I got out of the airport around 12:30pm, happily greeted my boyfriend I hadn’t seen in 3 months, then we were off. We didn’t have much time: we had to be up Grouse Mountain and ziplining by 4pm.
Perhaps it was a tad silly – or, plain stupid – to organise something so soon after we both landed, but we had to pack in as much as possible over the 2 weeks we’d be road tripping from Vancouver in Canada down to San Francisco in California, USA.
Vancouver impressed me right away with a free shuttle from Canada Place in the city centre to Grouse Mountain, about half an hour away. Perfect.
Once we were strapped in to what felt like a massive diaper on a harness, and my GoPro somewhat secured onto my helmet, it was time for the ziplining. This was the first moment I actually got nervous. I think I see a pattern developing: I’m all for an activity, extremely excited, until up to an hour beforehand, when I suddenly worry that the equipment, the guide, bodily functions, my capacity to follow instructions, or nature will fail on me. Luckily with ziplining, worry only flickered when I was on the platform… and at that point I didn’t really have time to think about whether anything bad would happen if I swallowed a bug mid-flight or if I was likely to catch my long limbs on tree branches.
Step by step on each of the 5 lines, you go through the routine: get hooked up, sit back in your
diaper harness (which feels like a really odd thing to do when you’re about to swing yourself into oblivion), practice the in-flight and brace position, hold up your hands to make sure you’re secure, funny words from guides, then go.
Zooming through a thick forest of trees still in full summer mode stacked on mountain after mountain is exhilarating. For a long time leading up to this trip, I felt pretty stagnant in my every day life – I wanted to move, feel some freedom, and ziplining was definitely a great start to that. As you’re ziplining, you hear the whistle of the air and feel it through not only your hair but your whole body: when you put your hands out, it’s like the air’s trying to escape your catch, playing a game with you. Then there was the glint of the afternoon sun – I’m sure it was influenced by my happy state, but it bounced off every object and made me want to sit back and bask in it.
Uh, no time. Can’t relax too much when LEGS UP, CHIN FORWARD, CRASH and recoil. I always braced a bit too early just because I knew each line had a different impact and I wanted to be ready for it. Each time, my GoPro swung forward to capture my stunned face post-zipline.
What surprised me was that even though ziplining sounds like an adventure and an adrenaline rush (which it is), it actually felt completely relaxing – if you take out the hiking to each new line. That wasn’t relaxing at all. My answer to the strange chilled vibe is maybe because of our location on Grouse Mountain. I had a sudden memory of Christmas, and realised it was because of the pine trees. Now, as a Londoner, I only ever smell pine at Christmas, so it was a completely overwhelming, sensory experience to have hundreds of pines bundling up my nostrils. It was refreshing, a little sweet in their masses, and delicious.
Thank you to our guides Ryan and Lee, who were very fun and handled an international group of all sorts of personalities really well. Grouse Mountain is incredibly beautiful and wish I could have explored it more! But hey, I think ziplining from one mountain to another (Grouse to Dam) is good going for one afternoon.