Following my close encounter with a bear at Lake Tahoe last Christmas, I was a little perturbed by all the signs around Vancouver warning of the possibility of coming across a bear as you walk merrily along a maple-fringed country path minding your own business.
However, after spending a week there, I have discovered that, while there are lots of bears in and around Vancouver, luckily they’re all the type that I can easily run away from.
Aside from ursine threats, Vancouver is a very safe and very beautiful place. It’s really outdoorsy, with lots of parks, cycle tracks, and hiking and it’s surrounded by mountains with fabulous views. Getting carried away by all this natural beauty, and forgetting my aversion to heights, I signed up to do the Capilano Bridge Walk, which has a suspension bridge, a treetops walk through the rainforest and a ‘gravity-defying cliff walk’.
It’ll be fine, I thought, from the safety of terra firma as I booked my ticket online. But when I arrived and saw how the suspension bridge was wobbling, I began to have second thoughts. And then I saw the sign that said ‘Danger! Extreme nature ahead.’ Now, I do enjoy nature, but I have to admit that I prefer ‘moderate nature’, or possibly even ‘dull nature’ … nothing that gives you palpitations and makes you hope you left your will and your funeral instructions in an obvious place.
I managed the suspension bridge by clinging on doggedly to the side and plodding forwards without looking down. But then I saw the treetops walk, even higher up, and gave a gulp.
But, although it was higher, the treetops walk was better because it was in small sections, so you could screw up your courage and then dash from one platform to the next.
The final final endurance test was the cliff walk, which is a suspended curved bridge jutting out from the canyon wall. Apparently it’s intended to give people a rock climber’s view of the rainforest but from a slightly less precarious position. I have to say that it was petrifying – and not helped by a large group of people who hung around at the end taking photos and blocking the exit, so a massive queue built up. It took all my resolve not to start screaming and elbowing everyone else out of the way as I dashed towards solid ground.
These aren’t my photos, obviously. My hands were shaking far too much to be able to take any pictures. (And as a footnote, when I went online to find some photos, and typed in ‘Capilano Cliff Walk’, the first item that popped up was ‘Capilano Cliff Walk Death’, so I’m glad I didn’t know about that beforehand.)
To celebrate suviving the ordeal I joined the queue at the best pancake house in town, and had the most enormous, delicious pancakes with maple syrup.
According to research, fat and sugar-filled foods have a feedback effect that dampens stress related responses and emotions. So this wasn’t greedy or self-indulgent, I was just following the doctor’s advice and self-medicating.