www.2flat.net | November 2, 2012
History of the North Shore
There are formidable fossils in these hills. Backbones of giants and skeletons of beasts lie on the forest floor slowly being consumed by the forest as decay and neglect set in. They are the decrepit remains of once mighty monsters that delighted and terrified the local inhabitants in equal measure.
They came from seed and grew to titans until one day when man or wind turned their heavenly ascent into a short lifetime of lying prostrate. Appropriated and roughly fabricated they were reincarnated as contraptions upon which mortal men would test their capacity to balance on the thin edge between disaster and triumph. Now they slowly die again and become part of the natural cycle of the forest once more.
The North Shore mountains have seen many cycles already and the rainforest barely registers the more recent activities of man under its canopy.
The mighty cedars that once dominated the North Shore mountains once grew to magnificent giants, some 300 feet tall, until land was cheap and wood was valued high. In the later half of the 19th century and for nearly the next one hundred years the North Vancouver was extensively logged as demand for building materials rose dramatically as ships building, railway lines, and housing boomed. The tearing of saws and razor edged thumping of axes took down the hulking trunks. The canopy was torn further back like the lid on a tin can. All that remained was burnt out, hacked stumps and a littered floor of forestry cast offs piled upon each other in a jumble of timber. The towering rainforest columns that inhaled our waste and exhaled our life force were gone. Left open to the tireless Pacific storms rain battered the exposed slopes and washed the good soil downhill leaving just rock, wasting logs, and burn piles.
Eventually the forest regenerated, but the character was different. Hemlock, maple, fir and young cedar choke and crowd out much of the light. Deep duff coats the forest floor; a spongy matt of organic material made up mostly of the bits of tree that have shed. Log jams of rotting trees abound, thick roots lace through the matt and hunks of granite pierce through it all. The terrain is steep and haphazard, you can feel the sensation of claustrophobia and vertigo simultaneously.
It is dark, it is wet, and it is cluttered. No wonder then that when you stand amongst the soaring glass towers of downtown Vancouver and look north to the range of mountains that act as the opening drum beat of the Coast Mountain Range orchestra – Cypress most westerly, Grouse (or Fromme) Mountain centre stage and Seymour most easterly – all you can think is what a lovely backdrop the North Shore mountains give the city. It is even harder to imagine that just fifteen minutes from the bustle of the metropolis there is a labyrinth of mountain biking trails that somewhat redefined what was possible on a bicycle and are the birthplace and resting place of the most extraordinary, and frankly bizarre, environmental reinterpretations.
The history and legacy of trail building on the North Shore is remarkable. Arguably “The Shore” has inspired and evolved more aspects of mountain biking than any other area in the world. The progressive nature of trails that were being built on the North Shore of Vancouver have had a considerable and lasting impact mountain biking trends. These trails changed how we think bikes can be rode, they steered the technological direction of the sport, and they made it possible to grin because you just got away with it. Whatever it is.
While the sport of mountain biking can be somewhat fairly claimed to be invented in Marin Country, up the coast and across the border there were fat tire rumblings not long after. The hot spot above the 49th parallel was in a remote enclave of Vancouver called Deep Cove.
www.2flat.net | November 2, 2012