THE LYNN PEAK TRAIL

Yay!  My first “real” hike in BC! :)

The weather was just perfect for our enthusiastic group of hikers: mostly sunny, just the right temperature for a comfortable hike, and a mainly dry trail thanks to the previous day’s sunshine.

The Lynn Peak trail is part of the Lynn Headwaters Regional Park, located 30 minutes from downtown Vancouver.  For those without a car, there is a bus (the 210) that can drop you off about 15 minutes by foot from the park’s main entrance (the ride itself, from downtown, takes around 45 minutes).

Enjoy those few minutes of relaxation nature has to offer at the park’s main entrance (courtesy of Lynn Creek’s crystal clear rushing waters) because it doesn’t take long before you start to get those legs a-working!


LynnPeakCreek
Lynn Creek

Lynn Peak trail is definitely not a walk in the park.  It has long stretches running through a once active stream and somewhat steep elevation gains in others.  And for you casual hikers out there, there are flatter portions on the trail which are a welcome break from the workout, but probably not enough for your taste.  Again, this is a workout, not a stroll…

LynnPeakRockyRoad
Rocky road ahead

The dried up stream portion of the trail has, obviously, lots of rocks in the way.  If side-stepping unstable rocks is not your cup of tea, this is yet another reason not to do this trail.  Before I scare everybody off, I wouldn’t go as far as saying that this is an “expert” trail — not at all; I just foresee a few people having issues with this one.

The first 45 to 60 minutes are quite steep and end with a stretch of switchbacks that take us to the first of three viewpoints.  The view is quite limited from all the trees encircling the viewpoint and the “show” is not that much to rave about.  The next few elevation gains are not as hard on the knees as that previous one but still, you’ll probably be wishing the peak is just around the corner as you move along.  The second viewpoint has a larger scope and is definitely more interesting — although not that breathtaking by BC standards.  Me and the group I was with took a lunch break there.  We had a surprise guest who showed up and loved to nibble on chunks of chocolate chip cookies that one of my friends had made.

Lynn Peak, Vancouver View
If I had shown you guys more of downtown, I’d have fallen off the ledge!

Lynn Peak, Blue Jay
Our unexpected guest :)

Lynn Peak, Hikers
One of the few patches of snow we encountered

About 30 minutes more and just a few stretches of snow as we were nearing our way to the top, and the peak itself conceaded defeat against our group of spirited hikers.  Again, the view was a little disappointing to me; there were so many trees that we had, at most, a 60 degree view of the area and it was mostly populated surroundings.  Another disappointment was the fact that throughout the hike, we barely crossed a single stream along the trail.  I love the sound of trickling water and I felt cheated, so to speak, for not having crossed a real creek along the way — especially after seeing the huge one at the park’s entrance.

Everybody — including the more casual hikers — made it to the top, but I heard quite a few “I need to get in shape!”  All in all, if you want a good workout, this is a great trail to tackle, but if you’re in it for the scenery, there are better options in the area.

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CANUCKS FEVER!!!

Oh my God!  Even if you were home downtown and NOT watching the game tonight, you couldn’t possibly miss a single goal being scored by the Canucks as the neighbouring buildings resonated with a loud cheer every time the home team shot the puck in the net.  It seemed as though all Vancouverites were glued to their TV set, in high anticipation, as the deciding game 7 was being played out between the Canucks and the Dallas Stars.

I don’t have a TV, so I didn’t see the game (yeah, I could have gone to a pub or something — too lazy I guess), but judging by the decibel level being generated by my neighbouring fans, I think it’s safe to say things were looking good for the Canucks.  I checked the score online and, sure enough, they ended up winning the game 4-1.

It was amazing to see and hear all the fans coming out on their respective balconies and scream their head off in jubilation as the game was won.  It didn’t take long for the people in the streets to cheer back, for someone to blow an air horn, for a dog to bark approvingly (? ;) ) and a fire truck to wail its siren and honk out loud for a few seconds.  I even saw some fireworks shooting up in the sky from what may have been Robson street or even from the top of a building (???) close by.  Can’t wait to see how things will look like if the Nucks win the Cup…

Alright, I think I have the Canucks fever too now (“It’s about time!” I can almost hear you say. ;)  ).  I’ll do my best to watch the games at a local bar and be part of the action and the contagious atmosphere sweeping the city these days.

Far off in the distance, I seem to be hearing a huge cheering still going strong, on Robson and cars are starting to honk too…

THE 2007 VANCOUVER SUN RUN

Vancouver Sun Run 2007, Start Line
Ready, Set, Go!

The Vancouver Sun Run was happening this morning.  It’s the biggest running event in Canada.  54,317 people signed up for either a 10km run or a shorter, 2.5km run.  Although I didn’t sign up for the event, I still managed to have some fun being part of the vibrant atmosphere surrounding it and watching the participants run along with big smiles — and yes, sometimes exhausted looks — on their faces.

Vancouver Sun Run 2007, Smile
Happy to be there

Vancouver Sun Run 2007, Runners #1
9.9km to go…

Vancouver Sun Run 2007, Runners #2
Beautiful setting for a run

Vancouver Sun Run 2007, Pacific Spirit
Promoting a lesser-known run for next month.

SHANNON FALLS

Just a couple of kilometers South of the very popular outdoors mecca of Squamish lies Shannon Falls, about an hour’s drive from downtown Vancouver, along the spectacular Sea to Sky highway.  Although a hiking trail is accessible there, its main attraction is its waterfall, the 3rd highest in BC.  With Winter steadily thawing away, “Shannon” is at its most ferocious and interesting right now.

It takes no time at all to get to the foot of the waterfall, where a large viewing area greets visitors for a great view.  But it gets even better if you take another little trail, running parallel to this viewing area and slightly uphill, leading to the closest view you can have.  There, Shannon Fall’s thunderous splash blows a gentle, misty rain our way that feels quite soothing actually.

Shannon Falls
Shannon Falls

My first visit to Shannon Falls was with a group of photography enthusiasts so, the focusno pun intended ;) — was more geared towards taking nice shots on that particular day.  If you feel inclined to do so, you can also do some real hiking in that area.  I couldn’t tell you about the trail though as I have not tried it out yet.  The famous Stawamus Chief is just around the corner too: it’s a massive 700m mountain face/cliff that rock climbers love and is hikeable too, using a different path, of course. ;)  Looks brutal.  I’ll go easy for now, maybe later…

The short “hike” over and lunch time just around the corner, the group of people I was with thought it would be nice to go to the Howe Sound Inn & Brewing Co. in Squamish next.  Nice place.  I got a free drink because the waitress mistakenly served someone’s second drink with the same thing I had and had to leave it “on the house.”  I suggested her to goof again but she didn’t this time. :p

Finally, a couple of off-road enthusiasts in the group suggested we go on some trail they don’t even know the name of for some 4-wheel fun in the Suzuki Sidekick we were in.  It was great!  Bumpy and narrow but that’s all part of the fun, right?  We didn’t reach the end of the trail (which ran on some unknown mountain side — but I did notice a “Hut Lake” direction sign at some point, along the way) but still managed to have a great view of yet another unknown (to me) mountain.

Unknown Mountain, Squamish Area
Unknown mountain (to me and my friends off-roading)

SUSHI FOR DUMMIES…

With its thriving Asian population and its convenient location next to the Pacific Ocean, Vancouver is, of course, a great place for sushi — and it’s quite cheap too!  When I first came here I was told that the sushi was cheaper than McDonald’s and, assuming you’re not too fancy with your sushi, yes, it could very well be cheaper than McDonald’s.

If you’ve ever tried sushi before, you know that when your plate comes, there is a small amount of very hot, olive green coloured paste called wasabi on one side, and slices of sweet, pickled ginger on the other.  Right.  But what you may not be aware of — at least I was more than surprised when I found out about that a couple of weeks ago — is that the ginger is not there as an optional extra spice for your sushi; it’s supposed to be used as a mouthwash (!) so that your next piece of sushi can be savoured fully, without the leftover taste of the previous one.  Now I understand why I always felt like there never were enough slices of ginger for me to put on my sushi or why some slices were very small and others ridiculously big compared to the size of the rolls…

CHERRY BLOSSOMS SEASON IS ALMOST OVER

Cherry Blossoms

It seems like the cherry blossoms are about to make room for other trees to blossom and show off their colors now. I had never heard of that side of Vancouver before, but, unless you’re blind or asocial, there’s no way you can go through a day without spotting the profusion of cherry trees embellishing the city — and suburbs — during the mid-March to mid-April period.

From what I’ve seen so far, surprisingly, the best spot for cherry blossoms is right downtown, at the Burrard SkyTrain station, where the once naked line of cherry trees transforms itself into a tunnel of blossoms. If you don’t like people “messing up” your pictures, you’d better come early or anytime other than during rush hour; otherwise, you’ll most likely picture not only cherry blossoms, but also a few other people doing the same thing as you!

BurrardSkyTrain4

In case you’re interested in finding out where to look for the best cherry blossom spots and their peak blooming time, check out this link:

Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival

Vancouverites love cherry blossoms, and I’m starting too…