view towards Golden Ears Provincial Park.
While we are bathed in sunshine many of the local peaks are shrouded in cloud.
There was endless stick fetching, although from previous experience I remembered to bring a couple of sticks from home for this walk….they don’t grow trees properly in Pitt Meadows and all you get are little twigs.
He also enjoys the first of several swim opportunities, there are various points along the walk where dogs can get down to the river.
The city of Pitt Meadows and to an extent it neighbour, Maple Ridge were both built on predominately marshland which was drained and farmed in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. While they have preserved great swathes of the original marsh in the Pitt-Addington Nature Preserve nearer Pitt Lake the rest of the marsh is within city limits and developed as such as farmland and residential areas. The two cities have also worked together to create an extensive network of trails along the river dykes not only on the Alouette River but also along Pitt River and the Fraser River. While I can’t find the actual number there must be over 100km of riverside trails. Some, like this section are maintained to the extent that they have gravel surface and allow bikes, strollers etc while others are left more natural with grassy tops and allow equestrian use and so on.
Like the rest of the Fraser Valley, the fertile land is rigorously farmed and although blueberries are the crop of choice for many farmers here in Pitt Meadows, this particular small holding is a shrub/tree farm.
When the clouds lift a little, there’s a very visible snowline.
This blueberry farm looks more like a paddy field with all the precipitation we’ve had in the last few weeks.
We are lucky to be in such lovely sun, there appears to be rain or snow in the distance over Pitt Lake.
The farmers will be pleased that the irrigation canals are full.
Mojo leads the way….it’s funny how dogs always seem to know where they’re going, even when it’s their first time. Mojo has only been on this walk once before, in the opposite direction. He has never been this way around the dykes system before but still knew where we were headed at each turn.
Views North-East towards Golden Ears over the blueberry fields.
Some sections of the walk pass through undeveloped areas of marsh which still attract a lot of wildlife. Last time I walked here we saw coyote and this time for a 1km or so section of the route we were inundated with blue heron. There were loads of them – at one point I counted 11 within easy sight. It must be a good time of year to see them.
It was much clearer to the naked eye and doesn’t show well with my simple point-and-shoot camera, but if you look closely you can see 5 heron on this side of the canal, one on the opposite side and one just flying off.
Another section of marsh with 6 blue heron
I can think of worse places to be a farmer, and wake up to these views each day !
The Alouette River Loop in this direction initially takes us along the North side of the main Alouette River, before it forks and becomes the North & South Alouette Rivers. The North Alouette River is fed by the mountains in Golden Ears Provincial Park while the South Alouette River is fed by outflow from Alouette Lake. The loop takes us along the North side of the North river, across and back along the inside of the ‘Y’ fork, and across the South river. Our final leg is then returning along the south side of the South river.
As we return along the South side we see horse riders along the section of dyke on the opposite side where we had previously walked.
Mojo is allowed his final dip in the water, calculated to hopefully be enough time to dry before getting back in the car !
Then a last view of the Alouette Rivers where they merge and the mountains in the background before we return to the car. A reasonably long walk of just under 15km, so Mojo ran his little legs off and snoozed for the rest of the day ! While the terrain is not at all challenging and perhaps a little monotonous with no elevation change it is a bright and exposed walk, great for a winters day.