Defining what makes a great walk isn’t easy, according to Alice Purdey.
“It depends on who you are,” the Burnaby resident told the Georgia Straight by phone from Jerusalem, where she was visiting family. “Are you a young family with small children? Are you an old hand at walking? Do you like flat? Do you like something more challenging? We tried to include walks that include all of those factors, so that it would aim at a wider user group.”
Purdey was talking about the seventh edition of 109 Walks in British Columbia’s Lower Mainland, which she coauthored with Langley resident John Halliday. Greystone Books published the latest revision of the classic guidebook in April.
It’s the first version of the book—originally printed in 1976—not written by Mary and David Macaree, who died in 2008 and 1998, respectively, but remain credited as coauthors. The Macarees also wrote four editions of 103 Hikes in Southwestern British Columbia, which has since been updated twice by Jack Bryceland.
One thing all five of these people have in common is their membership in the British Columbia Mountaineering Club. Purdey noted that the Macarees donated some of their royalties from the book to the BCMC from time to time. Then Mary bequeathed all the royalties from the last edition to the club for conservation purposes.
“When it came time for another edition, the seventh, if you paid for somebody to do it, there wouldn’t be any money left over,” said Purdey, who, at 69 years old, is a retired nurse. “The club asked for volunteers, and both John and I volunteered to do it. So, it was all volunteer work. We got our gas money.”
The seventh edition of 109 Walks adds 14 new walks and updates the others found in previous versions. Halliday walked some of the routes, and she did the rest.
Included in the book are everything from urban strolls (a False Creek loop, for example) and nature walks (Burnaby Lake) to short hikes (Shannon Falls). The Shannon Falls trip is most challenging in the book, taking 4.5 hours and involving 445 metres of elevation gain. (The route is now part of the Sea to Sky Gondola’s Sea to Summit Trail.)
Purdey noted they tried to make the book less Vancouver-centric by renaming its sections. They also replaced walks north of Squamish with trips south of the Fraser River and east of the Port Mann Bridge.
“We added more walks that are south of the Fraser, because a lot of the population is moving out there now,” Purdey said. “So, we tried to rejig the balance of walks a bit.”
The seventh edition separates the driving directions from the walk descriptions. Purdey noted they included GPS info to “modernize it a bit”.
According to Purdey, putting together 109 Walks was far more work than she ever imagined.
“The funnest part was doing all the walks,” Purdey said. “Writing it was more of a challenge. Trying to get to a stage where I could be consistent in writing and keeping the descriptions down, because we’re limited to the two facing pages and 500 words per page. So if it’s a big description to get there or it’s a complicated walk, then that was quite challenging.”