2020: the year of gratitude and grief! Last year when I was writing my Top 5 Adventures of 2019 I said: “I’m looking towards 2020 feeling that I have my life where I want it, and I’m ready for whatever new adventures I’m thrown”…I don’t think I was quite ready for what was coming. And even though it has been a frustrating and discouraging year, it has also provided huge opportunities to clarify what is important to my family, how my partner and I can communicate more effectively and be happier together, and what I really need to thrive (and what was unnecessary ‘noise’ in my life). I’m very optimistic that the trial-by-fire that has been 2020, will set me up to be more patient, more compassionate, and more vocal about the people who are important to me.
Much to my delight, the one thing that was not cancelled this year, was hiking and backpacking season (even though it has been WAY. MORE. BUSY), so I was still able to get out and adventure with my loved ones. So, here are my top 5 favourite adventures from 2020:
#5: Rock Climbing at Crest Creek Crags
Crest Creek Crags has a special place in my heart because it was the first place I climbed outside, and we have spent a number of vacations bumming around the crags. The crags are a bit inconvenient to access from southern Vancouver Island, so we don’t travel out there super-frequently; however, every time we do, it’s a lovely time. We had the opportunity to climb at CCC on two separate occasions this year: one time with a friend after another trip in the area, and a second time as a laid-back weekend trip with my little brother. It was really gratifying to see my climbing finally feel solid and effective. I was able to climb so many more routes than previously and I felt far more confident and stable on the rock.
#4: Crest Mountain with Dad
It turns out that my dear Dad, in his 65th year, can still kick my ass at hiking. We haven’t gone backpacking together for a number of years, and in 2020 we decided to try an assault on Crest Mountain (right across the ‘street’ from Crest Creek Crags), and maybe Mt Idsardi. We had a spectacular time in the alpine of Crest Mountain with breathtaking views across Kings Peak, Mt Colonel Foster, and the heart of Strathcona Park. It was also so fun to be back in the mountains with Dad, who introduced me to the mountains and backpacking many many years ago and is still crushing 1000m+ of elevation with a heavy backpack…although admittedly gear is notably lighter than in 1990s. We also got Dad fired up to do more mountaineering, because he’s already pestering me for which mountains we are planning to climb in the coming year, so he has some time to get into tip-top mountaineering shape.
#3: Kiddo Camping
We had the tremendous honour of introducing a good friend and his young daughter to camping. Our friend is the most city-centred, urban human I have ever met, and he pretty much lives within walking distance of his downtown condo. Then his 5-year-old daughter informed him that she wanted to go camping. So, we kitted the two of them out with our extra camping gear and spent a really fun, slow, and laid-back weekend at Bear Beach on the Juan de Fuca trail. Together, we hit all the summer camping bucket list items: we hiked in using a short access trail, we camping right on the beach, we made a little campfire and roasted hot dogs and marshmallows, we looked at the stars, we scavenged for excellent treasures along the beach, and we found a sweet rope swing. They had so much fun, and it was really exciting to be part of their special adventure together. I’m certain that there will be many more adventures for us in the future, since they are now hooked.
#2: Mountain Skills Course
In 2019, we registered for a June 2020 Mountains Skills Course to learn about how to safely handle the mountains. We are both experienced hikers and sport climbers, and have way less experience off-route and close to not experience in snow and ice conditions. Some guidance seemed like a prudent approach. It was incredible. We learned a bunch of news skills on how to safely use a mountaineering axe and crampons, as well as how to walk as part of a rope team and perform a crevasse rescue. It was both insanely out of my comfort zone (I’m not a natural snow person, let’s be honest) and super-gratifying to see how far we could go with a few more skills and a lot more confidence. Although, hopefully not so much confidence that we get ourselves into questionable situations.
#1: North Coast Trail
We finally did it, fam! We crushed the North Coast Trail. The trip was especially exciting for me because it was the crux of what I wanted to accomplish this year, by bringing together a number of themes I had been trying to incorporate: complex execution (coordinating cars, water taxi, etc) and community (we went with two friends with whom we’d never been backpacking). The trail was fun and interesting, the campsites beautiful and dramatic, the weather variable, and the company stellar. I also felt a certain level of ‘completeness’ for coastal backpacking for a while, so I’m excited to focus my efforts on the mountains in the coming year, feeling resolved and satisfied with my land-based coastal pursuits.