Posted by: pilgrm34 | September 12, 2011


On a whim, I change directions and decide the wilderness destination is West Hayden Island. Maybe a beach since it’s blistering hot. Only problem: it’s said to be non-accessible and I’ve never been past the gate. I want to see it for myself to better understand what’s at stake with proposed industrial development.

The undeveloped side of Hayden Island, the west, is 826 acres and the subject of controversy. Many citizens such as Friends of West Hayden Island believe it’s worth preserving for wildlife and recreation. Environmental advocates view it as an important link in remaining urban habitat and for shallow areas necessary for Salmon to rest. There are lots of species present. Can there be a spiritual framework of reference in the discussion?

I lock up my bike at the gate on the north side of the island and choose one of several sandy paths leading north.

Soon the Columbia River and Vancouver appear to my right and a sandy beach beckons. There are a couple tents but otherwise deserted and charming in spite of the large outlet pipe and view of an industrial Port of Vancouver across the river. I climb back up and follow a road that looks like it might lead to the interior, or better yet, the more attractive beach on the south edge of the island that can be seen from across the river. If not, that’s OK. Exploring is fun.

Columbia River shore

Like Kelley Point Park across the Columbia, a tall cottonwood forest dominates the landscape. Sand dredgings create a large contaminated open area. I reach a barren interior plateau and spy deer tracks, both adult and fawn. They are white tailed deer according to city biologists. The fawn would be losing its spots now and by winter its coat will be solid. Deer thrive in edge habitat, grasslands and underbrush, but do well just about anywhere especially since we’ve eradicated their natural enemies. That creates its own problems. Too many deer destroy deer habitat. Predators help balance animals with land and remove disease—something we have not understood well. Perhaps the ancient Israelites were right in their understanding of wilderness: there is a divine order in nature (Cultural Viewpoints at Odds). We’ve  just never been patient enough to observe or understand it. Apparently, we only like to see other predators in the grim confines of a zoo, doomed to life imprisonment for our entertainment—like Disney animals.

But there is lots of prime deer grazing here and plenty of thick brush to hide from their most dangerous predators—humans.

The road appears to lead only as far as the interior rather than the other shore. The heat is rising so I backtrack to regroup for the next time.

RR trestle


view from beach: Port of Vancouver

road north

deer and motorcycle tracks

cottonwood with tent caterpillars-a good source of food for wildlife


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