The day after my plane ride, it’s raining, and I wonder whether Vancouver’s legendary gray weather will interfere with my day of snowshoeing at Grouse Mountain. Vancouverites are incredibly resilient to the cold rain — locals proudly shun umbrellas in favor of Gore-Tex jackets with hoods.
So, in this spirit I find myself standing on snowshoes in the shelter of a cedar and pine forest, the trees blocking the intermittent cold rain. The fog and precipitation are reminders that this is, after all, a rain forest. With me is Jon Pearson, a Canadian Border Services agent who teaches skiing at Grouse in his spare time. I’m staring at a warning sign telling me to back away from an unseen but steep cliff face.
I recall the passengers in the tram that brings people to the mountain’s base and spectacular lodge; it was filled with skiers and snowboarders who showed no hesitancy about cavorting in the rain. I’m not immune to local custom, having intentionally left the hotel-supplied umbrella in my room. When in Rome. …
Grouse is a favorite of tourists because of its central location in North Vancouver and the fact that it’s accessible by city bus. A 20-minute drive gets you to the Super Skyride, a 100-passenger tram that ferries patrons 3,700 feet in just eight minutes — the preferred way in winter to visit the base lodge. (During all other seasons, the favorite local climb is the Grind, the world’s biggest stair climb.)
Pearson points at a cedar tree and explains why it’s been the building material of choice for northwest residents since the Native Americans first made a home here some 10,000-plus years ago. “Cedar wood is very moist to begin with,” he says. “Since they have so much water, they don’t take in much, so they don’t decay.” Maybe the same can be said of the Vancouver residents: They spend so much time in the rain, they are always a little soggy, and therefore they don’t even feel it anymore.