Previously, I shared how I investigated bits of Vancouver’s westside/downtown as well as a couple of its celebrated gardens and self-described hipster neighborhoods. Next up? Seeing what BC’s Scenic 7 had to offer, exploring Greater Vancouver, and poking my nose into some of the city’s calming spaces.
Near the end of our week-long Vancouver visit, Mr Vix and I were trying to choose between several of the area’s many relaxing day trips. Bowen Island! Whistler! The Sunshine Coast! The options were plentiful and the hours dwindling.
In the end, we chose an inland drive along the Fraser River, egged on by the tourist bureau’s edict:
Discover the wonders of the ‘Scenic 7′ Highway—rolling foothills, fertile pastures, and powerful winding rivers. This route grounded in history, steeped in culture, and drenched in scenery is truly majestic.”
While I regret to say we were rather underwhelmed by most of 7′s vistas, I tip my professional hat to the writing that put the hook in our mouth. And since the road took us to glacier-fed Harrison Lake, seen at its azure best thanks to seasonal minerals and late afternoon sun, the end certainly justified the means:
The lake may be the centerpiece of the Harrison Hot Springs township, but the public springs are directly across from it. With more road tripping still ahead another choice had to be made…and the day’s 32C/90F temperature swayed me. After all, though the water seemed frigid with just a few toes in, there were people simply standing around in it—surely I’d acclimate after immersion!
I lasted all of 15 minutes before choosing to admire the scenery from land vs lake.
Luckily for the curious but non-hardy, Somewhat-Scenic Highway 7 leads to more than just stunning Harrison Lake and its adjacent activities and lodgings. Following the route puts one on the doorstep of many local farms and restaurants (and if the timing’s right, in the middle of many a festival).
But pacing is everything. Which is why we somewhat dutifully ticked off spots on the Maple Ridge Port Haney Heritage Walk after lunch at Maple Ridge’s Big Feast Bistro and pre-potential snacking in the next town north. From the walk, I gleaned many things and recall two:
- the widowed Mary Charlton built and ran the area’s first bank, which opened in 1911 (6 years before British Columbia women could legally vote)
- early brick-making involved science and art
I’m a little embarrassed to admit that Maple Ridge’s history was overshadowed by Chilliwack’s legendary sweet corn and Agassiz’s hazelnut product offerings—but Sparkes and Canadian Hazelnut, you didn’t disappoint.
Part of the reason we needed a relaxing day trip was my earlier push to escape the city’s pavement for North Vancouver’s Lynn Canyon Park and Grouse Mountain. Look how friendly the latter appears from afar and on top:
Too bad the 2,830 stairs of the Grouse Grind welcome ~ 100,000 hikers a year but don’t really do friendly. Instead, they gloatingly reside on a trail I’d label both “very challenging” (official description) and “monotonous” (Fodor’s guidebook description).
I will say having a photo that makes it look as if I was well ahead of Mr Vix despite the fact that I slowed him down considerably ALMOST makes me glad I didn’t say, “Oh hell no” and turn around a few hundred yards in.
Fortunately for my aging knees—and for those who want or need to commune with nature on flat or gently rolling trails—the city’s seawall path and Stanley Park provide many treasures.
From the shores of the park’s Lost Lagoon…
to small encounters and welcomes…
to spots ideal for orienting (and brief law-breaking)…
the city itself offers lots of opportunities to get-away-without-going-away. I’d like to think that even mega-sporty outdoor enthusiasts appreciate the many zones where nature waves hi instead of giving one the finger, but if not—their loss!
Until next time, Vancouver!