Need to escape the fog? Head to Vancouver’s North Shore

Photo credit: keepitsurreal | Flickr

Photo credit: keepitsurreal | Flickr

How’s this for a cruel joke? While downtown Vancouver has been lost in a blanket of fog for the last two weeks, the sun has been blazing down on parts of the North Shore, bringing a stretch of weather that’s more like August than October.

It’s all the result of the city’s latest temperature inversion. Vancouver is one of a handful of places on the planet prone at certain times of the year to this strange weather phenomenon.  In very basic meteorological terms, everything has gotten flipped. Normally, temperatures get cooler with elevation. But right now, a cool, dense air mass is trapped on the ground beneath a warmer layer of air.  Short story: The city is fogged in below the inversion cap.

But there is an easy way to get relief.  I found out for myself over the weekend when I checked out the North Shore’s Cypress Mountain.

It was a cold, dismal, damp, grey day when I left downtown Vancouver, drove over the Lions Gate Bridge and got on the Sea to Sky Highway.  And the fog only got worse after I turned off at the Cypress Bowl exit in West Vancouver and started ascending the mountain.

But then, at around 1,000 meters something almost miraculous happened.  All at once, the fog thinned and weak blue light began streaming in.  Seconds later, I was driving along in full sun and watching the temperature gauge in my car tick higher and higher.  By the time I reached the cross-country parking lot at the top of Cypress, it was 20 degrees.

I stepped out of the car, took off my heavy rain jacket and stripped down to a t-shirt.  Far below, all I could see was the thick white pillow of fog that was smothering the city.  No ocean or downtown – just a solid bank of cloud stretching from the North Shore Mountains all the way to Vancouver Island.  I was happy to be above it.

Stay tuned in my next post for a great hike to escape the inversion on Cypress: the Hollyburn Mountain Trail. 

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