Friday, February 15, 2013

Spectacle Lake 'Accessible' trail (isn't) but great green of nature

Just down the road and up the mountain, Linda wanted to take me to Spectacle Lake, as she had heard it was a 2 km ‘Wheelchair Accessible’ trail. We had high hopes.

It was overcast, as seems standard the last few months, with snow on the sides of the trail and ice on the lake.

We parked in the gravel and stone parking lot and followed the old road to a boat launch, fishing and picnic area, once you climbed down the long slope of exposed bedrock. It was not wheelchair accessible. The picnic tables were at the bottom of the climb down from the bedrock.

But the road was wide, and lead to a nice overlook of the lake (covered in ice). Linda is on the bedrock overlooking the lake, with crows were nesting in the trees across. As you can see, this outlook, going out past bedrock, is not accessible either.

But the trail was still good and trees, second and third growth thick, had branches covered in moss, creating a green overhang and surrounding ever green to walk or wheel through.

Twice in the first kilometer there were bridges. One had arm rests on both sides, while this one, with an impressive downhill leading to it, and steeper uphill leading away had the left side exposed encouraging careful wheeling

Along the way ‘nursery trees’ had fallen, perhaps twenty to fifty years ago, in some cases leaving almost no wood, while a more recent fall like this was covered with tiny ferns (use the leaf to compare), already breaking down the hard wood.

We continued but as each tenth of a kilometer went on, the narrower and more up and down the trail became, with roots, then rocks as obstacles. After the first kilometer I should have turned back, but I didn’t, convincing myself it would get better.

Soon there were vertical gaps, rocks to step up and even more elevation gain before a brief rest: though now we were half way up the trunk height of the trees. Yes, that six inches wide of non-moss covered sharp rock edges is 'trail'. Woah, look at those trees ENTIRELY below us now: Some elevation gain.

I kept on until I couldn’t keep on anymore. And though it might have been only .3 or .4 of a kilometer to go, there was no choice but to go back the way already come. The only advantage was knowing that the path was going to get wider and easier as we backtracked.

It was nice….till it turned into a sinktrap. Was Linda’s info wrong? No. The official site states: “ easy hiking trail that winds around the lake for more than 2 kilometers. Much of this trail system is wheelchair accessible.” As the trail goes in a circle, ‘much’ isn’t good enough. I would charitably say that ‘some’ of the trail is wheelchair accessible, perhaps .9 out of 2.2 km. For example, see the roots and trail narrowing every few feet to inches? This is on the 'really good' and 'easy' .5 km of the trail. For manual or power chair, that is not 'easy', unless you have an ATV for a powerchair. In the USA, land of the Disability Act, the National Park would label this as 'inaccessible' - as the do for Hoh's Hall of Moss'.

Spectacle Lake is not an ‘easy’ trail but 'medium'. I would not recommend the trail for those with heart problems, RA, MS, and advise caution for those using prosthetics. The trail is not graded or filled. It was covered with snow in parts. Parts require balancing on one leg with full body lift of up to 1.5 feet, often on wet rock. It is popular with joggers as it is short and gives a strong cardio workout.

The trail is not currently accessible for more than the first third of the 2.2 km, nor are the facilities accessible. I wish, for world disability day or ‘recognition of Canadian Human Rights Day’ for the Premier, the head of Parks BC, and the local mayor to sit in those hospital transfer wheelchairs with plastic wheels (the ones they always seem to get into for photo ops during fundraisers or for promoting wheelchair sports) and enjoy this ‘accessible’ trail.

Perhaps then they could figure out the problem with having a circle trail around a lake where ‘much’ of the trail can be used (like the M25 where ‘much’ of it does not have traffic cones reducing lanes and creating eight, twelve or twenty hour gridlock).


Tanya Schiefer said...

Well Liz:
It seems at least we are not dead yet. I get the feeling you are going before me, but then, you never know, one of my uti infections might take over and I´ll be waiting for you on the other side.

Elizabeth McClung said...

Tanya: Not dead yet is usually preferred. I do until I don't or can't - same with you? I never knew UTI could be so lethal: I drink cranberry every day to deal with any that arise as I feel nada from about sternum down generally.

Tanya Schiefer said...

UTIs can be deadly, for starters, as you know, they kill the kidneys, so your blood becomes poisonous. On the other hand, if the infection gets into your bloodstream and you get septic shock, then your gone in a few hours.

Elizabeth McClung said...

Tanya: Yes, I had a friend with a kidney infection due to long term UTI infection. But that is the trifecta of absence of care: UTI untreated becomes kidney infection untreated can become septis. Honestly, a drain of the body systems like the flu on a compromised system in a degenerative disease is more likely to lead to kidney compromise - eventually the human battery can't keep everything charged... and kidneys are front line. Dunno what this has to do with wheelchairs, dirt and and green moss though

Kate J said...

When I started to read this post I thought Wow! How great that you were able to get to such a wonderful place, and that it was accessible to people using wheelchairs... and then I read on to where you couldn't actually get along the trail. How disappointing for you, and it could have led to you being injured or stranded there too. Such a shame that a place was labelled as accessible if it wasn't. But at least you got out into the forest and saw some beautiful trees and mosses, and had some fresh air. I do hope it raised your spirits somewhat and that you and Linda enjoyed being there.
I've just had a good day out too, we were organising a birdwatching walk at the Botanic Garden and I got a really great view of a kingfisher on the lake, it was perched on a dead branch and kept perfectly still for several minutes. So beautiful! I wish you could have seen it!
Love & peace

Anonymous said...

Cheryl here ...

I don't think Parks BC really understands what accessible means. I am glad you were able to go out and enjoy some of the park.

Tanya Schiefer said...

Hi Liz, it has to do with the fact that on your last post you talked about dying, and in this next one, I see pictures of such beautiful places. I am so happy that even as we are near death, you still have the possibility of enjoying the beauty of nature. How lucky that even in such tough times, you have this beautiful chance of living this experience. I hope you (and me) get more chances, because the world is such a beautiful place and seeing it is just wonderful, specially with this heightened ability to enjoy it so much. The wind, the smells, the colors of nature, so many things to take in and remember to get us through tough times.
I wish you more trips to the outdoors (just hope there are some really accesible ones) and that you still have time to enjoy life.
Then, we will go to our next adventure, which is completely unknown.

Tina Russell said...

Wow, those are really beautiful pictures. I’m glad you were able to have some fun despite the trail’s false advertising.

Anonymous said...

Dearest blogger friend: Hmmm, a trail accessible to able-bodied people with hiking staffs. At least they cut a path through that downed tree!

You live near some awesome scenery, me luv! I am definitely envious.

On the home front, I have a new job which requires that I have transportation to go to meetings in other City facilities. SO we've had to buy a car. The job is full-time and makes me a permanent employee, so I get three weeks of paid vacation by the end of the year. Except that the increased deductions mean I don't take home much more than I did as a casual, and I have car payments that will last until after I am forced to retire. And have to pay about $150 per month for gas. This will make it difficult to save enough to travel for holidays, but I'll get a bit of a raise in a year, and that will help.

I just wish I could have gotten this job three or four years ago; then I might have been able to meet you in person. Oh well, what happens will happen. For now, I will have to be satisfied knowing you were not dead three day ago.

Love and zen hugs,

Elizabeth McClung said...

Neil: Thanks. I took the trip the week before, then had a degeneration, which I haven't recovered from - but not dead yet, eh?

Sorry about the good news/bads news regarding the job. Perhaps some of the jobs costs regarding the car can be tax deducted? Dunno. At least with a permanent position, you have more job security and paid vacation and sick days, yes?

Tina: I got great pics, but it was a bit like invasions of Russia - the first part was good, the retreat was disaster. But.....nice pics (and I thought I should do a review of so others are not caught and tricked as I was).

Cheryl: I agree - I think everyone is so buff and athletic here that they don't get that an 'easy' trail should mean a place you can take your grandparents.

Kate: I am envious of you seeing the kingfisher - all I saw that day was a crow. It had some good pics, but ended up costing a lot on my physically - but very green, even with the snow and the ice. The area hasn't been logged since the 1940's.

Devi said...

What an amazing place! (Aside from not being actually accessible, I mean.) Those trees with the moss covering look like long-lost Ent princesses or something.

Anonymous said...

lovely spot Im just grieved it cost you a trip thru hell to get there- adventures in accessibility strike again- hopefully you dont pay too high a price..

Anonymous said...

Re: Sick days: I had 120 days built up as a casual - so many that they wouldn't allow me to accumulate more. But with the new position, I lose them all and start over. Likewise, though I've been with the same employer for 30 years as a casual, I still start at three weeks' vacation, because I was being paid vacation pay on each cheque.

I don't think I can claim the car as a tax deduction, but I'll sure try! I COULD claim the bus passes I was using in the fall; if I had known that, I would have saved the receipts. :( It's weird that one can claim public transport as a deduction, though I wasn't allowed to buy a bus pass as a casual; that's only for permanents, who often need a car for work. Go figure.

I enjoy the job, and I still keep in touch with my wonderful former supervisor who retired over three years ago and is now in Chile for a holiday. And I am able to work, and have the ability to drive, so I'll not complain.

Love and zen hugs,