Sunday, February 05, 2017

Bowen Lookout: Cypress Mountain.

This is definitely one of my favourite experiences in Vancouver to date: backcountry hiking in Cypress Mountain. Martin, my cousin Julien and I had made a plan to visit Cypress after a week of good weather and our trip to Grouse. Unfortunately at the last minute Martin came down with a cold after weeks of us feeling rundown and exhausted, so Julien and I went alone.

The drive to Cypress takes about 40 minutes from where we are in the greater Vancouver area. It wasn't a particularly sunny day at the start, but as you'll see in the photos, that certainly changed (and with a maximum of 11ÂșC that day, it truly was a pleasant day for it).

Hiking in snow is unfamiliar terrain for my feet as it is let alone with my recent ankle surgery, so Julien picked an easy, but no less beautiful track: the Bowen Lookout trail. A relatively easy 5km return, the Bowen Lookout trail rewarded us with stunning, clear views of Howe Sound, Bowen Island & the Gulf Islands, not to mention boundless beauty along the way. I can just imagine having a little picnic at the lookout during the summer (although you'll see the snow certainly didn't deter a group of four from sitting down to share some Earl Grey tea during theirs, I overheard).

Cypress had significantly more fresh snow (“virgin powder”) than Grouse. With so many fluffy pillows of the stuff—untouched save for a few fresh rabbit/deer prints—we couldn't help but stop to take photos off the trail. Adventuring with another photographer is always a lot of fun, because you're usually both just as willing to stop for photos. In our case, we may even go as far as to walk on a frozen creek*, accidentally sinking waist-deep into freezing water at an unsuspecting weak point...(spot the moment in the photos below). Julien got one back on me later in the afternoon, though, as he happened to be holding my camera when I lost my footing and slid onto my bum into the snow (softly, thank goodness).

*In all seriousness, walking on ice can be dangerous, as the water underneath can still have a strong current, taking you away and trapping you under the ice. Never risk your life for a photo—we knocked on the ice before stepping on it, and only ever stepped in areas we were sure would be safe or easy to get out of.

Since Borneo, I've only been able to do the occasional hike. Cypress reminded me of what I've been missing: much-needed time amongst nature, and the ability to connect with another human outside of a screen. I find hiking with one or two other people to be extremely enjoyable: there's so much time for conversation, you each get to walk away with a shared experience and stronger connection to each other. A smaller hiking group usually leads to better conversation, but in bigger groups, quality conversations tend to be harder to maintain, not to mention how slow the entire group would go if each of you are slowing to take photos.

Cypress Mountain is definitely one to visit if you'd love a walk with a view. Later on when my ankle is a lot stronger, we can come back and continue past Bowen Lookout to St. Mark's Summit—a more difficult, 11km return hike with higher elevation, but even better views.

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