My 4.5 Year Old Niece Climbed A Mountain This Weekend. What Did You Do?

My sister, her bf and my niece1 were in town this weekend, just to visit little ole me! And we had a freakin’ blast!

They arrived on Saturday morning and I was there at the airport to greet them and to give Madeline a ride in my Smart car! Being only a two-seater, Smarts come with a weight sensor in the passenger seat so that if you are giving a ride to a kid in a car seat, the air bag is deactivated. A quick stop at my house to drop off my car and pick up my bag, we headed to the Hotel Vancouver, where we stayed for the weekend. And after checking in to the hotel, we did what anyone who just got up at the crack of dawn to travel across the country would want to do – we climbed a mountain! The Grouse Grind to be exact.

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Requisite photo of us before we start the Grind. I think I have a photo of me with everyone with whom I’ve ever done the Grind in front of this sign.

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Madeline doing her best bear claw pose.  We’d told her that there were some grizzlies bears we could go to see at the top of the mountain (hence the bear hat)2.

People on the Grind who saw us with a 4.5 year old reacted with either judgementally judginess (“Are you planning to carry her 3/4 of the way??3) to amazement (“She’s doing great! I brought my 10 year old daughter, and we had to turn around at the 1/4 mark”4)

We finished the climb in 1 hr 59 mins  33 seconds. And that includes many a water break, plus about a 5 minute stop to eat granola bars.  ‘cuz who doesn’t like a little carbo-reloading along the trail?

Once at the top, we wanted to savour the accomplishment, take some photos and just enjoy the moment.  Madeline – she wanted to see the grizzly bears.  No recognition of having climbed a mountain and how impressive that was.  Just grizzly bears.

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We asked a woman who was selling gondola tickets5 at the top of the Grind how to get to the grizzlies.  She told us that we could go around the building to the right, but it was a bit of a rocky hiking path, or we could take the long way around to the left, which is smoother.  “With the little one,” she said, “you might want to take the smoother path.”  Uh, we are at the top of a mountain that she just climbed!!  I’m pretty sure she can handle a few more steps of hike-y goodness!

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One of the Grouse Mountain grizzly bears. I’m not sure if this is Grinder or Coola6, but I can say that they look *a lot* bigger in real life.  Their claws are as big as my head!

It was mother flipping cold up on that mountain, what with it being September and all7, but we hung around long enough to see the bears, get a beaver tail and some hot chocolate and watch the end of the horribly overacted lumberjack show.  At this point, we could no longer feel our hands due to the cold, and so we headed for the gondola.  The entire gondola ride, Nancy just kept repeating, “I can’t believe we just climbed that!”

At the bottom of the mountain, there are some timberwolves8 and Madeline was as excited to see them as to see the bears.  The timberwolf we saw was howling, so that was even awesomer than just your regular run-of-the-mill wolf.

After that, we headed back to the hotel for some quick showers so that we could then head out for dinner. Unfortunately, when you combine a 3 hour time difference and a 2 hour mountain hike, Madeline was out like a light by the time we’d all showered.  Like, unwakeably asleep.  So Jeff generously offered to stay back at the hotel with our sleeping beauty while Nancy and I went for sushi with Tod. 9

Sunday consisted of an early morning swim for Madeline and Jeff (while Nancy and I slept!), the Madeline went for breakfast with her dad (who has just moved to Vancouver from Toronto) while Nancy, Jeff, Tod and I went to the Omlettery for our own delicious breakfast. And then we picked up Madeline and I made everyone come to watch me play hockey!  To reward their kindness in coming to watch me play (as none of them could really care less about hockey10, I scored a goal!  It was my typical “screen the goalie, wait for someone with a good shot to make an attempt and then pick up the garbage rebound and shovel it ungracefully into the net.” But a goal is a goal and I gots me a goal!  Yay me!

After that we went to White Spot for a late lunch so that Madeline could have a Pirate Pack and then off to the swimming pool at the hotel again.  By the time we were done that it was time for dinner, so off we went to sushi and Madeline, poor kid, fell asleep pretty much as soon as we got to the restaurant.  Sushi is one of her favourite things to eat and the poor kid missed both our sushi dinners!

Monday I had to work, but I decided to work at home ‘cuz (a) I had some writing to get done for a Tuesday meeting and it helps to be away from the distractions at my office to do that and (b) I could save the time I would have spent commuting and spend that with my fam.  More swimming, coffee at Caffè Artigiano and Indian buffet at All India capped off a most awesome trip!

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Madeline enjoying some steamed milk at Caffè Artigiano

An older gentleman started talking to us at Caffè Artigiano and before we left he wanted to give Madeline a toonie11, so he asked her, “What’s 1 and 1?”  Without missing a beat, she replied, “Eleven.”

That kid rocks!

  1. or “Team Nancy” as Tod called them []
  2. the bears, for the record, are in an enclosure. We weren’t just taking the child out into the woods to sneak up on any grizzlies! []
  3. to which we responded, “She’ll be carrying us!” []
  4. When we were nearing the top, we told Madeline she was doing an awesome job, to which she replied, totally straight-faced, “Yeah, not like that man’s 10 year old daughter. []
  5. you can buy a ticket for $5 to ride the gondola back down, rather than trying to walk down the Grind which, while some people do it, is pretty much insane []
  6. I thought their names were Bella and Coola. Grizzly name knowing FAIL! []
  7. stupid autumn []
  8. like the bears, they are in an enclosure []
  9. Thanks Jeff!  You are super nice! []
  10. except for Tod. I’ve turned him into a hockey fan! []
  11. for my American readers, a “toonie” is our two dollar coin in Canada. Yes, we have a two dollar coin []