July 27-29, 2020
Gabrielle Booth & Charlotte Scholten
On our trip, to the best of my understanding, Charlotte and I traveled through the following traditional, ancestral, and unseeded territories: səl̓ilwətaɁɬ təməxʷ (Tsleil-Waututh), xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Stz’uminus, S’ólh Téméxw (Stó:lō), Skwxwú7mesh-ulh Temíx̱w (Squamish), Coast Salish, Qayqayt, sc̓əwaθenaɁɬ təməxʷ (Tsawwassen), Kwantlen, Kwikwetlem, and sq̓əc̓iy̓aɁɬ təməxʷ (Katzie).
Monday, July 27th
Bike: 73.88 km, 508 m gain, 4:35 hours
Hike: 5.9 km, 418 m gain, 1:40 hours
Four days had passed since I had waved goodbye to Charlotte when she peeled off Arbutus Greenway at the end of our three day bike tour of Galiano Island. Today, I caught sight of her stretching and glancing at her watch impatiently as she waited for me at the Burrard bridge. It was almost 5pm; I was late.
This summer, I was working full-time on the classic 9-5 (ish) and taking a couple classes, and Charlotte was splitting her time more evenly between studying and working. Charlotte worked all weekend, and I worked all week; to our frustration, our schedules couldn’t have been more misaligned.
By the end of July though, we had begun to figure it out. “Figuring it out” to us meant doing whatever was necessary to escape on our bikes into the mountains or to the ocean. Turns out “whatever was necessary” was working weekends, early mornings, and sometimes evenings to get odd stretches of shared free time. This in-the-city grind was followed by the out-of-the-city grind: Biking harder and often in the dark.
I started working at 7am, so I could work a full day before packing and meeting Charlotte at the Burrard Bridge at 4:30pm. She had spent the day going to class and frantically trying to get a paper done. Given how tight our schedules were, our meeting time kept changing but at 4:25pm Charlotte sent the go ahead: Paper submitted, on my way.
So in my defense, when I showed up at the bridge 5 minutes later than Charlotte there hadn’t been a time to reference to say with objectivity that I was late, it was more just implied by the palpable feeling of high-strung energy ricocheting between us.
Fortunately, it only took us a few kilometers to shake off the stress of carving out the time for our adventure and settle into an easy and excited mindset.
The ride to Golden Ears Provincial Park wasn’t the most pleasant ride we’d done. It was largely flat, which we appreciated after biking less-than-flat Galiano only a few days prior, but involved long highway stretches and getting a little bit too up close and personal with fast moving cars for my taste.
A little over halfway through this evening’s ride, we took a wrong turn trying to get on to the Pitt River bridge. I’m not sure I usually buy into the “everything happens for a reason” mindset, but the wrong turn leading to the brewery immediately adjacent to the bike path provided cause for me to reconsider. Have a beer on the patio and bike in the dark at the end of our ride or carry on and try to do the whole thing in the light? Ha! Yeah the lager, please.
Decidedly happier we easily found our way onto the bridge, and finally, the last hour of the ride treated us to lovely and quiet dirt roads. The ride though the provincial park was beautiful, even though we could only see it with the last bit of the day’s light.
When we arrived at West Canyon Trailhead, we were both pretty tuckered out. We started to weigh our options: Hike to our planned camp spot (Alder Flats), camp in the empty trailhead parking lot, or try to camp at a site down the road. We scouted the car camping site and rather than it being a quiet place for us to crash, we found a pretty intense rave going on — decidedly less ideal.
I bat my eyes a couple times and made an argument for stashing our bikes and carrying on with the short hike to our campsite. Eventually, Charlotte agreed. Hiding our bikes in the bush and locking them together, we quickly transitioned from bike to hike mode. Strapping on our headlamps, we started our hike, talking loudly about anything and everything to avoid imagining large bears lurking in the dark.
The trail was a bit more rocky than we expected, but about 6kms later we popped out at a flat campsite where the moonlight reflecting off the alder bark confirmed that we were in the right spot.
We ended the activity on our GPS watches at exactly 11:59pm. Goofy and sleepy grins appeared on our faces. Yeah, that’s right. That’s how you use a day.
Tuesday, July 28th
Hike (to high point): 6.57 km, 1,136 m gain, 3:30 hours
As we were quite used to, we woke to see our campsite for the first time. It was a beautiful day, and we took our time breaking down camp, collecting water, and assembling our day packs. The trail was quite steep and preferred by flies but also fun to hike and beautiful.
When we arrived at the permanent snowfield near the summit, we started to have some reservations. It was hot out, we had no ice axes, crampons, nor any real understanding of the hazards involved. While I think we could have crossed it and would have been fine, we couldn’t describe what the risks were and why it would have been safe to cross. After much deliberation, we decided to call it and hike back down onto Panorama Ridge, promising that we’d be back to summit.
We made our way back to Alder Flats to pick up our overnight gear, and then took a trail to Viewpoint Beach, our next campsite. Viewpoint Beach is a lovely spot directly on Gold Creek, where we spent the evening lounging around in the clear and cold water (with some daylight, no less!).
Wednesday, July 29th
Hike: 6.27 kms, 143 m, 1:20 hours
Bike: 70.35 km, 371 m gain, 4:15 hours
We ate breakfast watching the sun make its way down the face of a distant peak. But city time had invaded our campsite and reminded us of Charlotte’s 2pm class. We quickly hiked the 6 kms to our bikes and hopped on the road.
We were making good time, so when we saw the signs specifying a good deal for blueberries we had to stop. Since we had about 50 kms to bike and a time constraint, we figured yeah, why not pick up 10 kg of blueberries on the cheap? We’re hardly going for ultralight setups as is…
A long, hot, highly-trafficked route took us back to Vancouver. After crushing some lunch (of primarily blueberries), showering, and trading out my backpacking gear for my laptop I was back on my bike and on my way to work. In parallel, I imagined Charlotte collapsing into her chair for a three hour lecture, thinking: Yeah, that’s how you use a day.