Some of the best decisions are made on a whim. Not enough time to second guess yourself, just enough time to go with your gut. So when I realized I had a week off without plans, I booked myself an Airbnb and took off for Canada.
I had blue skies the entire way there and once I got past the traffic of Seattle I found the mountains dancing and flirting with me to my right. Why is it that any stop on the side of the road finds the perfect way to cover up the view you once had no more than 2 minutes ago? It is times like this that I wish I owned a drone so I could take a shot where I might be too short to have a view.
When I got to the border after over 8 hours of driving and fighting traffic, they made me pull over and they searched Carol the Carolla! "So you drove up from Portland. By yourself. In a car not registered to you. And your plans are just to go hiking. By yourself. And you didn't bring anything to protect yourself...?" Uh, yes, yes, yes, yes, and no I did not unless you count my pocket knife, sir. There was a lot of sitting and waiting and a lot of different people asking me the same questions. But after just under an hour, they let me go and I was in Canada for the first time ever!
Day 1: everyone seems to know that I'm not from here. I must figure out a better way to bled in. I made it to the Garibaldi Mountain area but the almost three mile road to the trailhead was closed off by snow. Even with my snow shoes that adds 5 miles round trip. My 12 mile hike just turned into a 17 mile hike. It was later than I hoped it would be by the time I laid eyes on the trailhead sign but I just hiked my way through three feet of snow to get here and I was prepared. I would make it to the top of it was the last thing I do.
Already snow blind and exhausted, I started up the trailhead clear of snow. In the shadows of the trees there was nothing but frost lining the dirt until the snow came back in patches, lining the trail like a carpet growing to guide me to the top. Every once in a while the mountain would peak though the trees and I would perk up in hopes that a view was coming, but no view ever came.
By 3:30 I was still miles of uphill hiking away from the top without any flashlights. FLASHLIGHTS. I knew I forgot something. I decided to be an adult and head back so that I don't have to walk through the woods alone with absolutely no source of light and a dead phone. I will be back Garibaldi, and next time I will destroy you.
Day 2: I feel like I haven't accomplished anything in the 24 hours I've been here. It's time to check a few things off the list. It's a Monday so thankfully all the busy areas have cleared out. Capilano Park and the Sea To Sky Gondola were the two major items on my list but there were so many parks north of Vancouver that I found myself stopping every ten minutes to find another road along the coast with the perfect view of the surrounding mountains. I had the perfect vantage of every mountain surrounding me from the summit lodge at the top of the Gondola. I also learned that there is back country access up there! I'll just add that to the list. I did a few hikes but my favorite was the Wonderland trail. I had it all to myself and I found a nice open view of the Sky Pilot Mountain and just sat for an hour enjoying the clouds moving past the peaks and he sound of snow shivering off the pine trees around me.
Day 3: it's time to go back to America. My cats need me. But first, I will make a pitstop in Washington. I drove out to Winchester Mountain in the Mt. Baker area. It turned into a one lane road with ice and snow. I put my chains on feeling like a pro after the last debacle I faced with them, and I kept on going up. That was when I saw multiple tire tracks retreating from the deepening snow. Another failed mission. Realistically if I stopped here and hiked up I would add another 6 miles round trip. That's doable... But if he conditions are bad down here, what's it going to be like on the top of the mountain? It's time to turn back. I took a 20 point Austin powers turn in the snow and made my way back the way I came. I decided to go snow showing up near the lodge at Mt. Baker and learned that snowshoeing is more fun when you don't have a trail to follow. You pioneer your own trail and let others follow in your footsteps. I climbed up, up, up with blue skies overhead and just a heated jacket to keep me warm. All is well in mountain country.
Day 4: home sweet home, being greeted by headbutts from fluffy kitties is the best way to make it home. I was only gone for 3 days but it felt like weeks. Dear Canada, I'll see you again soon. Love, your admirer.
P.s. Here is a list of my favorite things about Canada:
• The Forest Service is called the Ministry of Forests. Forest rangers in Canada are Forest Wizards. I'm not even mad.
• The customers office in Canada is called The Nexus. Do all Canadians play Protoss?