Day Four – Wobbly bridges and tree tops

This day was a little more laid back than our previous day, with visits to the Capilano Suspension Bridge and the nearby Grouse Mountain the main things on our agenda.
We started the day by checking out of our hotel at West End. We placed our luggage into storage (the volume of it filled the luggage storage room, much to the horror of the staff on the front desk) and walked to a nearby Denny’s for a hearty breakfast.
The Capilano suspension bridge offers a convenient free shuttle service, with pick-ups from several city locations (check their website for details) We walked to the nearest one (The Blue Horizon hotel in Robson) and within minutes we were on the bus and on our way.

The Capilano suspension bridge is on the north side of Vancouver, up against the mountains, and covers a gorge that contains the Capilano River and surrounding coniferous forest. The suspension bridge was originally built by a Scottish civil engineer in 1903 – back in those days, it was simply hemp ropes and a deck of cedar planks. It was later replaced with a wire cable bridge, then completely rebuilt in 1956. In the early 2000s, the park was extended to incorporate several footbridges suspended between old Douglas Fir trees on the western side of the canyon, taking visitors some 30 metres above the forest floor; and on the eastern side of the gorge, a cliff walkway now gives visitors a unique experience (constructed in 2011).

Staff have begun setting up beautiful lights through the trees ahead of Christmas.

We also spotted squirrels and a bald eagle soaring over the suspension bridge (unfortunately the eagle was too quick for our cameras).

A tour group from Asia also regaled us with their beautiful singing as they crossed the bridge as a group. We gave them a cheer and clap as they went past and they all cheered and laughed as well. A great feeling of goodwill – all of us sharing in the same amazing experience.

After spending a few hours at Capilano, we caught the 236 bus to Grouse Mountain and got the skyride gondola over the trees to the top of the hill. The incline of the mountain is quite steep, and there are only two support towers up the hill for the cables. The whole trip takes about eight minutes and offers spectacular views of the mountain and the city. The video below shows a condensed version of the trip.

Given we are out of the peak summer season, the activities offered at the top of the mountain were limited (no birds of prey demonstration, no lumberjack show), but we were stoked to see the two orphaned grizzly bears Coola and Grinder.

These bears were rescued as cubs but were not able to be returned to the wild, so now call the top of the mountain their home. They are fed a mixture of dog kibble (for protein), and fruits and vegetables such as watermelons and sweet potato. The rangers also indicated that the bears are also quick to move when there is potential prey about and have even snagged some squirrel from time to time! In about a month, they will go into hibernation for the winter, so we are fortunate to have had the opportunity to see them (and with the trip to the Rockies next week, we hope we are no closer to a bear than that!).

Grouse mountain also offers a chairlift to the peak of the mountain (which Kylie and Kristyn enjoyed) and other activities like ziplining and paragliding. Those ones were not on our agenda for this trip, so we were happy to watch others sailing down the hill at crazy speeds and floating above the treeline.

Kristyn’s lovely relatives, Lorna and Al, met us on our return to the Blue Horizon hotel and came with us to collect our baggage from our original hotel at West End (I think the hotel was happy to see their luggage room empty). With the cars full, we made our way through peak hour traffic to the Hilton hotel at Burnaby (our host hotel for the HRF event) and checked in. It was great to hear and meet some other Hearties and we hope to meet many more of them over the coming days.
Al and Lorna had suggested dinner and took us to Horizon’s restaurant on the summit of Burnaby Mountain. We were just in time to catch the beautiful sunset.

After lovely meals of salmon, ribs, chicken and calamari, we had our beverages and Ange tried the lavender flavoured crème brulee dessert. Note for the future: avoid lavender-flavoured desserts. Unfortunately, it tasted a little like bathroom air freshener…
In short, another fabulous day in Vancouver, and the weather could not have been better.

Friday sees the first events of the Hearties Family Reunion event, including a visit to the Burnaby heritage museum and the welcome dinner. Looking forward to meeting up with other Hearties from around the world!

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