Yesterday (Sunday) was Nick’s birthday, so we planned a whole weekend of nice activities. Friday night we cooked a pizza, and took it and some drinks down to Kitsilano Beach to enjoy the sunshine! Drinking alcohol in public is illegal here, and you can get fined about $230 if you are caught. They DO patrol the beaches here and take it quite seriously, so bear that in mind! We didn’t let that deter us, however, and decanted some drink into thermos bottles and just hid it whenever someone walked past. The sunset was beautiful, as are all the sunsets here. We may bang on about it, but the west coast sunsets are unbelievable!
Saturday night we went out for dinner at Steamworks, which is a really cool pub just on the edge of Gastown. We then went to the Railway Club for some drinks. It was awesome! It was built in 1930 (old for Vancouver), and used to be a working men’s club for the Railway workers. It doesn’t look like it has changed much since then and had a really cool ‘lived in’ feel. It also had a train set going round the top all the way round the bar which was really cool. It’s a live music venue, and every now and then has tribute bands. There were two bands we came for: a Led Zeppelin tribute called ‘Femme Zeppelin’ and a Doors tribute called ‘The Unknown Soldiers’. The Led Zeppelin one was brilliant. Unfortunately we didn’t stay for The Doors, as it was going on for ages, but they play pretty regularly here so we will definitely catch them at some point!
Sunday, once Nick had opened his presents and cards and blew his candles out, we packed up our shiny new hiking backpacks and set off for Bowen Island to hike Mount Gardner! We got the 257 bus to Horseshoe bay, and just made the 12:10 ferry over to Bowen Island. The crossing only took about 20 minutes and was scenic all the way!
Once we arrived, we started on the 3 km trek to the start of the mountain. I’m not going to lie, we were pretty knackered by this point already, so the prospect of another 13 km wasn’t filling us with joy. The start of the hike was up a road that was the steepest road I’ve ever seen in my life. This was the worst part of the hike for me, as it was relentless climbing. I felt like crying and just turning back, but we both knew the views at the top would be worth it. After about 10 minutes of that we veered off onto the Skid Trail. And then we climbed. And climbed. And climbed. We kept thinking ‘we must be at the top soon’. We were wrong, so wrong! Every bit was worse than the last, plus there were fallen trees all over the place, so we had to constantly climb over/under them. It was tiring. I got to a point where I just had nothing left, and had to drag my legs over fallen trees with my hands. We didn’t bring enough water either, so that was a constant worry, as we were so thirsty. It was hot, we were tired, our feet hurt and we wanted to turn back but we just kept going. We bumped into a woman at one point where we thought it was almost over and she told us there was still an hour to go. Great!
At the top of the trail, it was so steep that there were ropes to climb. Once we finally got to the top I was so exhausted I started crying, and then I realised I was struggling to breathe and had a bit of a panic attack. I’m not exaggerating, it was hell! Anyway, the view was SO worth it. It was breathtaking. There were two helipads at the top which we sat on and enjoyed the view.
As we took in the amazing view, it was slowly dawning on us that we had to go all the way down again and make the ferry back. So we stayed at the top for about an hour and then started the descent. Going down wasn’t anywhere near as bad as going up. We hardly stopped at all, we were doing each kilometer faster than the last one. I fell at one point and twisted my ankle, which didn’t hurt much until we got back home and I took my shoes off, but apart from that mishap, we were ok. It took us 5 hours 40 mins to do the entire 16 km which we think was ok considering how unfit we are! Our total ascent was 3532 ft. Nick’s Endomondo app on his phone worked out that we’d burnt over 3000 calories which is mental! We made good time walking back and made it in time for the ferry and bus, and then back home for a well deserved pizza!
In summary, it was tough, a lot tougher than it looks. The Vancouver Trails website lists it as an ‘Intermediate’ hike. But we really feel it should be listed as difficult. We’ve been planning to do more hikes to build up to doing Lake Garibaldi, but after doing Mount Gardner, Garibaldi will be a piece of piss! There was nothing enjoyable about the climb, but the views at the top were so amazing that it really was worth it. That’s not to say we’d do it again though!! Nick has made a video of the hike, which is pretty long, but we think it’s good :). You will also see the infamous ‘cheese and ham baguette’ that is mentioned more than once in the video. Nick would like to say, to get the best out of the video, switch it to 720p or 1080p in the YouTube quality settings. Enjoy!