I awoke this morning to spots of blue sky and a desire to climb something- you ever get that feeling? I hummed and hawed and stalled my departure until well after 10am hoping that one of my buds might pull through and call my back to say they were in for a fastpack. But the phone didn't ring so I decided to go solo...up Becher for my annual summer trip:)
I have been hiking Mt. Becher trail since I was about 10 years old. While growing up I was lucky enough to spend a portion of every summer at the Alders Beach Resort in Merville (yes, the gumboot capitol of Canada:). And from the time I was old enough to scramble, hiking Mt. Becher became an annual pilgrimage for myself and my family. In those early hiking days the trip up and back seemed like an epic endurance event. Climbing Becher was a DAY trip that actually seemed to take the entire day. Just as the drive from Victoria to Merville tested my endurance ("Are we there yet?") so did the hike up Mt. Becher. But I loved every minute of it of course. As a child I was accompanied by my father, aunts and uncles, cousins and out front my 70+year old relatives led the charge.
I have fond memories of wet feet and whiskey jack alpine birds eating crumbs from on top of my hat. I also have not so fond memories of the trip that turned sour when I was about 13. That was the year my Dad and I decided we would camp out atop Mt. Becher. That was also the year my Dad forgot to bring the sleeping bags and I had my first experience with hypothermia. Thanks for the memories Dad:)
It was these sweet memories that filled my head as Yuki and I fastpacked the Mt. Becher trail today. Although the sun was shining over the Valley there was a sticky looking cloud clinging tightly to the summit of Becher. Smiling hikers returning from and early trip up to the top confirmed the weather above...socked right in. This didn't even put a kink in my step-as the journey up Becher has always been the highlight of this trip for me. It's always about the journey! The trail was the wettest I have ever seen it in all my trips up. Wearing my trail runners allowed me to keep a fast pace and easily jump from log to stone like a frog maneuvering a lily pad pond. I even managed to keep my feet dry:)
At the half way point, 40 minutes into the trek, I stopped for a photo and posed Yuki in front of the trail marker-indicating the turn off to Paradise Meadows and the Mt. Becher traverse...I was scouting out the trail as I plan to navigate this route later in the weekend...
Yuki sitting patiently for a photo at the fork in the path...
At the top, Yuki slowed his pace and worked hard to climb to the summit. He negotiated the rocky sections like a superstar and I cheered him on to the top. He is a good old boy (10 years and a big boned Malamute) and the best hiking buddy a girl could ask for. We made it to the summit in 1 hour and 20 minutes. Hardly the epic test of endurance that I remember it being as a 12 year old:) But never the less- a perfect day hike, summit, vista (on a clear day) and the fastest access to Alpine terrain that you can find...right in our backyard! I stayed at the top for a whopping 6 minutes and then came to the conclusion that the clouds would not be parting for me on this day. Snapped some pics, let Yuki have a rest, munched on some snacks then hit the trail for the return trip before being eaten alive by mozzies.
Yuki looking onward to where the view should be at the summit...
On the way down I came across 3 men who were on their final leg to the summit. Recognizing one of the men I chatted for a moment while my brain worked overtime to place the face from my past. Then it came to me. Junior High. PE. Track Coach. Mr 'C'! WOW was that a blast from the past. We spent a few moments sharing memories from those days...20 years ago now. (Does that hurt or what). Mr C reminded me he had led my school trip on the West Coast Trail when I was in grade 9. Imaging 30 13 year olds on the WCT...that was before there were strict rules and regulations on numbers of hikers allowed on the trail. We had a riot, made a tonne of memories and learned how to spend time respectfully in the wild. Swaying under oldschool framed packs...learning what the 'tidal flush zone' was...Toni taking a hard fall and slicing open the palm of her hand-and Mr. D( the cool teachers only went by one letter) stitching up her palm right on the trail!! There is no way that would happen in today's age of waivers and liability...but man did we have a great time. That was my very first wilderness camping experience and I believe it truly helped shape me into the person I am today. Thanks Mr. C.
We returned to the car in fast time as we jogged most of the way down- Yuki was back out in front all the while smelling home. What started as a hum haw hike turned into an amazing walk down (or up as the case may be) memory lane.