Industry expert: North Shore Rescue leader Mike Danks shares his best hiking advice for Vancouverites

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      As the team leader of North Shore Rescue, Mike Danks spends a lot of time outdoors searching for people and saving lives. He’s been doing it for over two decades, following in the footsteps of his father, who was a long-time member of the community-based search and rescue team.

      In between scaling the mountains on a regular basis, the father of three is also a firefighter with the City of North Vancouver. You might wonder how he has time to himself to enjoy the scenic hiking routes and trails in Vancouver’s beautiful back yard.

      “A lot of our recreating time is done through rescues that we’re on, which might sound a bit crazy, but we love to get out to the mountains,” Danks told the Straight by phone. “Every time we have a call, we’re getting out to the mountains in a beautiful country that we love and we’re helping people at the same time.”

      It’s not always serious business—he also enjoys going on hikes and being close to nature during his off time. Danks obviously has quite a few insider tips on hiking, and here are his top picks for everything to do with one of the most popular hobbies among outdoors-loving Vancouverites.

      Dank suggests jujubes for the kids, and Honey Stinger bars for the adults.
      iStock/Honey Stinger

      Best snack to bring on a hike

      “When I’m with my children, I bring jujubes, and that keeps them going. They love jujubes. I’m telling you, it motivates them. For me personally, I really like the Honey Stinger bars—the chocolate coconut is amazing, and it gives you energy and a good balance of natural food to keep you moving along.”

      Best place to grab a beer after a North Shore hike

      Altitudes Bistro
      Grouse Mountain

      “Typically for me, my quick hikes are up Grouse, and there’s no place better to grab a beer than the patio at the top. That is an absolutely 
      fantastic venue.”

      Best place to buy hiking gear and accessories

      Mountain Equipment Co-op
      130 West Broadway
      212 Brooksbank Avenue, North Vancouver

      “Highly recommend Mountain Equipment Co-op. Most of our equipment comes from there, and MEC is just a good all-around store that has good products and a very good return policy.”

      Wearing bright colours can save lives.

      Best colour to wear on a hike

      “I would say anything bright—a yellow or an orange. The reason for that is if you do get in trouble, you’re easy to spot, whether it’s someone looking for you on the ground or from the air.”

      Best items to bring on a hike

      “Food, water, and a light source are key.”

      Best hike in Vancouver that’s a hidden gem

      Hollyburn Peak
      Cypress Provincial Park

      “A hidden gem that people don’t often think about is Hollyburn Peak. I think that’s a really nice hike on the North Shore. It’s not super long and you get a great view from the top—not many people go up there.”

      Best hike with a view for taking amazing Instagram photos

      Tim Jones Peak
      Mount Seymour

      “It’s mostly in the alpines, so you get a lot of nice views all around and you can actually see how far the mountains go to the north. It’s a very long distance and there’s just an unlimited amount of peaks back there and it’s absolutely beautiful. You can look down onto Indian Arm, you can look west towards Crown, Camel, and Grouse [mountains]. It’s probably by far one of the better spots and it’s an easy to moderate hike you can take your entire family on.”

      The Lynn Loop hike can be short but sweet.

      Best beginner hike for young families

      Lynn Loop
      Lynn Headwaters Regional Park

      “It’s a really good one for younger families and a shorter duration. If you do the Lynn Loop, you can go along the river most of the way, and if that’s tuckered the kids out, you can head back that way and it’s very flat. If you want a bit more of a challenge, there’s also a bit of an uphill you can do the loop on.”

      Best thing to avoid when going on a long hike

      “Drinking the night before. We’ve seen it a lot with people, and they are absolutely dehydrated before their hike and it just doesn’t work out well. You need a good night’s rest and you need to be well hydrated before [the hike].”

      Best tip for going on a hike of any difficulty level

      “I would just say to make sure you do your research on the hike that you’re going to be doing and be adequately prepared for the hike.”

      Best advice you’ve gotten for scaling the mountains

      “This might sound crazy, but it’s to take your time and enjoy the scenery around you. I find a lot of the people who are getting on the North Shore mountains are always doing it for time—they are running as fast as they can and they are not looking around to enjoy how beautiful the world’s wilderness is.”

      A perfect celebratory meal.

      Best food to enjoy after a successful hike

      “A burger, fries, and a beer.”

      Best place to eat in Vancouver after a weekend hike

      Brown’s Socialhouse
      Various locations

      “It’s got great ambiance, great food, and a good drinking selection.”

      Follow Tammy Kwan on Twitter @ch0c0tam and Instagram @ch0c0tam.