We forget how close we are sometimes…

There is one thing about Vancouver that is truly unparalleled – the sheer access you have to the outdoors. The city has everything that a city can offer; a selection of interesting and good food and drinks, pubs and clubs to visit with your friends, a strong arts community, and much, much more. What is incredible to me is that with all of this on my doorstep, I can still walk out the front door and find myself hiking on a mountain or through the woods in mere minutes. I’ve done more outdoor activity here than I’ve done anywhere else in my life – mountain biking, hiking, camping, paddling, and it’s all right here. I can take public transit to these places.

This past weekend my husband and I took my brother, my brother’s girlfriend, and another friend out for a hike in West Vancouver’s Lighthouse Park. We’ve been there around four times in the past year, and every time the place has completely caught me off guard. The trees, specifically the Sitka Spruce, are quite simply the biggest trees I have ever seen in my entire life. They make the big old Douglas Fir they’re so proud of at Capilano Suspension bridge look tiny. I’ve tried to take photos to send back east, but nothing captures the scope of the place. We simply have to bring people there when they visit so that they, too, can understand.

The other interesting aspect of this proximity to the wild is how close you get to wild animals. I’ve seen more animals in a public park around this city than I’ve seen in the remote wilderness of North-eastern Ontario. A bald eagle landed on the apartment building across from mine in North Vancouver just last week. Walking on the dyke in Pitt Meadows two weeks ago, I saw and snapped some photos of a small owl – possibly a juvenile great horned, although I don’t know for sure. A year and a half ago, the only bald eagle I had ever seen was at the zoo, and the only owls were in wildlife rehabilitation centres.

On the weekend, two hikers were killed in the BC Mountains. People are injured and killed while hiking on Grouse mountain, one of the city’s biggest tourist attractions, relatively frequently. The wonder is there, and so is the danger. We often seem to forget that as we walk around comfortably close to the city but just outside of view – and that can be enough to get you lost for days.

Vancouver really is a wondrous place, and so very unique.

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