This is one of my little sanctuaries close to home. Doesn’t take much for a natural place to make a sanctuary. Even a vacant lot with some trees, grass and sparrows. Research tells us that stepping into any kind of natural setting (or amazingly, even viewing photos of nature) can do positive things to our bodies. Our blood pressure and heart rates drop. Anger, anxiety, stress and muscle tension ease. We breathe easier. We naturally slow down.
Burnaby Mountain is home to Simon Fraser University and one of the Lower Mainland’s biggest parks. Yet it’s a short drive for over a million people. The setting in these pictures is near Centennial Park, where acres of open land are interspersed with evergreens, maples, alder and cottonwood. Here you can find coyotes, deer, raccoons, black bears–and students from SFU trying to find a little solitude. The wild grounds support an abundance of bird life, including raptors like eagles, hawks and merlins. Migratory songbirds like to stop here; in spring and fall, bird watching can yield pleasant surprises.
Burnaby Mountain sits at an elevation of 366 meters, or 1,200 feet, so its slopes are snow-covered in winter a lot more often than the general Vancouver region. The open space in the top photo, with its steep grade, is a popular place for sledding and inner tubes – even though Burnaby Parks and Recreation doesn’t want you to have any winter fun there because…why, exactly?
Who are they kidding? These slopes are perfect for sledding! It’s no wonder they call this “No Fun City.”
Most days, though, you’ll find plenty of quiet and solitude with many trails and open places to walk quietly. The mountain often sits above the fog during inversions, making it a convenient place to find sunshine on those very grey winter days.