A Mossy Hike at Whytecliff Park


Written by Angelica Poversky

The Outdoorsmen were at it again, addicts of nature! Last Saturday, April 4th, I led a group of nine hikers and adventurers on a quest to Whytecliff park.

All but one person had been there before, so this was a new experience, a new hike, a new adventure. After a Canada Line ride and a bus, we found our way into the park.

On this hike, I really wanted to put an emphasis on moss and ferns, and alking about vascular and non-vascular seedless plants. This hike was perfect for this; it was probably a hike that was filled with the most moss and ferns I had ever seen.

At the begnning of our journey, I had wanted to ask everyone to go around a circle and list their favorite type of non-vascular or vascular seedless species. That wasn't super successful so instead I asked everyone to say their favorite type of fern or moss.

One of the choices was Old Man's Beard, which is exciting, because Old Man's Beard is actually a fungi - not even a plant. So I broke some dreams there. (Insert evil laugh)

As we progressed through the hike I pointed out sword ferns and lady ferns. It was a little bizarre how interested people were at this point, maybe they were all humoring me but hey, the end result is the same. (I will teach you children!)

Then we came to a viewpoint, where we had a brief snack and shared some giggles. I took this opportunity to bombard them with more knowledge, talking about fun things like how ancient ferns used to be huge, as tall as 3mb and how even from so long ago these awesome guys have thrived on. Because they are stronger and can transport water by themselves, they don't grow in bunches like moss. Mosses reproduce by branching and fragmentation, because they don't have a vascular system. Instead, they have all these traits that make them really rely on each other and work as a team.

The hike was relatively short and when we ended up back at Whytecliff beach, we had more energy left in us so we climbed two huge rocks, or I suppose White Cliffs? 

They were massive and the adrenaline rush was pretty scientifically proven.

I did nerd out a little when I noticed, "Hey guys look at this moss growing on rocks!"

Pointing out the location where the moss was growing, I mentioned that the areas required moisture for the moss to survive because of the small size and thinness of tissues and lack of cuticle, that waxy covering that gymnosperms have to prevent water loss.

When we got to the top of the rock we spent some time to take a well-deserved lunch and a reposing moment. After enjoying the view of deep cove and the sea buses that passed us, we decided to climb the second rock across the water.

We spent some more time snacking, hanging out, and chilling out to nature times. As we made our descent from the structure we made a stop by the restroom, where I got the question of my dreams as we passed a bunch of ferns: "Hey Angelica, tell me a little something about this!"

(Was this even real? Wow. Interest, my god.)

So I ended up chatting with a small group about how the things we saw in front of us on trees was actually liverworts, not moss.

As we headed down to the bus stop, joking and in good spirits, we were already planning our next adventure!