Mountain People

Now.readthisplease.com is featuring Adrienne’s experiences hiking and mountain climbing in the coastal range of British Columbia. Click here to read her first adventure installment and link to her picture book series, Into The Sky.

 

The mountain lures me. I will wake on a day off, excited to be heading out on the Sea to Sky highway, which leads me to the Stawamus Chief. Twice I have arrived, parked, strapped on my backpack, pulled on my boots and gloves, and not had the energy to climb. I’ve gazed up at the massive rock and felt so overwhelmed that I collapsed back into the driver’s seat. Both times I did not possess the energy to climb, but I needed to be near, and slept in my car. It felt good just to be close to the Chief.

Crazy, isn’t it?

I’ve met so many interesting people on this mountain. I hiked with a man 76-years-old who traveled from Nevada and wanted to climb the Chief one last time. He used to live in the region and lost count of how many times he’d made it to the summit. He used a wooden walking stick the day I met him and I didn’t have to slow down my pace, much. He apologized for hindering our progress, but I only shook my head and explained that I was happy for the company.

During the Olympics last year, the sun held some warmth and I made the trip during the winter, which is a rare possibility due to our cold climate. It felt like a sneak preview of what was to come that spring. I met a man from Indiana, who was here as a volunteer driver for tourists busing in from the city. He caught up to me during the descent. We chatted and I discovered that he lived close to my brother. I insisted on driving this guest back to Squamish. He didn’t have any plans, except to walk.

“That’s ten kilometers!” I exclaimed.

I gladly dropped him off in town and before he departed, he told me that he would contact my brother to say that he met his sister on the Chief.

 

The person I remember most from my experiences on the Chief, was a little girl who didn’t climb the mountain at all, but remained at the base with her mother and grandmother. On my way up, I passed two men and a young boy. The younger man asked if they were near the summit and I told them, “Yes, it isn’t long, maybe another half hour.” He nodded his head shyly. Their accent was Middle Eastern. I didn’t think much of it, but when I returned to the bottom and walked along the forest’s path, I was approached by the two women and a young girl, all wearing worried expressions.

“Excuse me, but did you see two men and a young boy?” one woman asked.

I told her yes, I did, and said they were fine and would be along soon. She sighed with relief and pulled her white scarf tighter under her chin. It was a hot day and I thought about how warm and uncomfortable she must be. The young girl, maybe ten-years-old, looked at me with such amazement, that I beamed a smile back at her. Her eyes were wide, looking at me with my backpack strapped on, with fingerless suede gloves*, obviously down from the summit.

I smiled all the way back to my car, parked in the lot. I had lunch packed in the trunk and enjoyed a sandwich while sitting in the driver’s seat. My body hummed with happy endorphins from the exertion and mountain air laden with fresh ions. I felt someone looking at me. There she was again, this brown-eyed girl, standing by my passenger window, just grinning at me.

I wanted to tell her that I hoped one day she would climb the Chief and feel the freedom and accomplishment that he offers to visitors. I would tell her that I know how it feels to see my brothers do all the things deemed too dangerous for girls, but times have changed. Mountains are for all of us to climb.

* Oh, and by the way, Editor, they are suede CLIMBING gloves and not for fashion. I admit they look quite smashing and match my green suede hiking boots. ~AM

Mountain People © 2011 Adrienne Moody for Now.readthisplease.com. Read more of Adrienne’s stories and her romantic exploits—just click her profile.

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