With no free breakfast, the only way to go was to pick up a coffee and breakfast sandwich at the Starbucks downstairs and head out right away.
The Gruelling Grouse Grind
One thing I’ve always wanted to do in Vancouver is the Grouse Grind – 2.9km stretch with 853m of elevation gain and 2830 stairs that starts at the base of the mountain and takes you to the top where the main base of the ski resort is. I arrived there just before 10:30AM and took me a little under an hour and a half to make it to the top. The climb itself is the most grueling thing ever and smacks you in the face early on. At the beginning you feel like you can take a strong steady pace up but after going hard for so long and only reaching the ¼ marker you realize that you’re in for a shit show. The worst is when you get to the ½ marker and you’re dying already from sweat and lack of breath. I just had to stay strong, maximize time between breaks and just keep pushing. Things get much better after the ¾ marker and before you know it you’re at the top. Coincidentally I bumped into Henry along the trail. He told me the night before that he’d be doing it but the timing worked out that we met along the way. I was full of sweat at the top but the feeling of accomplishment made it all worth it.
After the Grind I had picked up lunch at the cafeteria and then headed over to customer service to inquire about the reservation I had made for tandem paragliding. My reservation was for the 1:30 slot and they asked me to be there 1.5 hours earlier. What I ended up finding out was that the weather conditions weren’t favorable for paragliding and that they’d have to re-evaluate at 1. They told me to stick around or eventually make my way up to other peak. I strolled around the base area, checking out the grizzly bear habitat along the way, before taking another lift up. At the top the lady working there told me that their paragliding guy was double-checking the wind conditions so I walked around some more while taking photos. They have a huge wind turbine up there with an observation deck at the top, which I thought was pretty cool. I waited some more but in the end she said the guy called off paragliding for the whole day to my dismay. So that messed up my plans for the afternoon. As I got down from the lift, a lumberjack show was starting so I stuck around for that. Afterwards I went back to the customer service office to get my refund and then took the gondola back down to the base. The good thing that came out of it was that the lift and gondola rides ended up being free.
With my plans somewhat ruined I had to come up with something quick. What came to mind was a place called Deep Cove that Joanna had mentioned. It was also in North Vancouver so it didn’t seem to be too out of the way. Deep Cove was absolutely beautiful. There’s a tiny Main Street type of deal that runs through it and takes you straight into the cove that has a small beach and a nice park overlooking it all. I eventually found the kayak renting place but found out that they were all booked or taken out. I then inquired about the paddle boards and they said those were available so I decided to take one out for an hour.
Paddle boarding was such an awesome experience. I had never done it before but after a 30 second primer by the guy setting my gear up I kind of had it figured out. The balance feels a bit awkward at first as you really have to watch where you put your weight when you put your force into the down stroke of the paddle but other than that you’re just coasting along. I took a look around the inner cove area and with some extra time to spare at the end I just lied down on the board to soak in the sun rays and doze off a little. It was certainly a nice relaxing way to end off the day. I would definitely try paddle boarding again some day.
After returning my equipment I finally found some wifi and was able to contact Jess, who is an old friend from my Shad days. It was a bit ghetto though because I couldn’t really dial out because I was still using my Hong Kong SIM card so the only way to chat through e-mail. We didn’t plan anything beforehand so we figured out something last minute and agreed to just meet up at her place.
Before heading out I found a shave ice place run by a Korean lady. She was super nice and I even gave her some tips about flavors, combinations and styles since I had seen so much along the way.
Meeting an Old Shad Valley Friend
I met up with Jess at her place and we walked to a local sushi restaurant she frequents. Again, like the previous night I hadn’t seen Jess since 2006 so it was great to catch up.
For dessert we went back to her place to grab her car and we drove down to Sweet Revenge for dessert. This was a weekday and still the place was packed to the max. We would have had to wait longer if we didn’t bump into one of Jess’ high school friends who had just got a table. We just squeezed in and made it a table for 4 instead of 2. The dessert here looked fantastic. My crème brule was decent but wish I had more stomach to try some of the other desserts.
I went home after that and packed up to get ready to head to Seattle the next day.
- Grouse Grind – not for the faint of heart. It’s not an easy hike up by any stretch so be prepared and stay hydrated. Start early in the day to avoid the afternoon heat. Parking wise there’s a free lot on the right side as you’re coming in. It’s not paved. You’ll spot it really easily.
- Paragliding cost $229 at Grouse Mountain and would have been a fun experience if I actually got to do it but sadly I can’t say too much about it since they cancelled on me. I guess just don’t be expected if that happens because safety really is dependent on how the wind conditions are the day of.
- Deep Cove – beautiful place to spend an afternoon. If you want to do kayaking at the main shop make sure you make reservations beforehand as they were all booked when I showed up late in the afternoon.
- Sweet Revenge is a tiny dessert shop but is the kind of place I wish we had in Toronto. Great place to lounge and awesome desserts of course.
- Grouse Grind
- Explore Grouse Mountain while waiting for paragliding
- Paragliding cancelled
- Deep Cove
- Rent a paddle board for an hour
- Dinner with Jessica at a sushi restaurant
- Dessert at Sweet Revenge
- Evening at Sheraton Vancouver Airport
Check out the Next Day
To read about my adventures driving down to Seattle, check out Day 87 – Seattle – We Meet Again.
Curious what else I did on my trip to Asia? See the full itinerary and all 89 days.