What the heck is “Out of Bounds”

I can’t help but notice the wording of a recent article by CTV news on a rescue of two hikers in Lynn Valley Regional Park.

The summary states (emphasis mine)

Two men in their 20s were rescued by North Shore Mounties early Saturday morning after getting stranded while hiking out of bounds between Grouse Mountain and Lynn Headwaters Park

What the heck is out of bounds anyway?

Those hikers were hiking in a Lynn Headwaters Regional Park. It’s a park. Check the map, they were inside it. Despite the fact that hiking is allowed on all crown land in BC, this is a park where trails are built for the specific purpose of hiking and backcountry recreation. So while the hikers might be criticized for not wearing the correct footwear, or being a little unprepared, I have to say, based on the limited media coverage I’ve been able to find, that they made some pretty good decisions.

They hiked into Haines Valley, probably intending to do the Haines Loop. The park web site seems to indicate that the trail is closed, but it’s not easy to find this notice, and it seems to be written referring to the winter season. I don’t know if there are signs on the trail. As I’ve written, there is more snow than usual in the alpine this year, and these two discovered that the Haines Valley ends in a long snow slope, even on years when there is less snow.

They reversed their route and discovered that the creeks they had crossed earlier were now much higher, also unusual this year doe to the large snowpack. So rather than risk their lives trying to cross the creek, they stayed the night. Note that they had survival equipment, and had also told people where they were going, and when to expect them back.

However, calling this out of bounds is plainly ridiculous.

Perhaps signs indicating the trail is closed should indicate why (snow, high water, difficult creek crossings).

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2 comments on “What the heck is “Out of Bounds”
  1. Curtis says:

    Hey Mike, Metro does a pretty good job of marking certain backcountry areas as closed. They also make note that the areas are not patrolled and subject to extreme natural hazards at the park entrance. Honestly though, I don’t really think an explanation is required. In reality, they are doing the same thing as ski resorts that put up a rope line. They are looking to limit their exposure to legal fall back from the unprepared wandering into unmonitored/uncontrolled terrain and getting hurt/lost/killed. The only difference is, when someone crosses onto closed Metro Vancouver land, they ARE actually trespassing. Although Metro chooses not to pursue this much further than a warning in most cases I have seen (eg. the grind).

    • Curtis, I agree, Metro does a better job than almost anyone. I also agree that it is trespassing when you go onto Metro Vancouver owned land that is not a park, which encompasses part of the Grind. Also, the Ski hill “owns” the top, so it’s also trespassing there. However, this is the exception. Most of the land in BC that is not Metro, watershed, or owned, is park and crown land and there are (and should be) no barriers.

      My beef is with the general idea that the act of skiing in the park or on crown land is wrong, which is promulgated by the media by labeling it “out of bounds”.

      Instead of just saying “stay out of the backcountry” which is plainly not working, we should concentrate on education.

      Crown land and park land are “open” and the Government of BC and Canada spends billions promoting the wilderness as the reason you should come to BC. They should divert some of that money into education and prevention.

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