Traffic and parked cars on Chilliwack Lake Road near the Lindeman Lake parking lot on Sept. 7, 2020. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)

OPINION: Beautiful B.C. – Isn’t it great? Shhh… Don’t tell anyone!

Huge numbers flocked to popular Chilliwack River Valley on Labour Day weekend

Early on in this pandemic, people were cooped up, many in a state approximating lockdown, and we were all going outside less and less often.

As the months wore on, the repeated advice from health experts switched to: Get outside, get exercise, get fresh air.

In recent months, that advice on being outside combined with restrictions on international and even inter-provincial travel – along with a dash of COVID-19 fatigue – led to British Columbians exploring the province, the place we all live, literally like never before.

There were serious concerns about overcrowding on beaches and on the roadways in the Cultus Lake area in late July, and other easily accessible hot spots were burning up with visitors.

• READ MORE: Temporary solution found for illegal parking at Cultus Lake

This past Sunday I woke up and suggested to the family we go “early-ish” to one of the best local family friendly hikes, Lindeman Lake in the Chilliwack River Valley (CRV). Sunday delays such as pancakes and eggs, meant we left a little before noon driving past more vehicles/campers/human beings than I have ever seen in the CRV.

“This was a bad idea,” I, Captain Obvious, suggest to my wife, not far from Lindeman.

I found a place to park 500 metres from the trailhead along Chilliwack Lake Road along with about 300 other vehicles. Very quickly we did some math. Given the hordes of people present and what we knew of the narrow Lindeman trail and, ahem, living in a global pandemic, we changed plans. We took a right turn just past the massive outhouse lineup and instead hiked 2.5 kilometres up towards Flora Lake, turning around when granola bars and wine gums could lure the children no further.

Not including us, we saw 10 people on this portion of the Flora Lake hike.

Posted by Paul Henderson on Monday, September 7, 2020

Here’s some admittedly dubious math based on a few estimates on the Lindeman Lake trail: There were 60 cars in the parking lot and, when we left, I estimate 280 cars lining the road. So that’s 340 vehicles.

There were very few couples, many large groups, some came in multiple vehicles, but I think a conservative guess is three people per vehicle. Three times 340 is 1,020. Of that, there were 50 people on all of Flora.

That means at about 3 p.m. on Sept. 6, 2020, there were close to 1,000 people on a popular hike that is, in most places, narrower than a grocery store aisle. Deduct 200 or so ambitious people who maybe went past Lindeman to Greendrop Lake (highly doubtful, these were not ambitious hikers for the most part), and that means 800 people were hiking up and down 1,600 metres of trail at that moment.

Paul Henderson is the editor of the Chilliwack Progress.

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