All Nonfiction Bullying Books Academic Author Interviews Celebrity interviews College Articles College Essays Educator of the Year Heroes Interviews Memoir Personal Experience Sports Travel & CultureAll Opinions Bullying Current Events / Politics Discrimination Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking Entertainment / Celebrities Environment Love / Relationships Movies / Music / TV Pop Culture / Trends School / College Social Issues / Civics Spirituality / Religion Sports / Hobbies
- Summer Guide
- College Guide
- Author Interviews
- Celebrity interviews
- College Articles
- College Essays
- Educator of the Year
- Personal Experience
- Travel & Culture
- Current Events / Politics
- Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking
- Entertainment / Celebrities
- Love / Relationships
- Movies / Music / TV
- Pop Culture / Trends
- School / College
- Social Issues / Civics
- Spirituality / Religion
- Sports / Hobbies
- Community Service
- Letters to the Editor
- Pride & Prejudice
- What Matters
We had been hiking/crawling for upwards of 6 hours. We were 5 teenagers on a trek for a taste of independence. Dragging our 40-pound bags, we munched on Clif Bars in between deep breaths and sporadic conversations. Talking helped distract us from the pulsing pain in our joints. The beautiful thing about nature is it has the innate and unique ability to place you in the exact moment you are in. You could care less about the outside world. Your full attention is being used on the people around you and the experience you are sharing. I always notice my mindset quickly transition from constant overthinking to being extremely present.
Occasionally there would be a crack in the trees and we’d glance out at the view we were single-handedly creating for ourselves by choosing to climb this mountain. We would momentarily forget about our aching backs and heaving lungs and simply bask in the beauty of BC. When we finally summited at Taylor Meadows, our ecstasy was tangible. We dropped our bags at the campsite and high-fived one another in celebration. We did it. We efficiently set up our 2 tents, bathed ourselves in fleeces, and prepped for dinner. Just as we were about to head out to the communal cooking shelter, I found myself face-to-face with a small, black bear. It was casually strolling behind our tent, munching on leaves smugly. We were speechless but not scared, more just in awe. After some gentle cooing, the bear scampered away. We laughed at the simplicity of the interaction between man and animal in the wilderness, and made our way to eat.
After a satisfying meal of veggie curry and dark chocolate (not together), cooked over a small, portable gas stove, we hung our food in the bear cache (now suddenly a very real necessity). We headed back to our camp and settled in around a circle of logs. One of us had brought along a hammock, an extra pound in their bag, which was a major bonus. It’s interesting how quickly everything you bring is suddenly viewed as weight. This quickly forces you to bring only the necessities. It totally changes your mindset from quantity to quality and want to need. And thus, obviously, the hammock was a Definite Need.
After some good conversation in the dark, our headlamps aimed at the ground to prevent from blinding one another, we climbed into our respective tents and got cozy in our cocoon of sleeping bag heaven. Covering my eyes with my toque and curling my toes in my blue Patagonia socks, I fell into a fast, deep sleep. No late-night Instagram scrolling or candy crush level to complete; just innocent slumber.
I woke up at the ripe hour of 7am to the sound of birds chirping and the sunlight streaming into my tent. It was wonderful. I’m an early riser by nature, and there’s nothing like waking up in the outdoors at an ample time and enjoying every second of the crisp morning air. Once we were all conscious, we trudged over to the food shelter. We hauled our food stuff-sacks in and pulled out our pre-prepared Ziploc bag labeled “Breakfast – Day 2”. Inside was the perfect amount of oatmeal, cinnamon, instant coffee (Definite Need #2) and almond butter. We ate eagerly and once our eyes were fully open and stomachs appeased, we ventured out for our day hike. As the morning progressed we periodically ripped off layers of thin polar fleece, extracted water from rivers through our MEC filters and sang Queen to our hearts content. At a particularly warm moment, the boys made a break for a patch of snow and created life-like snow angels. Their backs were stark red.
We arrived at our peak destination starving and panting. The last half hour of the incline involved navigating our way over slate rocks that could be easily persuaded to move if you applied too much pressure with your hiking boot. We settled in, completely isolated from anything else around us. We couldn’t see people in any direction and this was partly due to the fact that we were sitting just above a cloud. We were totally surrounded by nature’s cotton candy and if you looked really closely, you could see the cloud drifting in whatever direction it pleased. After I finished my gourmet meal of veggie pitas with hummus (Lunch – Day 2), I watched my friends revert back to their childhood habits. One to my immediate right was carving a rock. 2 others were creating Inukshuks and the last was dancing earnestly to my iPod speaker we had opted to bring along (Definite Need #3).
We eventually left the misty paradise to make the trek down the mountain. We opted for a quicker, more exciting first leg of the descent, by taking the snow route. We slid down a large patch; cutting off the entire rock slab hell we endured on the way up. We counted to 3, allowing our adrenaline to spike and then went for it. Some of us opted for the bum route, others the stomach. Regardless of the body part we chose to exploit, it was fantastic. We were intoxicated with youthful elation as our bodies crashed, rolling together chaotically down the slope. I felt ignorant bliss for in that moment my entire reality was that hill of snow and my friends. We reached the bottom laughing hysterically, breathless from the rush one can only manifest if they’ve thrown their body down a mountain.
We finished the hike down effortlessly, talking about books, space, colours and the beauty of a perfect sandwich. Once we reached the bottom we found ourselves facing the stunning Garibaldi Lake. It was as blue as the sky and shimmering. The boys were eager and naïve, desperate to jump in the water. I was very aware that it was glacier fed and thus freezing but I refrained from mentioning my opinion to both allow them the pleasure of jumping in the lake and also to witness them scream. We arrived at the dock and they peeled off their shirts, damp from a long day in the sun. After much hesitation, they catapulted off the dock. I squirmed in anticipation. Within seconds their heads popped up and they were yelling sweet cries of pain, but they were also beaming. It was refreshing, they claimed. They came out of the lake, shaking from the cold, and chased us in an attempt to make us cold as well. Fat chance.
They dried off and we walked back to the site. As we did, we all naturally split apart and took our own space. It’s interesting how, as humans, we instinctually seek our own time to be alone and reflect. After being together for 24 hours in a new environment, we all needed time to ourselves. As I walked, I thought both about this trip and the memories I was creating, as well as my life back home. Being in the wilderness like this allowed me to see my everyday existence for what it truly was. I’m in a place in my life where I get to live every day with vigor and curiosity. My friends are my identity and my passions are my essence and together those things create my happiness. Hiking through those woods, to my awaiting dinner, I experienced a whole new sense of gratitude for the things I love. And, like most things, I have nature to thank for that epiphany.
We arrived back at camp starving. After another transition from dry-fit to fleece, we booked it for the food shelter and prepped for dinner. We had already developed a routine. We gorged on pasta, burnt pancakes and tea. As the sun set we went back to camp and enjoyed our last night in Taylor Meadows. We sang songs, ate chocolate and stared at the stars; your typical teenage romance-plot essentially. At just past 11, our eyelids were drooping and our fatigue was hard to ignore so we returned to our faithful tents and fell fast asleep, once again, to the sweet sound of silence.
Our final morning was a rush of packing, eating and moaning. The combination of not wanting to leave and the experience of literally packing your home into a bag resulted in an all around vibe of melancholy. Once we were finally ready, our site appeared as if we had never inhabited it for 3 days. It was a bittersweet feeling. We bid Taylor Meadows a tearful goodbye, filled our Nalgenes with one last liter of water from the river and descended down to civilization. The hike down was an easy, breezy cruise. We stopped twice. Once for lunch and the other for water, snacks and a break for our shoulders. Our bags were still weighing on our backs although there was a definite difference in pain due to the fact that we had no food left and they were therefore significantly lighter.
We arrived at the bottom 2 hours later. We found a patch of grass by a rushing river. I watched other hikers begin their hike, still clean and polished. (We now had the wonderful odor of teenage filth). I smiled and reminisced on our excursion. I was lucky enough to spend the last 3 days laughing, exploring and talking. We created oatmeal masterpieces and brushed our teeth behind bushes. We met a bear and jumped in freezing cold, crystal blue water. We shared memories in a misty mountain setting, flummoxed with the beauty of the outdoors. We gorged on trail mix and relished in the feeling one can only foster when they are living to their full youthful potential, surrounded by their favourite people.