I'm still no pro, but I fell in love with hiking pre-marriage. The hobby then went by the wayside what with a couple of kids to look after, a husband who was out of town a lot, home renos, a recreational property, and so on. Sometimes life just gets busy!
After my divorce, I was fortunate enough to meet my BFF — whom I met coming off a hiking trail. She kicked my butt and had me hiking everyday all summer and into the fall with the occasional winter hike. We hiked like mad women! Small hikes, big hikes, crazy hikes, bushwhacking…we hiked almost daily and clocked many, many kilometers.
Two things that I’ve always known about myself are that I have a fear of heights and struggle with anxiety; regardless, I go and do as much as I can! Sometimes I reach the summit and sometimes I don’t. It’s never been about the destination for me but rather about the journey.
Yesterday I was excited to be invited out to hike Elk Mountain in Chilliwack. I had hiked Elk in the summer a few times and even in the dark for a sunrise hike, so I thought, “Great, I’m in!” Of course, everyone advised that I should bring spikes since the trail was icy and, since my spikes had served me well on previous icy hikes, I thought I was prepared. Little did I know that the ice on Elk was unlike any ice I had encountered on a trail.
About 1/4 of the way into the hike, the trail turned to sheer ice. At first I was OK, but as we hiked on, I realized that my spikes were not holding up as well as the crampons that everyone else had on. They did not dig down deep enough into the ice to provide me with the traction that I needed to navigate the slippery slopes. I kept on trucking thinking that maybe it was just my mind that was getting the better of me.
I managed to make it almost to the top. If this had been just another summer hike, I would have emerged out of the forest near the top to find a little goat trail with firmly packed dirt that I could use to skip my way up to the false summit and basically consider the hike to be completed. However, as I made my way out of the forest on this particular winter day, I found that the ground was covered in snow and that once dirt goat trail was slick with ice and snow; my heart started racing. As many others do, I find snow to be unpredictable. Not only did the sight of the trail creep me out, but I quickly glanced back and saw the steep hill behind me and began to panic. I couldn’t help but think, ‘How can I navigate this trail with a steep drop off and how will I get back down the mountain if my spikes have not been the best?” I felt trapped.
This (picture) was the viewpoint on Elk that I had reached. I snapped a quick picture, and then my mind started racing with fearful thoughts. My breathing was becoming labored, and I had to make an executive decision to turn around before I got too much farther up the goat trail. I had experienced panic attacks on other hikes, and I was able to identify this one before it became too severe. I knew that I should encourage the others in my party to continue to the summit while I turned back.
Once I got back into the forest to a safe point, I sat and drank my coffee, had a bite to eat, took a deep breath, and then began my descent down the mountain. I had to stay off the trail as it was a sheet of ice and, as mentioned, my inadequate spikes were of little use at this point. Gravity was against me, and I ended up sliding on my bum a few times which left me wondering how I would stop if I gained enough speed. I dug my heels in, got up, and carried on. I slipped and fell a couple more times, which afforded me some lovely bruises the next day.
Many on the trail offered help in several ways, and I’ll be forever grateful to them. I’m thankful for the kindness of strangers who saw someone in need and stopped to see how I was doing. I continued to go slowly and saw that I was making progress. As much as I tried not to, I got in my own head a few times and shed a few tears about the fact that I didn’t make it to the top but still did the hike as best as I could. I was embarrassed but proud of myself at the same time.
After slipping and sliding my way down for quite some time, I entered a part of the forest where the trail turned from ice back into dirt. At this point, I knew I was safe as I was almost all the way down, and I could take all the time I needed to safely return to the parking lot and the warmth of my car.
Hiking Elk in the winter Is a whole new ball game, which I learned the hard way. I wanted to encourage other hikers, whether beginner or pro, to know your limits and be prepared (bring really good spikes, unlike me - lol!) Sometimes you will have to turn back before reaching your destination, but remember that if you get out and only make it part of the hike... you’ve already won!
I'm far from an expert when it comes to hiking. However, I have a few years under my belt and what I know is you must respect nature and never take her for granted. I am also not one for hiking alone but these days hiking with friends seems to be a bit confusing with should I should I not due to our Covid restrictions. So I hiked alone today. Well sort of. I brought my big scary husky dog. I felt safe with her.
So these are the things you should do while hiking alone:
1) Complete a trip report. www.adventuresmart.ca/tripplanning/tripplan_a.htm
2) Carry your ten essentials. Including extra batteries for your head lamp, good shoes, layers, extra food & your phone with a battery pack ++.
3) Choose a popular trail that you know well.
4) Check the weather forecast before you set out.
5) I never tell anyone I am alone on the trail. If asked I say my group is ahead.
Today was my second time on the trail alone. I probably wouldn't do it on just any ole' trail. So I choose one I have done many times and one that I know is loaded with people. I just knew I had to get outdoors. These are trying times for all of us around the world. For me I need nature time. It is vital for my mental health. I am safe and always think of our Search and Rescue volunteers.
I am no way encouraging you to hike alone. If you do decide it's for you then follow the steps above.
Safe hiking always...
Since I was a child I remember having a fear of heights. It was who I was; I thought to myself, guess I’m stuck with it! Well true, I was stuck with it until I had no choice but to push that plunging fear of heights directly off a cliff and say I’m done with this BS.
The fear of heights gradually became worse as the years went on into adulthood and especially after I developed anxiety from a traumatic divorce. What topped it off and brought it to now a fear of driving over bridges, was a trip to beautiful Hawaii with my Mom. You’re probably wondering why relaxing in Hawaii would cause me to become worse....Have you ever heard of The Road to Hana?? It’s a long road that stretches miles along a cliff with breathtaking views of the plunging ocean below. It’s also one of the most dangerous roads in the world. So I decided to rent a Jeep with my Mom and drive the coast with the music playing and wind in our hair. Well that was until my anxiety and fear of heights got the better of me and I passed out driving and nearly drove us off a cliff. My Mom was quick with her reflexes and she managed to pull the emergency brake.
So this brings us to present day. How the hell can I be a hiker in BC with all these mountains?
It paralyzed me. I couldn’t be where my heart and spirit needed to heal, which was on top of a mountain with those beautiful views and freedom. When I met my boyfriend who is the most patient man I know, he never stopped encouraging me and believing in me. It was the determination in him that made me fight like hell to conquer this fear. If he could believe in me than why couldn’t I believe in myself. So I started climbing those mountains again slowly but never getting too close to the edge. Until one day something snapped inside me while hiking, The Chief in Squamish. I was determined to climb all 3 peaks and I wasn’t taking the easy way either. My boyfriend could see me shaking my head saying, “no f**king way” and he didn’t think at that point I was going to climb that ladder and chains but I couldn’t let him or myself down. I marched right up and I started climbing, I didn’t stop, I didn’t look down or to the side, I cried silently while I did it and I made it to the top. It was at that moment that I broke down crying with so many emotions. I was so proud of myself, so thankful he didn’t give up on me, so thankful I didn’t give up on myself. It was at that moment that I knew that this is only in my head and I’m a prisoner if I allow these fears or any fear define how I am going to live my life. It’s quite ironic that I HAD a fear of heights but my favourite place in the world is on top of a mountain. We all have fears that are keeping us from being who we really are or who we are meant to be. It’s time to face them head on. Be brave. Be courageous. Don’t give up on yourself because you’re amazing and you can do it!!
The Golden Larches
It's Almost that golden time...
One of my most favorite times of the year is seeing the Golden Larches. It's eye dropping beauty. What's a Golden Larch? Picture this...Blue skies, mountain air and trees draped in gold. These trees are part of the Pine Tree family but are found high on top of some mountains. They are 2000 years old. The trees needles change colour each season for a short time before falling off and leaving the ground in a rich gold carpet. You could even say a bright yellow. It is one of the most beautiful trees to see. Each year I make the time to see these trees and each year they take my breath away. So do you wanna see these trees? Here's two great spots.
Frosty Mountain-Manning Park: 16 km's return/800 m elevation
Park at Lightning Lakes, walk past the pit toilets and cross the dam bridge. You will see the trail to Mt. Frosty. It is a gentle constant climb as you zig-zag and switchback your way for the first 2 km. There are a few glimpses of Lightning Lakes down below. For the next 2 Km's the trail is on a 45 degree angle, is skinny at times and one side is wide open. Once at the 4 km's mark it becomes quite flat through the Wilderness Camp. There's a pit toilet at the camp and a few areas to rest. Have lunch or a snack and the Whiskey Jacks will gladly share your lunch. After the camp it's about 10 minutes to the Frosty Mountain sign post and its here as your turn the corner and you'll be treated with your very first Golden Larch. They just keep coming. Keep walking through the meadows to the 8 km's mark. On your right side there are valley views and Frosty inviting you for a summit. It's only 2 km's more to the top. The wind whistled, rocks tumbled down the valley and the Larches were magical. This hike is best done on a snow, frost free & blue sky day. Timing is everything but if you miss The Larches there's always next year.
Blue Lake: Northern Cascades, USA-2.2 miles/ 7 km's/1100 ft/320 m elevation
Start off on a wooded bridge with Blue Jays chirping you on. Dirt path followed by a wood bridge. Along a twisted path to another wood bridge. Again on a dirt path. Boardwalk and wood bridge dirt path. Series of boardwalks and in between dirt paths Just keep going as the trail passes rocks and then to an open view with Larches on the slopes don't forget to turn around as you look st the snow covered peaks. Once back in the forest the trail continues on dirt. Soon one Larch appears and then two and three along a rocky area. Larches like rocks and slopes. Soon after the views pop open with tons of mountain views. If it has snowed yu may need MICROspikes as the trail gets icy and there are some spots where you could fall down the slope. The lake comes into view. You can stay right for an upper lake view or go left and sit on the rock where Whiskey Jacks and little chipmunks come to visit. Don't forget to check out the tired old cabin at the entrance to the lake.
The hike up Frosty Mountain is a little longer and steeper but closer to get to. There's also the option to carry onto the summit of Frosty Mtn for an additional 4 km's return.
The hike at Blue Lake is a little easier but a longer drive. A very beautiful drive through the Northern Cascades. You'll need a passport. You also have the option to drive a short distance to a lookout after that pretty stunning.
Whichever hike you choose make sure you go. It's my favorite time of the year. The air is crisp and the colours are ah-mazing! Soon the Larches will turn and your window will about about three weeks to see them. Watch for my posts, it's almost Larch time. Happy & safe hiking.
Other Larch hikes in B.C. www.hellobc.com/stories/finding-golden-larch-british-columbia
September 16th, 2019
What’s in Your Pack-Winter Hiking
Winter hiking can be the most beautiful place to be. The snow glistens and sparkles, there’s frozen waterfalls and icicles and my most favorite are Seussical looking trees from the heavy snow. Yes, winter hiking/snowshoeing is magical, but the mountains are unforgiving, and you should be prepared.
The ten essentials should always be in your pack.
Hiking & snowshoeing should be fun but always respect nature.
Wells Gray Provincial Park
If you could go anywhere I would highly recommend Wells Gray Provincial Park. It was a fantastic road trip. We packed up my boyfriends truck with all our gear in totes in the back. With the seats folded down it made a nice bed area for my two Huskies.
Starting from the Vancouver we made our 451 km journey along the Trans Canada Highway (#1) and branched off to Highway 5 (Coq Highway) passing through many sights to see. We arrived in Kamloops and made our way to the Wells Gray Provincial Park. The first set of falls are well before the official park gates which are at 35.8 k. Stop in town at the Visitor Center to grab maps of the park area.
Top left: (10.8 km's) Spahats Falls are the first Falls you’ll see. It’s a 5 minute walk but there are trails around to make it a little longer. They are 141 meters high by 23 m wide. They are sitting deep in the canyon. Can you lean on the gates to get a good look at the canyon far below?
Bottom: (40.8) Dawson Falls is a 10 minute easy walk. It drops only 18 m but it’s impressive 107 m wide and is what draws you to its beauty. Don't forget to check out two viewpoints and walk the trail loops around it.
Top right: Hemcken Falls is a 2 minute walk. They were my most favourite falls in Wells Gray. These falls cascaded an impressive 73 m high by 8 m wide. You could barely hear them crash down. It was truly stunning. There is also a loop to complete here. Make sure you go to the wooden view point to get a closer look.
Don’t forget to check the many falls along the way. First, Second and Third Canyons which are found on some of the bridges you cross. There are also many hikes you can do within the park. There’s two camp grounds and a FSR you can stay at. The camp grounds range in prices and the FSR is free. The day areas are not for camping and roadside is crown land so no resting there. It’s a beautiful park. I highly recommend it.
We drove from The Vancouver area via the Coq Highway to Kamloops, Barriere, Little Fort & Clearwater. We came back through Clearwater, Little Fort, Barriere, Lillooet, Lytton, Boston Bar, Spuzzum, Yale, Hope and home. It made the trip back a little different and we saw tons of beauty. It was a fun 2 day road trip.
There are tons of trails to explore in Wells Gray Provincial Park. Here's a few:
-Trophy Mountain: 45 minute hike into the meadows.
-Moul Falls: Roundtrip 5 km
-Ray Farm: 3.9 km loop
-Bailey's Chute: 4.1 km loop
We will return next year to fully explore this stunning park.
Do you want to get healthy and fit? Do you keep saying next month…next year? This is your year, your ‘me’ time to get healthy. Commit yourself to a mile a day each day by walking, riding a bike, snowshoeing, hiking or cross-country skiing. Spending time outdoors has been proven to boost your energy while improving your mood, self-esteem and lowering your stress levels.
It’ll be super easy with a bunch of new friends to encourage you throughout the year. Here’s some benefits to joining the challenge:
This is an amazing community of uplifting people who are encouraging and will help you reach this goal. You feel better about yourself and the health benefits will alone be worth it. Make 2018 your year to take time for yourself. Do it for you, I call it self-care.
It all starts January 1st. Let’s lace up our boots or runners together and stroll our way to the 365 mile finish line. For more info and to sign up, click here: hikelikeawoman.net/product/365-mile-challenge-membership/
It's Larch Madness...again.
Have you ever seen a tree so golden in colour; so spectacular that you go back each year to see it all over again? Fall colours in the mountains are quite dramatic; oranges, red’s and yellow’s. Vibrant and amazing colors and with cooler temperatures and less bugs it makes fall a perfect time to hike.
My all-time favorite autumn hike is the Golden Larches. Their preferred location is dry, high, rocky and cold so each year I climb Frosty Mountain in Manning Park, BC Canada to see these beauties. It’s a small window to see these 2000-year-old remarkable trees. If you miss it, it will be a golden carpet below your feet and you will have to wait a whole year to see them. The climb is well worth it as their beauty is a red-carpet affair.
These Larches are conifers and part of the Pine family. The alpine Larches, found 2000 meters high in the mountain tops, are deciduous trees and each autumn they lose their needles but not before turning a bright golden colour. It’s truly a sight to see. You never know exactly when their colours will be prime. It’s usually end of September and or beginning of October. I once heard it called “Larch Madness.” During this time the trails are busy but still worth the trek.
You don’t have to travel to Canada to see them though. They are found in the Cascades and Rockies too. Some of the hikes are not tough as you can drive part of the elevation. Just get out and find your own yearly Larch hike. It’s worth every single step.
Lori Roberts aka Hiking for the Scaredy Cat, works in Surrey, BC Canada as an Education Assistant working with special needs students. In her spare time, she hikes & snowshoes in Whistler, Squamish, North Vancouver, Hope, Manning Park, Chilliwack and Washington and blogs her twisted trails at www.hikingforthescaredycat.com. She is also on Instagram, Twitter and FB. She has two Huskies and often takes them up the many Forest Service Roads in the lower mainland for fun adventures. “I’m really enjoying my role as an 2017/18 Ambassador for Hike Like a Woman. I’m thrilled and honored to have been one of twenty chosen out of two hundred who applied. It’s a dream come true! I look forward to the next year inspiring people to get outdoors and experience what nature has to offer. Happy & safe trails”
“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.” George Eliot
Black Tusk and Garibaldi Lake
By Emily Sayward
Last year my brother (and awesome hiking partner) Steven mentioned that he’d like to hike Black Tusk. Without even hearing any of the stats or seeing the pictures, I knew it was one I wanted to do. With a name as majestic as that, I knew it would be epic. In mid July we climbed it, and it did not disappoint. Located in Garibaldi Provincial Park, Black Tusk is the most spectacular mountains in the area, and I even dare say in this fine province of ours.
With over 1700m in elevation and nearly 30km in length, Black Tusk can be done in a day; however, some people prefer to hike to Garibaldi Lake or Taylor Meadows and camp overnight, and then hike to the Tusk the following day. With other overnights planned this year, we ran out of time and had to do with guy in one day. One lonnnnnng day.
Start your hike from the wooden steps in the upper section of the Rubble Creek parking lot. The manicured, well-marked dirt trail climbs steadily up switchbacks for the first 6km until you reach a junction. Going right takes you directly to Garibaldi Lake, and the trail to the left leads to Taylor Meadows (and eventually splits to go to Panorama Ridge or to Black Tusk).
Taylor Meadows is absolutely gorgeous and was a highlight for me. After the seemingly endless switchbacks, and the impending steep tusk, the flat, beautiful wander through the meadows of wildflowers was a nice reprieve. Looking back over your shoulder grants breathtaking views of Garibaldi Lake and the snowcapped Tantalus Range.
Eventually, you arrive at a junction with a map and wooden bench. Continue going straight along the trail for a short distance and watch for a sign and trail on your left that point the way to Black Tusk (continuing straight will take you to Panorama Ridge. Don’t worry though – this is all well marked on the trail!)
The trail to the Tusk from this point climbs quickly, passing over small runoff streams and evidence of rockslides that have occurred over thousands of years. After soaking in the stunning, lush, vibrant scenery, you virtually round a corner and the terrain changes completely into a treeless, rocky, shale and lava rock barren land that looks prehistoric. In the back of my mind I felt like it wouldn’t be impossible to see a T-Rex pop out from around the Tusk, and I overheard some other hikers say the same thing!
The trail leads you onto a small ridge at a BC Parks sign with a full view of Black Tusk ahead. The sign gives interesting facts about how the Tusk was formed, as well as informs hikers that this is the end of the maintained trail and to proceed with caution. It is easy to see where to continue from here as it’s a popular trail, but it is very tough (but fun!) from here to the top. Until now, though long, the hike has not been overly intense or grueling. This is where you’re going to make up for that!
The next section of trail is a scramble over very loose shale towards the base of the Tusk. The shale slides with each step you take making it seem like you slide back one step for every two steps you move forward. Imagine trying to run up an escalator that’s going down. It’s exhausting work, but there are two small ridges that you can stop at along the way for a break without fear of sliding down while you stop moving.
The trail eventually emerges onto a ridge next to the base of the Tusk that offers a scenic view of the entire area surrounding Garibaldi Lake. As you near the tusk, the trail narrows and each side has serious drop offs. Be careful. This is not for people with a fear of loose footing or heights. Slipping will have serious consequences here.
* Most hikers end their hike to the Tusk at this point before heading back. Although it is possible to make it onto the peak of the Tusk it is not recommended as it is extremely dangerous and discouraged by BC Parks. However, it is sometimes attempted by experienced rock climbers with the proper equipment and training. To reach the chute that you can climb to the top, follow the base of the Tusk, stepping carefully to make sure you don't slide down the hill. The shale is very loose and pulling yourself up through the chute generally pulls off pieces of rock from the Tusk. Even experienced rock climbers must keep in mind that they have to come back down this same route. You will need to bring proper gear including a helmet to do last part. * (copied from www.vancouvertrails.com)
After enjoying the view, it's time to head back down. What I liked about this park in general is that you can really make the day your own. The trails to Garibaldi Lake, Panorama Ridge, and The Black Tusk all cross paths many times, so you can decide what route you’re like to take. We stopped to talk with many hikers throughout the day and everyone seemed to be doing something different. We went to the tusk via Taylor Meadows, then to the Lake and back to the TH from there. Others did the opposite; or skipped the tusk and did the Ridge… you get the point. You could go many times and change it up each time.
If you have questions, feel free to email Emily at email@example.com and you can follow more of her adventures on instagram here: https://instagram.com/the_wandering_willow/
I work for Surrey School District as an Education Assistant. In my free time I enjoy hiking, snowshoeing, going off-road, dragon boating, writing & hanging with my huskies.