Tuesday, July 27

Capilano Suspension Bridge

Since 1889 an impressive suspension bridge has stretched across the Capilano River on the outskirts of northern Vancouver. It was built by George Grant Mackay, a Scottish civil engineer and land developer, to enable him to reach his favourite fishing spot on the opposing face of the Capilano canyon. He'd already built an periliously balanced wooden cabin as a weekend retreat on one side of the canyon's edge. Today his bridge is a popular tourist attraction. And who wouldn’t want to give it a go? At least that’s what we told ourselves as we joined the crowd wobbling its way across the 137-metre long span that hangs a death-defying 70 metres above the gorge below.

The original bridge was built using hemp rope and cedar planks before being replaced by a cable bridge in 1903. Today’s bridge is made of reinforced steel safely anchored in 13 tons of concrete on either side of the canyon walls. They say the current model could support the weight of two fully-loaded jumbo jets. While that may be so it still wobbles like crazy! Poor Garry had to work particularly hard at suppressing his morbid fear of heights as we made our way across the bridge.

The view itself is almost worth conquering your fears. The bridge spans a picturesque canyon whose rocky slopes are smothered in towering, impossibly straight Douglas Fir trees, while down below a small stream rushes headlong to the coast over polished and flood-battered, bleached granite rocks – all of which look particularly solid and uninviting. On the opposite side two spectacular walking trails take you through a peaceful, native forest of fir and cedar trees.

This is no ordinary forest. We’re talking about 1300 year old trees, towering more than 200 feet above the forest floor. It’s a majestic sight. Dabbled sunlight filtering its way down through a sea of sturdy brown tree trunks. The size of these trees really only become apparent when you venture up into the canopy on a series of walkway suspended between the trees, almost 100 feet above the ground. It’s an unnerving experience to look down and see how high you are before looking up and seeing just how much more of the tree remains towering above you. These trees are tall!

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