A week of wandering in and around bold, beautiful Vancouver BC [pt 3]

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:

Partially fed by glacier runoff that turns its spring/summer water azure, Harrison Lake offers beautiful vistas and an icy embrace

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

The Maple Ridge BC heritage tour takes one along the Fraser River and into the workings of a former brick factory

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.

If bringing 14 field-fresh ears of Chilliwack sweet corn from BC back to Oregon is wrong, who wants to be right?

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:

Grouse Mountain seems innocent enough when viewed from Queen Elizabeth Park or the top of the mountain itself…

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).

…but going up it via the notorious Grouse Grind had me longing for the end

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…

Stanley Park’s romantically named Lost Lagoon doesn’t disappoint

to small encounters and welcomes…

Manicured lawn, well-kept trails, and more greet seawall strollers and Stanley Park visitors

to spots ideal for orienting (and brief law-breaking)…

Stanley Park’s size means it can offer serenity or community—along with opportunities to quickly rule-break or take in city views

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!

Vancouver, like most (all?) PNW cities, prides itself on keeping nature close…and our rented condo’s rooftop pool didn’t disappoint on that score

Until next time, Vancouver!

8 Responses

  1. After the Grouse Grind your roof top pool must be heaven! There’s no way I had been able to climb all those steps, so Well Done! Although Vancouver (and Greater Vancouver) offers many beautiful places, the Harrison Lake takes first prize! These incredible blue colours remind of some of your clothes, maybe a silk top? Fantastic!

  2. Kaffe/Tine—

    Thanks for stopping by for all 3 parts! Yes, the pool felt sooo good post-hike; we were so grimy and dusty by the time we got back. I swear I don’t know how people RUN UP that trail in 1/3 the time I climbed it, egads. Thankfully one is forbidden to go down it, and must use the skyride/cable car. Worth the $10 CAD to avoid seeing it again, ha.

    I agree about Harrison Lake and wish my camera setting had been correct for a better shot, duh me. Are you genetically programmed to handle freezing water? If so you would have been in heaven.

    [Is it bad to say I have a lot of clothing in those shades? Nothing in particular comes to mind….]

  3. Oh… I do believe I am a tad jealous. Love your corner of the world, Vix! I have family in Vancouver…

  4. Ms Linda—

    Thanks much for stopping by. It is a beautiful corner up here; hopefully your family trades off visits to you (warm and lush in the winter) with BC (coolish and lush in the summer)!

  5. Ooh, my knees are feeling the Grouse Grind all the way from here. Stanley Park looks lovely and you’ve done a great job of tempting me toward Vancouver.

    • Pauline—

      I think my knees are still feeling it! Glad to hear my trip report has put a Vancouver visit on your radar.

  6. Heyvix, it’s been such a long time now – I’m wondering if you’re alright. I hope you’re just very busy, and that you’ll be back soon. You’re missed!

    • Hi Kaffe/Tine —

      You are too sweet to check in on me — hadn’t quite realized just how long it’s been since a new post! I know I’ve barely been commenting on others’ efforts, too, and I’m sorry for that.

      I’m ok in the broad sense, just especially battered/left brain dead by the last two+ months of work. Writing and thinking for the blog is a busman’s holiday, so I’ve been trying to recharge with friends, other hobbies, and small adventures. And passive entertainment that lets me zone out, ha.

      I have a few things I’ve been wanting to share, and hope to get to ’em soon! Again, thanks for touching base.

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