Our First Retreat: Summiting Mount Gardner on Bowen Island
On Sunday, August 25, we hosted our first retreat: a one-day retreat to Mount Gardner on Bowen Island. Here is a look inside the day.
MEET AT HORSESHOE BAY
The retreat began at the Horseshoe Bay Ferry Terminal in West Vancouver. The 9 womxn started arriving bright and early. Most womxn came on their own and despite having just met they quickly found common ground with each other. The conversations didn’t stop all day!
Shortly after 9:00 am, we excitedly boarded the small ferry to Snug Cove on Bowen Island.
THE ADVENTURE BEGINS
Twenty minutes later we arrived on Bowen Island and were greeted with sunshine! We started our hike - and our watches - a short walk away from the ferry terminal in Crippen Regional Park. Within minutes, meaningful conversations were shared and deeper connections were formed between the womxn.
We enjoyed 30-40 minutes of gentle walking on rolling terrain in the park as we made our way toward Killarney Lake, stopping for photos and taking in the views along the way.
climbing to the summit
After a short stop at Killarney Lake - the last outhouse on the out-and-back trail - we continued partway around the lake to the Mount Gardner Road trailhead. Then the climbing began! The hike to the summit of Mount Gardner is 18 km roundtrip with an elevation gain of 720 metres, slightly less than Vancouver’s Grouse Grind.
While the start of the climb is a bit of a slog along a gravel road, that doesn’t last for long. And as our founder Danielle will tell you, there’s always a flat section coming up! We spent the next several kilometres climbing up and down in the forest. The womxn worked together, encouraged each other, and stopped along the way for water and snack breaks.
reaching the top of mount gardner
Close to three hours later we reached the top of Mount Gardner together: the highest point on Bowen Island. The clouds cleared, the sun was shining, and we were treated to panoramic views of the Sunshine Coast, Howe Sound, Burrard Inlet, and West Vancouver. We could all agree: it was worth the climb.
We enjoyed a nourishing lunch sitting on one of the helicopter pads, taking in the views, laughing and chatting, and soaking up the sunshine. There was of course also time for a mountaintop photoshoot!
RETURN TO SNUG HARBOUR
What goes up must come down. Despite our efforts to hitch a ride down on the mountain bikes nearby! 45 minutes later we began our descent down Mount Gardner. Fortunately the time flies when you have a group of womxn to distract you - and tacos and ice cream waiting for you at the end.
We arrived back in Snug Harbour with 20 minutes to spare before the next ferry ride: just enough time to stop at Tell Your Friends Cafe for Elysian Coffee and Branch on Bowen for Earnest Ice Cream and fresh tacos. Is there any other way to end a hike!
We boarded the 5:10 pm ferry and started our trip back to Horseshoe Bay. The group sat on the upper outside deck, sharing our favourite moments from the day, and revelling in what we accomplished. Danielle was left smiling from ear-to-ear as guests shared how relaxed, and yes how renewed they felt!
saying our goodbyes
We said our goodbyes in Horseshoe Bay with womxn exchanging Instagram handles, phone numbers, and promises to see each other again soon! We couldn’t let anyone leave empty handed - goodie bags were a must. Guests went home with WOASH Tea, Organika Health collagen, Outdoor Wipes, and cold 52 North Birch Water.
When you bring a group of womxn together for a day away from the city and into the forest, magic happens. Thank you to the 9 incredible womxn who made our first retreat so special and so much fun! To share this day and our love for the outdoors with you is truly a privilege. We can’t wait do it all over again.
Join us on our next retreat: September 15
New to hiking and not sure how or where to start? Our next retreat is designed just for you.
Learn to hike safely and with confidence at Renew Retreats half-day holistic hiking retreat for beginner womxn hikers: Sunday, September 15 from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm in Lighthouse Park. Included in your registration: Hiking 101 workshop on Wednesday, September 11 from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm in Vancouver.
No prior hiking experience necessary. Learn more and register here.
Located along the shores of West Vancouver, Lighthouse Park is the perfect place to begin your hiking journey without skimping on the views. Enjoy a 2-hour guided hike with Renew Retreats founder Danielle Leroux and a group of like-minded womxn. Light snacks, event photography, and more also included.