Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Eves Park

Reflections in pond, Eves Park

It is less than a ten minute drive away, and I’ve passed it at least a hundred times on my way to the SPCA. I once followed the sign along the lane a few hundred metres, but wasn’t sure where I was going or where I should park so abandoned the impromptu stop. I’d heard it was hilly, not dog friendly, and I didn’t know anyone who went there often.

And so it has taken me almost three years to get around to exploring one of the Cowichan Valley’s best kept secrets: Eves Park. It is a 45 acre, Class C Provincial Park (meaning it was donated to the province but is managed by a volunteer board and receives no government funding), gifted to BC in 1961 by Janet Goodall. Last Friday, my friend and co-writer Liz and I took our dogs Sasha and Eddie for a walk in the park, seeking fodder for Crofton Corner, our column in the Chemainus Courier.

Liz and Sasha check out the Park Information Board

And no, there isn’t supposed to be an apostrophe in ‘Eves’. The park was named in memory of the donor’s father, the Rev. James Eaves. According to T.W. Paterson, author of “A Place Called Cowichan” (Firgrove Publishing, 2005), by the time anyone realized the province had misspelled the name, “all the expensive signage had been done, so Ms. Goodall graciously told them to go ahead with Eves.”

Technically, the park is in the community of Westholme in the District of North Cowichan, not in Crofton. It is on the western slope of Mount Richards – on the flip side from Crofton Lake, the trail to which starts at the end of my road. Unfortunately, one can’t get to Eves Park from Crofton Lake without trespassing on private land.

At one time, however, there was a railway line which connected the two – part of a system bringing copper from Sicker Mountain to the west, across Mount Richards, and down to the smelter in Crofton – a smelter once located right across from my house, but long since gone.

Red and black line shows where the railway used to go

An information board provides history and photos of the early years in this area

Liz, Sasha and Eddie check out a small section of track,
left as a symbolic reminder of the park's history.

Today, the park boasts a nature house, well marked trails, information boards and picnic facilities, and yet it has remained true to its rustic nature, a protected wilderness environment of old growth forest, moss-covered stony bluffs, and natural waterways.

A gentle reminder of earth's biodiversity

Eddie on a mossy bluff
Liz checks out the old growth forest
View from the west bluff.  In the distance is the
Trans Canada Hwy, against the backdrop of
Mt. Sicker.

This huge old broadleaf maple tree, one of the few deciduous trees
in the park, may look dead now, but the sign tells us its
branches will have a half acre of leaf surface come summer. 
 The day we visited, spring flowers were just starting to pop out everywhere, wee toadstools covered the ground, eagles and ravens soared overhead, and several trees showed signs of bear or cougar activity.


Indian Plum
Toadstools on a mossy bluff
Fawn Lily

More toadstools - I think - or are they mushrooms?

Liz and Sasha look skyward at the sound of a raven calling.

Signs explain the claw marks on trees
Inside of a bear tree
Recent bear or cougar activity
On-leash dogs are permitted in the park. I confess we let ours off leash a couple of times when the moss covered rocks and steeper sections of wet duff-covered trails threatened to send us head over teakettle unless we dropped the leashes and used our hands and poles to keep from falling. We also met a neighbour of the park walking his dog Zena off leash. Zena stole my heart – a lovely and lumpy old dog complete with happy grin, waggles, wrinkles, and all.

Eddie meets Zena
A lovely old face

There were more bluffs and a cave we've yet to explore.  I loved the park, and will go back often. And it was made all the more pleasurable by watching Eddie conquer one of his biggest fears – stairs. Without hesitation, he bunny-hopped all the way up this long steep winding stairway. I was so surprised, I didn’t even get a picture of him climbing his Mount Everest.

Eddie's Mount Everest

Sasha shows us how it's done.
The End.


georgia little pea said...

I love all those signs! Is it quite dangerous then, to walk in this park, with the cougars and bears about?

You certainly know your plants. Did you study them or are you just an avid gardener? I've been trying my best to pot more flowering plants the last couple of days and hopefully will pick up a few more over the long weekend. The ones I planted just a couple of weeks back are already looking sad and mouldy :( I need COLOUR!

Have a great Easter! :) x

Jean said...

GLP, although we saw three or four freshly scratched trees, the bears tend to stay over the other side of the creek on the slopes of the uninhabited section of mountain, and I've not heard of any bear incidents in our region though I've certainly seen a few. Cougars similarly are sometimes sighted but rarely cause trouble. I've not seen any in my three years here.
Most wildlife will run in the other direction at the sound/sight/smell of humans. Staying on the trails, hiking (and talking) with a buddy, and being alert for bears around berries and fish streams will reduce the likelihood of an encounter. I've hiked and camped over much of southwestern BC over the past fifty years or more, and I'm still here to talk about it.

As for plants, I'm definitely no avid gardener and just picked up the little I know from fellow hikers and walkers!

Happy Easter - I hope the Easter Bunny brings Georgia something tasty.

Black Jack's Carol said...

Very interesting post, Jean, and I really love the perspective in your first photograph. That one, and lovely Zena were my two favourites of many fine pictures. Yay for Eddie conquering his fear of stairs! (I am impressed with your knowledge of plants. I don't know why I find it so much easier to remember bird names than I do plant names. I suspect it is because there are fewer to remember.)

Funder said...

What a beautiful park! The switchbacks on that rail line are AMAZING. Yay for a successful day!

Anonymous said...

so nice and interesting to learn about these nearby parks.
especially with dogs ... the more parks to know about the better!
I had a little rescue /kennel dog who didn't know stairs either.... like Eddie- one day she forgot her fear and up she went.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting post - informative and scenic. I enjoyed it all!

Delighted to hear Eddie made it up those stairs :-)


Darrell O said...

Finally found this park today, tried a few years ago but don't recall any signage and the road looked more like a private driveway.

We've been looking for somewhere to walk our dog that people obey leash laws. Our dog is elderly and doesn't look very formidable but if any off-leash dog shows any aggression towards it then it's in big trouble. I'm so weary of pulling these uncontrolled dogs out of her mouth.

greenman said...

My family and I used to visit Eves Park when we lived In Cowichan Bay and almost never saw another person there. The paths and well maintained and the signage is a nice touch to inform and help protect the flora & fauna.
It is a wonderful little gem that is not well known even to locals.
I commend the volunteers who look after it and thank them for their work and diligence.