First Impressions, Part 5: Vancouver’s Mountains

High View Lookout Morning Photo Credit: Anders Falk via Flickr

High View Lookout Morning Photo Credit: Anders Falk via Flickr

Hello again, Vancouver.

In case you missed the last installment of this series, my name is Tom. I’m new in Town.

I just moved here from my hometown of Ottawa. It was a bit of leap of faith because I’d never been to BC before, but it’s all paid off. You see, I’ve already fallen in love with your city.

Vancouver has a lot going for it: great sports teams, delicious restaurants, beautiful parks, and more. But as I clumsily learn my way through its neighbourhoods—all unfamiliar to me—I’m learning that there is so much more to this city than the obvious. As a Vancouver newbie, I’m finding that even the city’s ordinary is excellent. Even the mundane is thrilling. Yes, Vancouver, with my fresh set of eyes, I’m here to remind you to appreciate the little things—the lovely little things—because your city is full of them.

A perfect example? Vancouver’s mountains.

Now, I know, mountains aren’t exactly “little things”—the polar opposite, really. And of course, your city isn’t literally “full of them” (though it’s not without its hills). But in Vancouver, the mountains are always present, casting sprawling shadows over different sections of the city each day. As Vancouverites, they are our towering neighbours; a family of titans with names like Cypress, Seymour, Grouse and The Lions. Despite their magnitude, however, they’re an easy thing to forget.

It’s unfortunate, but we live in a time when text messages trump upward glances, when status updates take priority over stopping to smell the roses. Yes, while the North Shore Mountains are always visible, they’re not always seen. So pocket your phones, Vancouverites. Turn off your tablets. Instead, take a look to Northern sky.

The view of Vancouver's mountains from Triumph Street.

The view of Vancouver’s mountains from Triumph Street.

Better yet? Tie up your hiking boots, hop in your car (or onto one of the city’s excellent buses), and spend the day exploring one of our giant comrades. Whatever your fitness level, Vancouver’s mountains will have something for you.

For the fittest folk, there’s the Grouse Grind, a grueling slog up the face of Grouse Mountain. Sound daunting? Well, it should. Its 2.9 kilometer length and 853 metre elevation-gain make it a test for just about anybody. And while I haven’t given the Grind a go yet (I’m still too full of pizza and beer), it’s high on my list. I hope to make my attempt as soon as possible.

I have, however, already explored the Cypress Mountain range. A synopsis of my experience amongst its crags and peaks? Even as a writer, it’s difficult to find the words. Toronto has its islands. Ottawa has the Gatineau Hills. Montreal has Mont Royal. Few natural attractions, however, hold a candle to the landscapes of Vancouver’s North Shore Mountains. There are towering pines, sparkling lakes, sheer cliffs, and perhaps best of all, breathtaking views of this beautiful city.

The view from one of Black Mountain.

The view from one of Black Mountain.

The moral of my rambling? I implore you, Vancouverites; do not forget our mighty neighbours. Do not lose sight of their magnificence in the chaos of your day-to-day lives. Be it with a skyward gaze from downtown, a picnic on a peak, a day hike, or a more extreme excursion; take full advantage of the behemoths to our North—because we’re lucky to have them.

Despite their scale, Vancouver’s mountains are but one of the many, little things that make Vancouver special. And every day, I’m overwhelmed by the small, yet splendid details of this city. Yes, I may have just arrived, but I’m already thrilled to be able to call Vancouver home.

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