I woke this morning in the town of Squamish, BC. My goal for today was Vancouver. After making/eating breakfast I spent a little time at the Squamish Starbucks booking an Airbnb for this evening and doing a Facebook post. After that I hit the road and headed south to Vancouver. Squamish to Vancouver is an easy 40 mile drive on Hwy 99. The road follows the coast of Howe Sound (images). Howe Sound is actually a fjord off the Strait of Georgia. A little side note….a “fjord” is a long, narrow inlet with steep sides or cliffs, created by glacial erosion…I learned that while visiting Milford Sound (images) New Zealand in 2016 (click here to see the post from Milford Sound). And just for the record, Milford Sound is actually a fjord as well. 🙂 Anyway.
The drive from Squamish to Vancouver was very nice with great views of Howe Sound and Anvil Island, Gambier Island and Bowen Island. Unfortunately the road was kind of narrow (no shoulder) and curvy with very few places to stop so I while I enjoyed the view I wasn’t able to get many photos along my journey. I did manage to get a couple of pictures…..note: if you’re from the Pacific Northwest seeing logs being transported by river (or bay) is nothing new but from someone who grew up on the East coast it’s pretty cool…
After a short time I began to hit the outskirts of West Vancouver (images) and I began to get glimpses of downtown Vancouver. I exited the highway and drove around the hills of West Vancouver trying to find a good place to view the city and get some pictures. Unfortunately I was not able to find a place as every square inch (so it seemed) was covered with large multi-million dollar homes with large fences or hedges. Of course I could see why as the view from here was incredible (I caught a few glimpses as I drove around). So after a few minutes I headed back down to the highway and continued on toward downtown Vancouver.
My first stop was the Vancouver visitor’s centre which, I discovered, is in downtown Vancouver. Just across the street from the visitor’s centre is a place called Canada Place (images). The Canada Place area includes the Vancouver convention centre, a large hotel, several other activity centers and the main terminal for cruise ships that stop in Vancouver. I can’t recall if I have mentioned this before but Canada was celebrating it’s 150th anniversary this year. As a result they were giving free national park passes to everyone….even foreigners like me. The reason I mention this is the big Canada 150 sign that I saw in the Canada Place patio area….
As is probably the case on most days the Canada Place area was very, very crowded while I was there and the downtown traffic was pretty bad. So after just a little while of looking around the downtown area I felt the need to get out of the crowds and traffic and get back on some trails. 🙂 So I found a place near Vancouver that looked like it might be good and headed out.
It took me about 30 minutes to get to parking area for Mount Seymour (images). Mount Seymour is part of the Mount Seymour Provincial Park and is located just northeast of downtown Vancouver. It has a ski area and (as I found out) some descent hiking trails. I did the Mount Seymour trail (images) which, from what I read, was about 5 miles out-and- back with a little over 2100′ of elevation gain and some “stunning views” of the Vancouver area and the Coastal Mountain Range (images) to the north.
As I had read the trail was well marked with a steady incline right from the beginning. While not difficult it was pretty rocky so you had to take your time and watch each step. After an hour or so of hiking I reached the first of 3 peaks named (appropriately) First Peak. It was a beautiful day so the view from here was fantastic…..
As I normally do, I spent some time on the summit just taking it all in. While I was there I met a couple of locals and began talking with them about the trail and some of the things we could see in the distance. One of them told me she had been watching a bear and pointed down to the trail. I looked and sure enough there was a black bear on a little further up the trail between First Peak (where we were) and Second Peak (where I “was” planning to go next). She said that she had started to Second Peak when she saw the bear on the trail so she turned back and came up here instead. We stood and talked for a while, waiting to see if the bear was going to move on, but the bear was busy eating some berries right beside the trail and showed no signs of going anywhere soon. Here is a picture of the trail with the bear to give you an idea of what we were looking at. Unfortunately you cannot see the bear in this picture because it was standing in the shadow but it was just to the right of the 2 large rocks you see in the sun in the middle of the picture….
The girl I was talking to decided to just call it a day as it was getting late in the afternoon anyway and she said goodbye and started back down the trail. I stood and watched for a little longer hoping the bear would move on as I still wanted to do the other two peaks. After about 5 minutes I saw a guy coming down the trail right toward the bear. I wanted to warn him but there was no way he would hear me from this distance so I stood and watched. It was pretty interesting actually. The bear was clearly aware of the hiker long before the hiker realized there was a bear. It was interesting because, although the bear was clearly flustered (for lack of a better word) that the hiker was coming and looked like he did not want to have anything to do with him, he (the bear) was also not going to leave the delicious berry patch that he was in just because a hiker was coming down the trail. When the hiker got within about 20′ of the bear I could tell that he finally saw him (the hiker saw the bear) as he backed up several feet and then detoured far to the left to go around the bear. I continued to watch until I was sure he had made it safely around the bear. Unfortunately by this time it was getting too late to make the other two peaks before dark so I took a few more pictures and then started back down.
I took my time going back and after about 1/2 mile I ran into a guy who was also heading down. I knew from his shirt and backpack that this was the guy I had watched with the bear. I asked if he had just encountered a bear on the trail and he said “yes, you saw it”. We began to talk about and ended up hiking back to the parking area together. His name was Adam and he is a teacher from Calgary who had taken a sabbatical and decided to attend some classes in Vancouver and do some hiking/exploring in the Vancouver and Southwestern BC area. We had a great conversation…so much so that we actually missed the trail a couple of times. 🙂 When we got back to the parking area we exchanged social media information and said our goodbyes. On my way back down the mountain I stopped and took a couple of pictures of the beautiful sunset and Mt. Baker Washington….
So for now goodbye and good night from Vancouver British Columbia Canada.
Until next time…..
“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” – Confucius