I’ve been wanting to take a Road Trip to Canada since moving up to Seattle, and with Mark visiting this weekend we decided to head up that way. I’ve never been to Canada before!
We drove north on I-5 and crossed at the Peace Arch Border Crossing, which had a great park, and luckily the wait wasn’t too bad. It took only a couple hours to reach from Seattle.
We wanted to stay around the Vancouver area, and check out some of the national or provincial parks, so decided to go to Grouse Mountain which in the winter is a ski spot and a half hour city bus ride away from Vancouver. In the summer there are various attractions on the peak, but the main pull seems to be the Grouse Grind, which their website refers to as “mother nature’s stairmaster.” It also provides this helpful info:
Trail FactsLength: 2.9 kilometres (1.8 miles)Elevation Gain: 853 metres (2,800 feet)
Base: 274 metres above sea level (900 feet)
Summit: 1,127 metres (3,700 feet)
Total Stairs: 2,830
I don’t think I’m very good at understanding distances in km or got a little overconfident from hiking the Grand Canyon earlier this year because it didn’t seem like a big deal when I was looking at the website. It was a big deal when I was looking at the mountain.
Luckily Mark was there to snap a bunch of pictures of me struggling up the stairs (at one point going to hands and knees to crawl along, which doesn’t need to make it onto the internet) as he bounced along ahead and behind me.
We were regularly passed by grizzled old men power stepping along. People get really into it- you can download an app that tracks your progress and then the stats are aggregated and displayed in the lodge at the top. The record for repeat runs in one day is 13.
The view from the top was gorgeous, you can see West Vancouver and the tip of Stanley Park in downtown Vancouver. It took us around 1.5 hours total to climb. Check out the steep vertical decline in the cables on this tram for a visual on the slope of the mountain.
It was beautiful in the summer and I can imagine it having a very cozy lodge in the winter.
We were lucky to make it on time to see a free bird show where they flew a bald eagle, red-tailed hawk, turkey vulture and great horned owl. The quality of information that the handlers delivered was impressive, and these birds looked great in flight. (Also, you can see the beautiful Alex Fraser Bridge in the background of this picture below.)
Also on this hill was a grizzly bear habitat. They were huge bears. Here is Mark standing in front of the size chart.
This is the smaller bear, marked “Grinder” on the previous picture.
You guys, Canada is really intense. Lots of old people running up mountains over and over, grizzly bears, mean looking raptor birds, helicopters, 12 foot sculptures of athletes carved from giant trees. Luckily everyone is also very nice and everything is incredibly clean. After Grouse Mountain we went to Vancouver and I will have more about that in my next post!