In the rush to get outside and enjoy brighter and longer days in Golden Ears Provincial Park, avid outdoors people sometimes forget the basics, such as paying attention to the signs posted along the way.
The signs warn motorists about the winter park hours that are still in effect until March 28.
On Saturday evening, those signs were missed or the closure times were forgotten, stranding about 30 visitors, when the gates swung closed at 5:30 p.m.
It happens every fall and spring time as people try to adjust to the change back and forth from daylight saving time, said Stu Burgess, with Alouette Park Management.
After daylight saving time kicked in March 11, people start wanting to enjoy the longer evenings, which means daylight lasts beyond 5:30 p.m. That is the time when the park closes during winter hours.
“Right after we started in October it happens, especially after the clocks change, then it happens again,” Burgess said.
“It’s clearly signed. If you’re going into any of the parking lots, you go past at least three signs that say gate closed at 5:30 p.m. They didn’t come out till after 5:30 p.m. so they got stuck for a while.”
Motorists didn’t have to wait too long. A park staffer was nearby and was just tied up with other chores before he could get to the gate to open it. He’d left a note telling people he’d be back.
“They weren’t trapped. There was a delay in getting our staff member who was trying to deal with lots of stuff going on.”
If people are trapped behind the gates at later hours, people can call an emergency number. That call is then relayed to one of three parks staffers who live nearby and who are on call and can get to the gate within 15 minutes.
After March 28, the park shifts to summer hours from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. During summer hours, the gate is staffed throughout the night, so that people can exit the park at any time.
The roads in the park are all open, though there is some slush in the parking lots.
During winter, or particularly bad weather, the park road can be closed whenever road conditions are unsafe – either because of heavy snow, black ice or rain or storms. Usually, that works out to the park being closed a couple of weeks each winter because there’s no budget for plowing the roads.
But the heavy snows of the winter of 2016 had the park closed for about two and a half months.