A Canadian Spring

From the island of O’ahu, in the middle of the Pacific, to Bowen island just off the coast of West Vancouver. A fifteen minute ferry ride from the mainland and you get transported to a quaint, quiet world free from the madness of Downtown Vancouver. It makes for an extremely popular home for rich, working Vancouverites – who are willing to commute via ferry to work every day – and day trip destination for tourists. The island’s main attraction, and the reason why I went there, was to hike to its summit; Mount Gardner – as seen from the ferry below (the one on the right).

Ferry to Bowen Island

The climb itself was fairly straightforward but for the final fifty metres or so which required a rope-pull to the summit. We had to ditch our do-it-yourself hiking poles and scramble to the top. A now warm beer and some of British Columbia’s finest was certainly required at the top.

The summit of Mount Baker, one of the tallest mountains in Northern USA, can faintly be made out in the photo below. With it being over sixty miles away the fact that it can be seen at all shows its gargantuan size. The fading light meant a rather daunting dusk/nightfall hike back to Bowen Island harbour, which was pitch black by the time we arrived.

The North Summit of Mount Gardner

Killarney Lake at Bowen Island

Next on the Bucket List was snowboarding at the world-renowned resort of Whistler. It held a large number of events when the Winter Olympics rolled into Vancouver in 2010 and the legacy of those games can still be seen everywhere. Being a complete snowboarding novice a couple of runs down the bunny slope eased me into it before I was thrown onto my first green slope; which went surprisingly well.

However, a wrong turn and some god awful signage at the peak of only my second ever run meant we had started down a blue slope – the second most difficult grade of run – and once you’ve started trickling down, as I soon scramblingly discovered, there is no way back… I am not an adrenalin junkie, nor like traveling at any great speed, so it’s safe to say that I s*** myself.

Near the Summit of Whistler Mountain

Whistler Mountain

Having taken an obscene amount of time to make it down to the bottom, and with shins on fire, a swift Guinness in a log-fire warmed Irish bar settled the olde nerves. At least until a ride on the longest and highest ski gondola in the world was arranged. I’m also not one for heights so this was another clenching moment. However, the trip from Whistler to Blackcomb mountain did throw up some pretty spectacular views of the valley between the two mountains and its alpine surroundings.

Peak 2 Peak Gondola

I thought some time in the snow and cold at Whistler would be pretty good preparation for the next state on my list; Alaska. It did not turn out that way…


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