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On a rainy day at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park in Vancouver, British Columbia, my partner and I took a step back in time.
Here, wood-carved faces of salmon and eagles peer down from lofty heights at Kia’Palano, North America’s largest privately-owned collection of totem poles. Exhibits accompany them, explaining the legacy of the First Nations culture and the people’s connection to the natural world. Polished canoes and other artifacts surround black and white portraits of the Squamish tribe — it was easy to imagine their presence in the fog, swirling among the trees.
Our next stop had a noticeably modern design. The Capilano Suspension Bridge is one of Vancouver’s most visited paid attractions, with more than 800,000 customers a year. The 460-foot-long footbridge soars 230 feet above the Capilano River and offers dramatic vistas up and down the gorge.
We walked its span, cautiously at first, feeling the surface beneath our feet gently wobble with each step. Our nerve grew stronger the farther we went, and we jumped to see how much we could make the deck move. Breathing in the pure evergreen air and feeling the low clouds against my face was exhilarating.
On the other side, a grove of stately old-growth Douglas firs welcomed us. Silently, a great blue heron padded alongside a trout pond, peering into its depths. We began the ascent to Treetops Adventure, a series of aerial walkways and platforms high in the rainforest canopy, reaching 110 feet at the tallest point. From that vantage spot, fellow visitors looked like colorful acorns on the forest floor.
After a somewhat quicker crossing back to the entrance, we decided to push our comfort with heights even further at the Cliffwalk. A spiral staircase deposits you at the precipice of a granite canyon, where a yawning semi-circle cantilever juts from the cliff face like a knowing smile. I was thankful for the anchor cables, and I unknowingly held my breath while staring at the distant fallen timber through a glass-bottomed floor.
When we got off, it was my legs that wobbled.