I went hiking up to St Mark's summit via Cypress mountain yesterday (http://www.vancouvertrails.com/trails/st-mark's-summit/). That website says it takes 5 hours round trip but it took me an hour and 45 minutes to get up there and a bit over an hour to get back. I was pushing myself on the way up because I had set off at 4PM from Cypress and met a couple of hikers who said it might be a bit late and to not to be caught by darkness (sunset was at 9PM).
I had emailed a few people who I had hiked with before but all of them were busy and I could have emailed a couple more, but I give up easily on companionship, mostly because I don't mind doing things on my own. Doing a hike with a bunch of people is fun, but doing it on my own is fun too. It has more adventure and thrill. Anyway, so that was 4.5 hours on a trail on my own and it was just me, my thoughts, the mountains and beautiful views.
There is almost absolute silence most of the way, and it is eerie sometimes. I met maybe 10 people but they were all returning. And the best part of it was, at the top I had the whole mountain to myself. Absolutely beautiful views and it was all mine! It is weird that there are very few birds and even lesser animals. At the very top, my company was a couple of inquisitive little birds, and a tiny squirrel. They weren't that scared of me which makes me believe that either they don't see many people or that they were given food by hikers. I think the latter because the place had obviously seen a lot of traffic and one of the birds definitely had an increased interest in me when I held out an open palm.
So at the top, there is this cliff where the mountain just drops out and where you can dangle your feet 1370m above sea-level and look out West to see Horseshoe Bay, Bowen Island and beyond. Pictures here: http://picasaweb.google.com/anoop.karollil/StMarkSSummitHike# Its places like these that makes you want to somehow be able to fly. I met the little birds there and they could just fly out and come back.
That made me think of the Bodex™. It is this nice device that lets you swap bodies. Its actual intent is to let you help people in pain or disabilities live a few happy hours/days. For example a guy who can't walk pays a fit guy to let him use his body for a day to do things he wanted to like go on an hike, go swimming etc. Or a girl who suffers from migraines asks her boyfriend to swap bodies with her so that she can prep for a big exam the next day. Well, I could use it to be the bird for a while. I could imagine flying off the cliff, swooping left, then right and then checking myself because I was a little bird and not an eagle and could possibly get blown onto the rocks. Then looking back and seeing my body hop around and then flap its silly hands like mad when it jumps off the cliff. Hmm, maybe not a good idea after all.
I possibly could have used some company there, like minded company that is. The place is so pretty, I think my feelings could be described by a line from American Beauty. Have to look it up. Ah there it is - "Sometimes there's so much beauty in the world I feel like I can't take it, like my heart's going to cave in. " Well, maybe that is over-dramatic. But yeah, sharing it with someone who appreciates it as much would have made me happier. I wanted to get good photographs in early evening sunlight but my fear of getting lost on the trail in the darkness made me head back at 7PM. Sun set was at 9PM and it had taken me close to 2 hours to get to the top. But retrospectively, I could have stayed there till maybe 8:00PM.
I was absolutely and completely alone when heading back. All the people that I had met were going down while I had been going up and that was close to an hour before. So I had the whole mountain to myself but the evil mountain also had me! :-D The eerie silence and the threats of sunset and getting lost in the woods made me think unwanted thoughts. I had explored off the trail for a bit when I was at the very top. You can actually see Grouse mountain from up there though it is Eastward. And that involved hanging on to shrubs and not slipping on snow (yes snow, there are patches of hardened snow in lots of places though I was sweating). And if I slipped or sprained my ankle, it would have gone bad. I had my phone and there is coverage almost throughout. But I thought up lots of pleasant things.
I found this place up there where somebody had ripped the trail sign saying you are at the summit and had dragged it way off the trail. Somebody who was demented and who believed that the mountain was his and nobody was welcome. Somebody who thought I was trespassing and didn't like it. Somebody who would overpower me and without speaking a word slowly stick a knife in me while looking into my eyes (that actually is not my own imagination - its from Saving Private Ryan :-D).
Then I imagined three tiny infrared spots on my arm which then moved up to my head, which I couldn't see anymore, but I could feel. And a hazy camouflaged form saying 'over here, over here' (http://www.famousmonstersoffilmland.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/predator.jpg)
Then there was a thwack and I see an arrow sticking in a tree where my hand had been before. I look up and see this guy (http://picasaweb.google.com/anoop.karollil/Massachussets#5491358601427642498) sitting in a tree. I kneel down and hold up my hands and he sees I won't do any harm. I give him some chewing gum and show him my camera. He grasps focal length, optical zoom, aperture size and shutter speed quite fast and is taking photos like a pro soon. I say the sun is setting and I have to go and he bids me farewell.
On the way down, maybe half way through, I hear a bell. A small tinkling bell. First thought is of a goat, thinking its a nice day for a hike, but its a woman and she is with a man. The bell seemed a bad idea. I was actually trying to not make much noise. I think she was wearing the bell to let bears know that she is coming - I have heard that you should do that. But somehow I could imagine heads with baleful eyes lifting up from the woods, one after the other, hearing the bell and then a mad hungry rush towards food. I did think about bears once or twice, but I don't think there are any up there. I told her it was getting late to go up there (it was 7:40PM then and an hour to the top for them) but maybe I was a wuss but they didn't have flashlights. It is always good to have a flash light.
Another scary scenario was one of the hikers thinking it would be a great prank to rip off all the orange trail markers, because I am very undoubtedly sure that I would have gotten lost. But I do make it back and my legs are like rubber but I then get on my motorcycle on the lonely road down and its a nice day's finish.