Monday, June 18, 2012

Train to Vancouver! (Mountain High) 16

Courage is the price that life exacts for granting peace.
The soul that knows it not, know no release,
From the little things;
Knows not the livid loneliness of fear,
Nor mountain heights, where bitter joy can hear.
The sound of wings.
       Amelia Earhart Putman

“That’s the Grouse Grind, What do you think?” That is my good friend Debbie trying to be funny. The Grouse Grind for those of you who do not know is a gruelling trail hike up the side of Grouse Mountain in North Vancouver, all the way to the top. If you can do it in just under one hour you are known as an amazingly strong and fit person (or possibly "The King of the Castle").

 Locals know of this trail and even though it is closed this time of year (April) because of rock slides, ice and snow slides, and dangerous slippery paths I watch a lone woman start up the well-worn trail. Many people use this trail as a personal workout and challenge; there is no need for the gym if you live here. My friend Debbie and her husband keep in shape for their extremely adventuresome lifestyle by working their muscles and building endurance on this trail. You see Debbie is an every continent hopping Travel Adventure Writer and she certainly loves a challenge.

 I cannot imagine travelling to every continent of this world and conquering the highest most challenging mountains, the lush rain forests, and mingling with the people we share this world with, like she does. I myself am quite content to sit in my chair in front of my computer and read about the travels and adventures of this extremely talented writer. Her husband Jack’s photography will pull you into the world they are visiting at the time, and not let you go. She shares their adventures in very detailed accounts and you will feel as if you are actually there. I love that. You can check out her site here ( you will not be disappointed. I look forward to reading about every new trip like a child waiting for Christmas morning.  Just for me, we decide on the less strenuous route. Off to the Grouse Sky Ride cable car.

Debbie makes sure M and I have a great spot at the front of this glass enclosed, crowded with skis and people box, hanging only on cables for those photo opportunities; she wanted us to have a perfect spot  for what was to come. Thanks Debbie; I think. I look up and see nothing but clear blue sky. It starts to move, we are moving straight up the mountain at a fast pace and she is absolutely right the views are spectacular. I find that if I continue to look up and never down I do just fine. We come to a big tower that the cables run over and supports the whole works, this big glass enclosed box jumps, bounces, sways or whatever; all I know is I clamp my eyes shut and try to be brave and not lose it. I think Debbie noticed and asked if I was alright I reply SURE in my quivering voice.  We stop swaying and I find my courage again. I open my eyes.

The view was spectacular; I can see the mountains surrounding us, the ships docked in the Vancouver harbour, the city of Vancouver, and Vancouver Island where M and I will be heading in the morning. I can see the beautiful snow covered Coastal and the Cascade (Columbia) mountains. Oh this is so incredible; I am so excited now I forget we are in a box dangling from a few cables. I look down, and notice the green treetops are now covered with snow, and the rocks jutting out of the cliff are so beautiful. I can see the river with its rocky banks and all the beauty that lies below us. I cannot wait to get to the top. We dock on the platform after another tower of my own fear swaying box moments.

This place is great; it is like a little town planted in the middle of this snowy peak. I thank Debbie for the fantastic idea to spend our last day in Vancouver in a place surrounded by so much natural beauty. The views atop this mountain are incredible you can see for miles and miles on this beautiful sunny day. This is perfect. The temperature was warming up quickly and I was having a few second thoughts about those silk long johns I had on, we were in the deep snow on top of a mountain and I was feeling warm but not too bad. I watch as an older gentleman walks by me with only his snowshoes and shorts; now I am a tough Canadian but even this seemed a little extreme for me, I assumed he had just came for a visit from the Arctic Circle.

We head out on this trail of slippery, pellet like snow. The trail was well worn and I found it a little hard to get my footing. We passed the snowboarders, skiers and many hikers like ourselves. The young, the old, and everyone in between had big smiles and enjoying this spectacular sunny day with nature.  I started to find myself slipping more; we were going one step forward, then two steps back.  That is when “Ever prepared Debbie” pulled snow and ice spikes out of her backpack to slip on over our shoes. They worked perfectly, I had no problems after that and we quickly headed up the mountain trail.

We pass cliffs high above our heads, the trees looking like they would topple over on top of us. To the left of me was a drop off and I found myself hugging that cliff wall for quite a while till I found more of that hidden courage. There was nothing from stopping you from falling over that mountain edge to the beautiful snow covered trees and that awesome valley below. I carefully walk over to the edge, OK maybe a little closer to the edge and take a peek. Oh my! It was incredible; I was absorbed into a world of sheer beauty and did not even remember that I was standing on the edge of nowhere. It was a photo opportunity worth the risk.  I felt a peace just like the one I had felt in the middle of that Rain Forest, an indescribable overwhelming calmness.

 We came to the crossroads leading to another much longer trail, it was then that I declare that I am not fit enough to hike the big loop so we head back to the place where we started. As we pass all this beauty I try to soak it all in, then store until the next time I will be able to come back. We ended up doing 3 KM not bad for an amateur mountain hiker a little afraid of heights.

After a great lunch on the deck of the lodge over top of the most scenic place in the world (at least for me) we head down in the scary box with cables. I am so happy I spent the day with a good friend, my daughter M, and the nature I so love all wrapped in a pretty snowy white-mountain top with blue sky and trees. Perfect.

Thanks Debbie I will never forget that day; and thanks for slowing down for this amateur mountain hiker. I am looking forward to reading about your China trip don’t keep us waiting too long.  (



  1. Wow B - what a fantastic experience! It sounds amazing and your photos are priceless aren't they :D)

  2. I get chills just thinking about being in that box...I never could have done it and admire you for forging ahead! It looks like it was very well worth it!

  3. Spectacular is right!! I guess the only way to get to some of the most beautiful places, is to get inside one of those swaying cable cars, eh? I was shaking along with you when you went on that ride, but glad you did it, so we could see the spectacular views! Thanks!

  4. Kudos to you! I am not sure I could have done this!

  5. awesome! to have a personal tour guide and hiking assistant is fantastic! what a great friend.

  6. You obviously had a blast!!

  7. Oh look at those views! What an experience. I'd love to go there.

  8. What an adventure! What a view! I'll put that one on my to-do list as well. P.S. I tried the link to Debbie's site and couldn't connect. Maybe it's under construction. I'll try back later.

  9. Thank you for sharing this amazing adventure part way up the mountain.

  10. WOW! and WOW again! That had to be a GREAT day!


The mind grows by what it feeds on. J.G. Holland

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