Explore and Revive: A Guide to Getting Outside This Summer

Outside Adventures by Cali McTavish
Outside Adventures by Cali McTavish

It feels as though, despite our most earnest longings (though perhaps not most committed efforts) we still find ourselves in the midst of a pandemic. So as summer rolls in, to shake off our collective case of the blahs, here are a few ways to get outside.

While I will try to provide you adventure suggestions for places that are off the beaten path, when it comes to hikes, I am not likely to succeed. The regional health authority travel restrictions make these excursions trickier, but not impossible as Vancouver is a city full of hiking and walking trails.

Safety is important even if you are an experienced hiker going somewhere you think will be safe. It’s vital to tell someone where you are going and what time you will be back. North Shore Search and Rescue saw a 300% increase in incidents in 2020. Don’t be that person. Ensure that you have a GPS map on your phone, your phone is fully charged, and that you have an extra charger pack. Also, it’s always a good idea to carry the 10 essentials.

A high-quality mask is also an asset, so you can safely manoeuvre if you run into larger groups of people. Caveats aside, here are a few excursions for you to try:

 

DAY HIKES

BEGINNER: LIGHTHOUSE PARK

Lighthouse Park offers spectacular views of Howe Sound, Bowen Island, and back towards UBC and Vancouver. Great if you’re not in the mood for elevation gain. The bluffs also offer many nice spots for picnics, especially at Juniper Point.

Student Nate Lewis described how the area is a haven for birders:

“One time there were a bunch of turkey vultures going after something near the shoreline and they were swooping all over the place! I’ve often seen eagles around there as well. So much avian activity!”

Intermediate: EAGLE BLUFFS

Eagle Bluffs is on Black Mountain, beside Cypress Mountain. A popular destination, this hike offers views of the Howe Sound that are second to none – and often many eagles! You can access it from the Cypress Mountain parking lot, and while it never hurts to have a map app, in this case it is very easy to follow the sign posts.

ADVANCED: BRUNSWICK

The Brunswick Mountain hike kicks off from Lion’s Bay, and I highly recommend checking out the Lion’s Bay Café when you go. It’s a great place to meet up with a friend, or grab an extra snack before heading on your way. Brunswick is a fairly grueling 15km hike, made worth the challenge by the snow-capped peaks you get to stand among. As one of the tallest peaks in the range, it offers a great opportunity to scope out your next adventure.

OTHER ACTIVITIES

MOUNTAIN BIKING: MT. FROMME

Conveniently located on the north shore, just east of Grouse Mountain, Mt. Fromme offers great beginner, intermediate, and advanced terrain when you are just looking to get a lap in at the end of a long day. Mountain biking is a sport I only got in to last year, but as an avid skier (aka someone who likes to go fast downhill) I quickly found it was right up my alley. Mountain biking is also a great way to learn biking uphill isn’t so bad, since you get to enjoy a choose-your-own-adventure roller coaster ride on the way down. To find the trail that suits your ability use Trail Forks. The app has kindly colour coded the runs with green for beginner, blue for intermediate and black for advanced.

ROCK CLIMBING: SULLY’s HANGOUT

*For this article I am focusing on sport climbing, not trad climbing. Sport Climbing uses bolts that have been secured in to the rock. Trad climbing means using your own gear in cracks in the rock.

Sully’s Hangout is located in the Lynn Canyon Area. Take the Lynn Canyon loop hike to where the well-established trail breaks in two. Turn sharply right off the path and head steeply uphill for 500m. The trail is marked but poorly, and the wall should appear magically before you. In order to not get lost, I highly recommend using Gaia GPS. Sully’s is great because it is very easy to set-up top ropes. At Sully’s, you feel one-with-the-forest, climbing mossy rock slabs surrounded by big old cedar, fir and pine. If you’re new to the sport, start on the far left and work your way right. I am not a super advanced climber, but this location has everything from easy to highly advanced climbing spots, so everyone can find their puzzle to play with.

A quick history: climbing routes in BC are graded using the Yosemite Decimal System. Originally, the system was used to grade hikes and mountaineering routes by the Sierra Club. For example, an easy hike would be a one, while a challenging, steep hike would be a four. You will often see hiking and scrambling books using this system. Five was meant to imply “only to be attempted with “artificial aid,” aka ropes. This is why everything in climbing starts at 5 point something.

STAND UP PADDLEBOARD/KAYAK: DEEP COVE

I am assuming, seasoned adventurer, you have probably heard of Quarry Rock—the popular day hike that starts in Deep Cove and ends at Quarry Rock. If you have not, I highly recommend checking it out, though you will find it crowded on weekends. But, another great adventure can be launched from this little hamlet by the sea. Kayaks or SUPS (Stan-up Paddle boards) can be rented from Deep Cove Kayaks right in the bay. An army of teenagers will even pull your craft in to the water for you and give you an only slightly condescending safety run-down. Then you’re off! Some options to shoot for:

Racoon Island is only a short (1hr) jaunt away. This is a perfect destination for a day paddle.

Twin Islands is your first potential camping destination. It’s only about a two-hour paddle away, so a good destination if you’re looking for somewhere to camp, but also heading out after work.  It has lovely wooden tent pads, outhouses, and is generally well maintained.

Granite Falls: If you are looking for a full day of paddling and a spectacular kayaking experience, head up to Granite Falls. Because it is an inlet the waters are usually quite calm, with no major currents. Depending on the time of year, you may even see whales. It’s nearly guaranteed you’ll find yourself followed by inquisitive and friendly seals. At Granite Falls, can set up a tent in the forest or in a grassy meadow, and there’s lots of space to walk explore.

I hope this article will lead to many adventures for you. I especially hope you end up trying something new! Enjoy your “one-dose summer” friends, and I look forward to seeing you back on campus in the fall.

I hope this article will lead to many adventures for you. I especially hope you end up trying something new! Enjoy your “one-dose summer” friends, and I look forward to seeing you back on campus in the fall.

APPS To Check out:

PeakFinder

Adventure Smart

Gaia GPS

Trail Forks

Fatmap

The Crag