After 15 years of living in Canada, I finally went on my first big vacation. I know, what have I been doing all this time? Well, not too much but the top two reasons why I haven’t traveled anywhere is because of 1) financial reasons 2) busy with other daily life demands. I did travel to Montreal three times and to Niagara Falls once, but I don’t count these locations as big travel trips.
In Fall 2015, my friend moved from Toronto to Vancouver City, if you are from Canada then you know BC is popular for its beautiful nature and scenery. When my friend moved away, she kept asking me to come for a visit, but always said ” I don’t know, should I splurge money like that” and in that moment I decided, “Yes, now is the time and if not now then when?” I began to save money and in March I purchased my flight ticket, which was relatively cheap for what you usually get. When I say cheap, I meant from the $400 dollar range and that’s pretty good. The countdown began and the excitement started to build up as the departure date arrived closer and closer. I even downloaded a countdown app on my phone and I checked it every day.
July 23, 2016, finally arrived and I was so excited I’m finally going somewhere different, and being stuck in one place all the time is very dull. My plane departure was slightly late but my overall my flight experience was enjoyable. I made sure I had items to entertain me for 5 hours such as a book, my music and one of those adult coloring books.
Cotton candy clouds!
My flight going to Vancouver felt longer, but the minute we landed I was overwhelmed with excitement.
From the airport I took a cab to my friend’s place, I wasn’t planning on taking the SkyTrain when I had so much luggage and the transit system would be confusing for a first timer in VanCity. The car ride was nice, the first thing I noticed was the clear sky and how well the moon was seen. In Toronto, you can’t see the moon very well and it appears very tiny, in VanCity it appears larger and closer to Earth. It was cool to witness that and I could also see the stars in the sky, in Toronto you have to go to cottage country to get that view. That’s what impressed me the most on my first night in Vancouver.
I arrived at the house in 20-25 min, and surprisingly I didn’t feel jetlagged at all. That was good because the next morning we had to be up early to go on a six-hour hike. Yes, six hours but it turned out to be a bit longer. One of the things I’ve always wanted to do in Vancouver was to go hiking and I was thrilled I got the chance to do that. We went to Squamish which is an hour away from Vancouver, where the Stawamus Chief hike is located. It offers a beautiful scenic view of Howe Sound and several mountains in Garibaldi Provincial Park. The views were incredible, I’ve never seen anything so beautiful before and I was in awe of the British Columbia’s beauty.
Before you enter and begin the to hike up to the top of the Chief, near the parking lot you will find Shannon Falls. Shannon Falls is a beautiful waterfall surrounded by trees and there were a ton of tourists taking pictures and simply enjoying each others company.
After we finished admiring the Falls, we started walking through a short trail to enter the Chief.
The estimated time of the hike is six hours, the level of hiking is considered intermediate but it didn’t feel that way to me. There are three peaks and to get to the first peak, we had to climb steep wooden stairs that slowly transitioned into rock stairs. At first, I was fine, but then it started to hit me, my heartbeat was off the charts and my face was almost as red as a tomato. Oh, and of course, I was sweating profusely. I stopped many times while I was climbing the stairs, but luckily I wasn’t the only one in the group who did that. I was starting to feel nauseous too, it wasn’t a good feeling but I knew I felt that way because I didn’t enough hiking experience. Halfway through the hike to peak one, we stumbled across a “lemonade stand”. There was a couple waiting for hikers and giving out lemonade to them! I thought that was the most thoughtful thing I’ve seen, it is special because they were regular people who only wanted to help out make the hiking experience a little bit more manageable. It wasn’t free, but there wasn’t a particular price you had to pay, you payed what you could. While I was enjoying my lemonade, I sat down to admire the scenery in front of me. All you could see was trees everywhere and I loved it.
We took a little bit of breather before we continued climbing up to the first peak, that’s when it got a little bit tricky. We reached a steep area where we had to use chains to climb up, it was challenging but I decided to push through. Even though this hike was difficult and we stopped many times on the way to peak one, I decided to keep going. I didn’t want to give up, I may be a less experienced hiker, but my willpower is stronger. My friends were impressed that on my first day in VanCity, I completed such a difficult hike. I gotta admit, I was quite proud of myself and it showed me I can accomplish anything I wanted. That’s not the end, when we reached peak one it was the most beautiful sight. We took time to rest, take lots of photos and eat to increase our energy for the second peak.
After a much-needed rest, we started again! It was fun to do this hike a lot of people, we were chatting and enjoying this experience to the fullest. The hike up to the second peak was not so bad, instead of stairs, now we had lots of rocks. We took our time climbing, but then for the first time during the hike I got scared. There was some elevated rock we had to jump on while using chains to bring ourselves upwards. For one of the rocks, I had to lift my leg high up in the air and jump up to grab onto the chains. I was suddenly terrified, I have a fear of heights that subsided two years ago but I’m not completely over it yet. So when I looked behind and saw what would happen if I didn’t jump properly, I simply panicked. Embarrassingly, I screamed out loud during my first try! The scream was a genuine feeling of fear, but one of my friends stayed with me and encouraged me that I can do it. So my willpower kicked in again and I build up the courage to jump up and grab onto these chains. I pulled myself up and I climbed onto the hill, I am lucky to have such supportive friends who encouraged me and helped me get over my fear. We had to climb a little bit further to get to the second peak which was more uphill, but eventually we made it to the top.
At that point, I was absolutely exhausted and I rested for a while. We completed our usual routine of taking pictures, we were lucky enough to have some people at the second peak who offered to take a few group shots of us. I was dreading the next moment because that meant we had to continue climbing to the final peak, and I didn’t want to. My friends were contemplating a bit and the person who was taking our pictures told us it’ll take a long time to get there. I was hoping that would be convincing enough to change their minds and go back, but some of us were determined to complete the full hike. My friends knew I didn’t want to, but they told me it would be worth it in the end. It was worth it, I would do it again if I had to. I can’t remember exactly, but it took us an hour and half to get to the third peak. The hike to the third peak was not that bad, it was actually easier than the other ones. Once we got the final peak, I felt a sense of satisfaction that I completed such a difficult hike with minimum hiking experience. I was so proud of myself and my friends were too!
On our way down we decided to take a short cut, we were led by our friend who knows the way and if we didn’t have him, we would be lost. The short cut was not that easy, there were lots of rocks and steep hills, therefore going down was not easy. My pace was slow because I didn’t want to fall down and hurt myself, it took while to get down and our goal was to get back to those stairs we climbed earlier. Because we were in the forest, it was starting to get dark, not too much but we had to hurry to get down. Me and two of my friends were ahead, and I was on the lookout to find these stairs and also to the hear the waterfall. If I heard the waterfall, that meant we close to exiting the Chief in a hour. Luckily, I am very observant so as soon I heard the waterfall I told my two other friends who were behind us. We started climbing down the stairs, but it was getting even darker. I got a little bit nervous, but I knew we were going the right way so the feeling quickly went away. We were way ahead of our two friends, so as soon we made it down, we sat down to rest and wait for them. Shortly after that they showed up and we were all reunited. We started walking back to the parking lot, we walked by a camp site near the entrance of the Chief, one day I’ll go back and camp out there.
We got onto the trail we used to enter the Chief and night view of the mountains was stunning! Of course, we stopped and took a few photos!
Soon we got into the car, and drove to Boston Pizza to eat dinner because we were starving. After dinner, my friend dropped off the others and we went back home. I slept like a baby that night, and the next morning I was very sore haha, but it was worth. I am so glad I spend time with these amazing people, for nine hours we got to know each other a little bit and I’ll never forget that amazing day!
As you can tell from the title of this post, this is part one of my story. There is so much to share about this trip, so I’ll be splitting up the story into parts. The next part of my story will take place in the United States and the awesome road trip we had.
I hope you guys enjoyed this post, let me know if you go hiking and if you do share with us what’s the toughest hike you’ve ever done.
Thank you for reading and stay tuned for part two of my 2016 travelling story!
See you soon.