With a second job interview on the other side of the country still a week away, we had some time to play with. Taking the decision to make the most of the urban Vancouver area, we decided to decamp from Vancouver itself, and head across Burrard Inlet to North Vancouver and its selection of outdoor focussed activities for a few days.
For this we hired a car for one day. Not only did this allow us to move our stuff without the faff of using public transport, but it also meant that we could get to one location that wasn’t well served by public transport. In our usual tradition, and following previous hire cars such as Harris the Yaris, Mustang Max and Kia Maria, we named our hire car. Being a Hyundai Sonata I thought the name was obvious. So hello Frank Sonata…
Once we had moved our lives into our great AirBnB accommodation, we headed to Mount Seymour Provincial Park as this was not served by buses at all. We took the road all the way to its end in the heart of the park, and found that we were virtually all alone. We were clearly there in that ‘no man’s land’ period between the summer hiking months and the winter skiing season.
We had read good things about the hike to Dog Mountain. A 2 hour round trip and with minimal elevation gain, it seemed ideal. Reading others’ experiences online, it seemed that it only gets tricky if it’s been raining, when the exposed rocks and tree roots get slippery. This is Vancouver though, so of course it had been raining!
The walk started off fine, but we soon found ourselves clambering down what appeared to be a temporary waterfall created by all the rain. After a while, we reached the halfway point at First Lake, which was OK in its own sense, but it was no Moraine Lake, Lake Louise or Emerald Lake.
We didn’t linger long as we realised that time was against us (this would become an important theme later on…) and pressed on. Along the way we passed through the low lying cloud, and made the occasional wrong step into thick and sticky mud as we navigated the deteriorating path.
Just when we thought that we never going to make it to the peak of Dog Mountain, we made it and broke out into the open and onto a rocky outcrop overlooking the city of Vancouver below. Well, it should have been Vancouver, but it was mostly covered in cloud! We hung around for 10 minutes, and whilst there the cloud started to clear, revealing glimpses of the city and the sea below shining away under the low lying sun.
We now had around an hour to race back down the mountain to Frank Sonata before the sun went down. We left the peak of Dog Mountain, and soon came across a couple coming in the opposite direction. They happened to be walking their dog. So we got the ultimate satisfaction of seeing a dog on Dog Mountain.
Racing back through the trees and mud, the lowly sun created some lovely scenes as it peeked through the trees. However, as we were reaching the end of the walk, we suddenly found ourselves in a location we didn’t recognise and were prevented from going further by some fairly impenetrable bushes and trees. Having looked around, there were no obvious outlets for a path or the usual orange path markers nailed to a tree.
With the light fading by the minute, losing the path was something of a concern. I was confident though, as on the flight over in September, I had the foresight to wisely watch a Bear Grylls programme about survival in the Canadian wilderness.
Getting lost was all the more frustrating given that through the tree canopy we could see the roof of a building in the car park that was only around 200 metres away! Being a qualified geographer though, I used my inbuilt compass (the one which had got us lost in the first place), retraced our steps, and found the actual path.
We walked out of the forest triumphantly, delighted that we had avoided a Michael Buerk ‘999’ style wilderness rescue scenario. Safely back in Frank Sonata, we headed back home, where we dried off our damp boots and clothes in front of the fireplace and played some Scrabble.
We never did see the couple with the dog again. Wonder if they became one last meal for a hungry bear before it entered its winter hibernation?