Back in January we bought an annual pass for Grouse Mountain, and we figured it was about time we used it. We took one of the first gondolas up in the morning and set off for our favourite North Shore peak, Goat Mountain. We had a lovely clear sunny day and a great view of Vancouver and across the water to Vancouver Island.
We hiked past the grizzlies we’d seen only a couple of weeks when sightseeing with my Mum and Dad, and set off on the trail. It had rained the night before – the tree roots were slippery and the berry bushes were dripping with raindrops which sparkled mini-rainbows in the sunlight. The one thing the berry bushes were not dripping with was berries – none at all. Here and there a bush had a few flowers, sometimes unripe berries but the number of ripe berries we saw could have been counted on one hand. We couldn’t believe that, here in autumn, spring was barely beginning in these mountains. We encountered one patch of bear poop and it was full of unripe berries – it’s going to be a very difficult winter for them.
We hauled ourselves up the scrambly bits and opted for the steep approach to Goat summit. Soon we were on top of the peak and enjoying the glorious views all round. We had a snack and set out the real business of the day – getting to the end of Goat Ridge. Dropping down from the peak, we passed a couple making their way up, turned left and followed the trail along the ridge.
We had one previous attempt at the ridge, which petered out as we all ran out of steam, but this time we were determined to reach the end. The trail took us up and over a couple of small bumps before descending via a couple of steps (one of which required a small rope to help us out) to an area filled with small tarns. A little further, we passed the tarn that Andrew had swum in last time (which actually gave us the idea for the Lake Challenge of 2009), and met up with the only person we would see on the whole ridge. A sound made us look up and we saw an elderly hiker tying a small piece of orange tape to a tree. We stopped and chatted with him and he said how nice it was to see people using the trail as not many do. We said we’d been wanting to this trail for many years and he said he’d been doing it every year for many years :-)
We parted and continued our journey to the end. The trail got narrower, but was still easy to follow as it ambled through heathery subalpine terrain. One last small ascent and we found ourselves on a bump at the end of the ridge with a precipitous drop down into Lynn Valley. We had made it! We sat and ate lunch under now cool, cloudy skies and enjoyed our new perspective on familiar sights.
Well there’s not much to do at the end of the ridge, not much more to explore so we turned around and retraced our route. We stopped at the tarns on the way for another snack break, and watched a young dipper for a while. From there we returned to the back of Grouse mountain where we had an idea. When we visited with my Mum and Dad a few weeks ago, we took the Peak Chair up to see the Eye of the Wind wind turbine. Today we noticed some flagging and a hint of a trail winding its way up the north face of the peak, and thought “Hmmm, I wonder where that goes?” which was enough to have us following it to see where it went.
Up the slope we followed the mostly overgrown but well-flagged trail. All the sopping wet berry bushes were still sopping wet, which in turn soaked our legs. By the time we reached the top we were wet, and a little chilly. The only downside to our plan was that we hadn’t banked on the vast numbers of tourists and duly joined the long queue. Eventually we took our turn to stand on the line as the chair swept around behind us and we enjoyed one last long look at the view on the slow journey down.
Back at the chalet, we grabbed a coffee and decided to take in one of the films showing at the Theatre in the Sky (for some reason they don’t make an acronym of that…) followed by a pass through the gift shop and one last line-up to take the gondola down.
Distance: 7 km
Elevation gain: 300 m
Photos on Flickr