Yesterday, I hiked up the side of a mountain, and boy, are my legs tired. When we were kids, my family went hiking every Sunday. My two brothers and I took turns choosing the trail. We went hiking, camping, canoeing, and kayaking.
And then we stopped. I don’t remember being a very sullen teenager, but when I look at the photos from our last family camping trip, I see a kid who wasn’t having fun anymore. It makes sense that my parents started going on their own vacations. They’re cruise people now.
Five years ago, I started walking specifically for exercise and mental health, and three years ago, I started hiking again. Depression makes it hard to remember the things that used to bring you joy. The most important part of my self-care is a few hours in the wilderness every week.
Yesterday, I hiked a section of the Trans Canada Trail over Burnaby Mountain. I knew it would be hard. I didn’t know it would be straight up at a 20% grade. Because there are a lot of trails on the mountain, they have ratings. The TCT is rated intermediate; advanced must be evil.
I want to hike the West Coast Trail, a 7-day backpacking trail on the west coast of Vancouver Island. They say it’s hard. You have to get a permit and do an orientation. My mom says I shouldn’t do it alone.
My goals for this summer are all about getting to the WCT. I want to do at least one overnight hike. I want to complete all of the TCT I can reach by transit. I’ve been planning a trip to the Island to visit Emily Carr’s house, so I hope to do the bulk of the TCT there, too. I want to do the Coquitlam Crunch and then the Grouse Grind, both straight uphill trails.
The Grouse Grind is famous for being hard. People time themselves; they race the clock and each other. The unofficial record is 23 minutes. The rest of us need two hours.
As I took a break under the power lines, about two-thirds up Burnaby Mountain, I saw the same woman twice. Then I saw her again higher up. She was running up and down while I was just trying to make it to the top. I bet she can do the Grind in less than an hour.
Sitting, panting, on the ground and watching her run as easy as the breeze, I convinced myself I’m not ready. I’ve been telling myself this the last two summers. I have a bad ankle. I’m not in shape. If only I could lose another ten pounds.
But then I got up off the ground, and I kept hiking. I made it to the top of the mountain. It wasn’t easy, but instead of proving I’m not ready for the Grind, yesterday’s hike taught me how to do it.