Hiking During a Pandemic

I always feel better when I’m outside, where the air is fresh and the sunlight provides a healthy dose of vitamin D.  Now that the COVID-19 virus is sweeping the globe, getting outdoors sounds better than it ever has.  Many of us are following the guidelines of “shelter in place” recommendations, working from home and limiting trips to the stores.  In most places however, it is permissible to hit the trail, if not encouraged.  An exception to this is hiking on trails with high foot traffic, that are not in your local area or hiking where you put yourself, and more importantly, first responders at risk.  So stay local, stay safe, but get outside if you can.  It will do wonders for your psyche.

I managed my first hike today since the shit hit the fan and I found it was exactly what I needed.  Hikes always feel good but this one was different, like I needed it.  Admittedly, it was a bit strange at times though, a woman went 15 feet off the trail to go around me, to maintain her distancing, albeit almost triple what is recommended.  This hike was in Boulder after all so I’m used to strange things happening out there.  Extreme social distancing aside, being on the trail and away from the news, it feels like nothing is happening out there in the world.  I remember reading about hikers that were down in the Grand Canyon during 9/11 with no cell service oblivious to the events happening above the rim.  When they eventually made it out of the canyon days later, they learned the terrible news of what happened and they recalled how strange it was that there were no planes flying overhead.  On this day, if it weren’t for hikers wearing N95 masks, you’d never know there was a pandemic going on.

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I admit that I do not understand any more than the next person about the virus and where the safest place to be is during all of this.  What I do know is that being outside, away from crowds is a good, and relatively safe place to be.  Just keep your distance, don’t touch anything, bring hand sanitizer,  gloves, and a mask and you can have a brief respite from the stresses of our new reality.

It’s important to keep our bodies and minds active and healthy during this time.  Get some air if you can and be safe out there!  So if you get a hike in, be safe, stay local, don’t take unnecessary risks, and obey the law!  In case you need a little inspiration, here are a few reminders of what’s out there…

 

Capilano Suspension Bridge – North Vancouver

If you do any internet search for the top things to do in Vancouver, the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park will surely come up.  It is as unique as it is popular, which is I guess what most people are looking to do on vacations right?  I do not typically like to go to the heavily touristed spots, mostly because they are normally quite crowded. But during the winter months at Capilano, the crowds are significantly less than in the summer.  I also don’t like to spend a lot for tickets and this place is pricey at $53.95 CAD per person.  However, we spoke to another couple while we were taking in a Vancouver Canucks hockey game when we first arrived and they said it was a must do, especially if you go at night during the winter when the forest is decorated with lights for what the park calls Canyon Lights.  So my wife and I decided to give it a go on a cold and rainy Vancouver night.

From the moment we walked into the place, we couldn’t help but notice how clean and organized it was, the word spotless came to mind. I was still skeptical if this was going to be worth the price of admission but once I saw all of the offerings, I started to feel quite encouraged.

Most people immediately head for the parks namesake suspension bridge but we decided to do the Cliffwalk first.  The walk is along a granite canyon face and is held in place with eight cables that are connected to a single anchor point. It sounds like it isn’t enough to keep you safe but when you see it, you just know it will do the job.  As I’ve written in previous articles, I have an issue with heights so this was a true test for me, and I didn’t pee myself! Down below on the rainforest floor the Capilano River flows, and while walking along the Cliffwalk I was in awe as I saw two eagles following above the curve of the water. It was an unexpected bonus.

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The Cliffwalk

Moving on to the suspension bridge, which takes you 230 above the Capilano River, you’ll sway for over 450 feet before planting your feet on terra firma on the other side.  The walk across the bridge was exciting and began to give the park a Swiss Family Robinson feel, which we really enjoyed. Beware of tourists stopping suddenly in front of you all along the bridge to capture that ‘perfect’ selfie shot.

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Capilano Suspension Bridge

Once on the other side, you’ll see what is called the Treetops Adventure which is seven smaller suspension bridges strung between the evergreens as high off the ground as 100 feet.  The Swiss Family Robinson feeling is now in full swing.

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Treetops Adventure

The park embraces native culture and you’ll find totem poles and other First Nations art on site.  If you manage to be here at night during the winter holiday season, you’ll be treated to lights all over the place, adding even more character to the park.

We spent over four hours in the park and enjoyed every minute of it.  It was expensive and a bit touristy but we loved it and it was so worth it.  So if you’re ever in Vancouver, you should definitely go to the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park.

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A Few Words on Glamping

Last summer, our family decided to take a weekend glamping trip up in the mountains of Vail Colorado, in the spirit of trying something different.  Glamping is the combination of two words, glamorous and camping.  When you glamp, you stay in tents with soft beds that have high thread count linens, wood floors, heaters for the cold nights, and electricity to charge your cell phone.

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Glamping is camping for those who prefer the finer things of life but also enjoy getting close to nature.  I’ve always felt like camping, whether in a tent, an RV or pop-up camper is great as it places you right smack in the middle of nature where you can just wake up and you’re already there.  For those who enjoy the great outdoors, nothing beats waking up and stepping outside to an alpine vista, the smell of the salty ocean air, or the sounds of a rushing river.  Glamping can give you those experiences, without having to own a camper or loads of gear. For some, the thought of sleeping on the ground isn’t appealing and others don’t want to invest in a camper/RV or all of the gear needed to have a proper camping trip.  When you go glamping, everything you need is already there and all you have to do is show up and camp.

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Just like normal tent camping, where you camp (or glamp) does matter.  For our trip, even though we were in the Rocky Mountains near Vail Colorado, we were on a treeless plateau where there really wasn’t anything to do.  If we wanted to go out for the day to go to town or do any sightseeing, we had to hike down (and eventually back up) a steep and long hill that switchbacked all the way down it was so steep. You aren’t allowed to drive your car to the top so the only option was to walk or wait for an ATV to pick us up to finally make it to a parking lot where our car was.  For this particular experience, we were hoping to be able to stay at the camp without feeling like we needed to leave for anything. but being on a treeless plateau, with the sun beating down relentlessly on the camp with temperatures in the 90’s didn’t give us the feeling of it being ‘luxurious’ camping. It was nice at night as the temperatures dropped and the tents lit up and we all sat in our Adirondack chairs looking up at the clear night sky.

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In doing the research for this glamping site, the pictures gave the appearance of being shady and more private than it was. It also didn’t mention the long trek to and from your car to get up to the top of the plateau. So choose wisely when selecting a glamping trip and make sure that the location and activities fit your lifestyle.  Ask specific questions regarding amenities and what is or isn’t provided.

This particular glampground (sorry, I couldn’t resist) was tailored more towards a western theme with horseback riding, ranch style buildings, and cowboy meals.  We are more of the outdoor adventure types who like to bike, hike, and kayak and I’m sure there is a glamping experience more catered to what we like to do.

My wife and I are split about doing this again or not.  She would like to try it again but I can only say that I’d be willing to.  To be honest, I’d rather either camp in our own camper or stay in a nice hotel.

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At least the sunsets were amazing!

 

What this blog site is about!

 

I decided to start a blog primarily to give myself an outlet for the things in life that I am passionate about. Travel is one of the things that get a hold of you and pulls you along on an adventure where you see new places, people, foods, and cultures. It started when I was kid, pulling the maps out of National Geographic magazines and just staring at them trying to figure out where I wanted to go in my lifetime. I still haven’t been everywhere that I saw on those maps yet but I’ve seen some amazing places so far.  While living in New Jersey as a kid, my parents took us camping all up and down the east coast and that helped develop my love of the outdoors (seriously, even living in New Jersey).  As a teenager in Colorado, we continued to travel around and got to know the state quickly.  I think the Great Sand Dunes ended up being my favorite destination in the state and it still is.

After I got married and had kids, the way we traveled (and how often we did) changed but we still managed some camping trips and the occasional escape without the kids. As the kids started getting older, we had more and more opportunities to get out and now that they are all in college and beyond, we are able to travel quite a bit more.

So what type of a traveler am I? I usually like a trip that has a blend of the outdoors and a little bit of the city. For example, on a recent trip to New Orleans, we stayed near the French Quarter during Mardi Gras which was fun but there gets to be a point where you just need to get away from the hectic life of any big city, but especially New Orleans during Mardi Gras. The perfect antidote to that was a day trip to do a little kayaking in the Bayou and visiting a former sugar plantation along the banks of the Mississippi. On the drive back to New Orleans that night, we had to dodge Mardi Gras parades while trying to get back to our hotel (unsuccessfully I might add). After about an hour and a half of trying to get around the parade, we ultimately ended up at NOLA brewery while waiting for the parade to end.  All’s well that ends well!

Speaking of breweries, they are another passion of mine. For one, I like to support local businesses whenever possible and the small micro breweries are almost always locally owned and operated. It can be fun trying local takes on brews, which sometimes use local ingredients to create unique tastes. Additionally and most of the time, I have found the food they serve to be better than many established restaurants would serve. Lastly, the atmosphere at many breweries can be the best part. Recently, I was able to visit Kona Brewing Company on the Big Island of Hawaii and I would say that the beer, food, and tiki torch-palm fringed laid back atmosphere made it the best brewery I have ever visited.

I will say that I am not a natural writer but I hope to make up for it by writing about interesting places with interesting things to do.  The blog topics will be diverse but will stay within a few primary genres: travel, outdoors, beer, and occasionally food. We’ll see what else comes to mind but that’s what I intend to focus on for now. I hope you like it!

Cheers,

Brian