Bears & Beaches, in North Vancouver

19 April, 2014 — I firmly believe that every place has its own beauty. If you sulk at the Prairies for not having mountain grandeur, for example, you’ll miss their own grandeur — that great rolling sweep to the horizon, under an infinite sky.

Even so, even so, there is something really special about the beauty of the B.C. coast.

I’m thinking about this as I set out for a Saturday morning two-phase walk in North Vancouver. Late afternoon I’ll be at the joyous family wedding that brought me west in the first place, but there’s time this morning for a quick loop on Mount Seymour, just behind Sally & Owen’s place, and a visit to the neighbouring community of Deep Cove.

First stop, the nearest street corner, for a sign that seems so out of place among these placid, homey bungalows.

Indian Trail Cres & Indian Trail Rd

But then look around, recognize you are on the street immediately bordering a trail into Mount Seymour Provincial Park, which sweeps thick and deep on up the mountain behind you — and, yes, the sign makes perfect sense.

(I once emailed Sally a photo of a raccoon sleeping in my birdbath. She replied with a photo of a black bear pillaging their bird feeder.)

I step between two homes onto the trail, into the woods, and suburbia falls away.

near Mount Seymour Provincial Park

Sunlight angles through the trees, creates momentary drama, and moves on. It’s a whole son et lumière performance, I realize: the shifting light dances to a backbeat of thudding woodpeckers and scolding red squirrels.

You have to look down, as well as all around.

mushroom log, Mt Seymour

I step into the shadowed forest cover for  closer look. Daisies? No, says Man-with-Dog, who stops to see what has caught my attention. Not daisies: tiny white mushrooms. And so they are.

Fleecy moss trails from tree branches just ahead, shimmering in the sunlight.

on Mount Seymour

It’s only 8:30 or so in the morning, but by the time I reach Old Buck Trail Head, the parking lot is rapidly filling with eager hikers. I turn back, collect my own car, and head for Deep Cove.

It’s the easternmost community at the eastern edge of North Vancouver, bounded to the south by Burrard Inlet and to the east by Indian Arm, components of the complex waterways twisting in from the Pacific Ocean that make this coastline such a jigsaw puzzle… and so achingly beautiful.

I know I’ll eventually walk along Deep Cove itself — nature’s Deep Cove, that is, the town’s defining waterfront — but first I follow a tangle of residential side-streets out of sheer curiosity. I find myself at a wooden stairway down to Indian Arm, and drop into a mini-parkette, slivered between two rather grand  homes.

Dollar Rd Park, Deep Cove

Here’s what I mean by “grand”: this pier is not part of the park, it belongs to the adjacent private property. But a cat can look at a king, and I can look at a private pier. I can also rock-walk my way closer, and peer between its struts.

view southward in Indian Arm

And I can turn around, look northward down Indian Arm…

northward in Indian Arm, nr Deep Cove

… and, picking my way back to the wooden steps, I can admire shells and seaweed caught in nature’s own still life.

on Dollar Rd Park beach

The town’s main commercial street leads you to Deep Cove and to Deep Cove Park, tucked neatly all around the the cove’s crescent shoreline. The whole area is  alive with boats, kayaks, hikers, dog-walkers, giggling teens and peaceful onlookers, heavy-lidded in the morning warmth and sunlight.

Deep Cove

I’m by the water, hear some whooping, look around… and there they are. Not Maori, not a haka, but doing their white, middle-aged-lady best to stir our blood along with their own.

kayak ladies warm-ups, Deep Cove

Warm-ups before a kayaking expedition!

A trim, glossy-haired 20-Something is watching them too. She is transfixed, dog leash to her impatient pooch slack in her hand. We catch each other’s eye, she crinkles up her face at me in delight. We agree. We are sort of amused, but also really, really impressed.

Several kayak rental shops here, kayaks laid out in clusters along the shore.

waiting kayaks on Deep Cove shoreline

I buy a latte, return to the shoreline, see a lifeguard perch flaming red in the sunlight, want a photo. And that would have been fine: a strong, angular focal point for a shot of boats, drooping tree branches and glinting water.

All good. But… generic, yes?

Then it becomes specific, and delightful.

on Deep Cove Park beach


That’s what it needed! Some real-life, boyish delight, hurling itself at the challenge. I watch a moment as he wriggles successfully to the lower platform, squirms across it on his belly, twists to U-turn his way upward to the higher platform. By now his father is hovering, but not — and I admire this — interfering. He lets the kid test his skills, and have a triumph.

It’s time to go, I have things to do. One last look back at the cove.

Deep Cove, on a sunny April morning

Enchanting, but I leave, and I’m fine with that.

Because soon I’ll be at the wedding, where the sun shines and the bride glows and her dad almost loses it in his toast to his beloved daughter and we are all happy together. It’s why I’m here.

Leave a comment


  1. I thought your use of the term ‘achingly beautiful’ sums up your tour perfectly. Great photos!

  2. I’m here. It’s a beautiful post. It makes me want to visit the North shore for coffee and doughnuts at Deep Cove. I must have walked in this path many times and thank you for taking me back down memory lane. Happy Easter.

    • Oh, what a wonderful compliment! I am so happy to think I brought back happy memories. Thanks for taking time to tell me this. And happy Easter to you

  3. Reblogged this on Daniel Langevin.


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    "Traveller, there is no path. Paths are made by walking" -- Antonio Machado (1875-1939)

    "The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes" -- Marcel Proust (1871-1922)

    "A city is a language, a repository of possibilities, and walking is the act of speaking that language, of selecting from those possibilities" -- Rebecca Solnit, "Wanderlust: A History of Walking"

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