As we were in the area, we hit this up after our visit to the the Capilano Suspension Bridge. Unfortunately, nothing opens until 9am – well past golden hour – so we had a choice as to which attraction we would visit with more crowd. I think we made the right choice, as Capilano is smaller and perhaps a bit more popular. At Grouse Mountain, we were able to spread out and get away from the people a bit.
This mountain is a mere 4039′ at its peak, but compared to everything around it at near-sea level, it affords some lofty vantages of the surrounding waterways and city. There are many activities offered here (there’s a ski resort in the winter), but in an effort to keep our costs low, we stuck to the self-guided tour.
A roundtrip ticket to the top will set you back about $40 (Canadian) per person, but if you’re really ambitious, you can ascend on your own two feet along the Grouse Grind – a grueling 1.8-miles and 2800 feet up (you can take the gondola back down for a reduced $10 if the climb breaks you). In recent years, I have discovered a new affinity for hiking, but we were on vacation (read: lazy) and I wasn’t prepared with my hiking gear. Next time, though, we’ll have to give it a go!
The gondola was a fun ride (and it was entertaining to hear everyone squeal at the sudden rocking whenever we crossed the towers), and it got us to the top with little effort. However, once we reached it, we were surprised to find everything shrouded in clouds. So much for the view.
We explored a bit, catching snippets of raptor ranger talks and espying a resident bear. My explorative nature quickly kicked in (not exhausted from a Grind), and I wanted to see, “what’s around that bend up there?”
Before we knew it, we were in the midst of an impromptu hike, on our way up the mountain. The path started simply enough, the remains of an old access road. In no time, though, it dissolved into a gnarled path wending between rocks and tree roots, each step progressively becoming muddier (at this point, I was wishing I had my hiking boots).
Aaron began to suggest we turn back when I heard a faint “whooooo!” and the hiss of a wheel on cable. Glancing up, we were barely able to make out some dark shapes gliding through the clouds along a zipline. “I just want to get a closer look.”
So we ascended some more.
Around another corner, and I was suddenly upon a zipline platform declaring no entry without a guide. From the top of the steps, a giant wind turbine poked through the haze. The scene was somewhat eerie as zipliners, now clearly visible in the foreground, disappeared into the foggy void.
One moment, this “Eye of the Wind” could be seen; the next it simply dissipated. Between these two stages, I managed to capture a few interesting shots. I then acquiesced to Aaron’s urging and we returned to the main area.
We stopped into the restaurant for a touch of wine and some grub. While we relaxed, the sky decided it had had enough of the gloom, and the sun broke through, illuminating the hillside and revealing the beautiful city below! This made the descent all the more enjoyable (and picturesque), rounding out our visit quite nicely.
Have you been to Grouse Mountain? What did you do there? Anyone brave enough for the Grind? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments!