Today was a sunny day, early autumn, perfect for a short hike. Living in Vancouver we’re very lucky; it’s an easy job to find somewhere to go. My neighbours called early in the morning – they were going on a day trip, invited us, and wanted to know if we had suggestions. Their ideas sounded great: the Hope train tunnels or Steveston. Feeling obliged a bit to contribute instead of just tagging along, I suggested Mount Seymour. They talked it over, and Mount Seymour it was!
Mount Seymour Provincial Park has a fairly popular though small ski hill for winter fun, and during the summer lots of hiking trails with great views. Our destination was Mystery Lake, a ‘moderate’ hike of 1.5km with elevation change 180m. In other words, mostly uphill with some flat parts and some steep parts.
Packing for a day trip was easy, especially now that Cameron is reliably telling me when he has to go pee. We dressed in layers, smart for a mountain hike. Basically I packed a camera and extra battery, a light lunch (granola bars, cheese, peanut butter sandwich, apple, orange, yogurt – only the cheese got eaten), a fleece each. Had I been thinking and had the trip been to a more risky locale (as some local hikes are) I would’ve brought hat and mits each, flashlight, and rain poncho. Oh, and I had a litre of water. We stopped on the way to buy bagels (M&P brought hummous) and treats at Solly’s.
A word on dressing and using layers for any novices – when you’re active and warm, remove layers to the point of being almost cool. Then when you stop, you layer up. Otherwise you get sweaty. When you then stop in colder air, the sweaty damp clothes get c-o-l-d.
The trip up, once we figured out where the path was, was not too bad. Cameron willingly walked most of the way though we started off with “I carry you ten steps, then you walk ten,” and he would mostly forget to count his ten. I had to carry him over some of the worst muddy patches as he wasn’t wearing good shoes for that, and a few parts had ‘steps’ that were too high for him to manage. He amazed me, holding tight to my hand, showing great intuition for where to put his feet, and an innate understanding of physics. We tasted blueberries and something that Maite called ‘salmonberries’ (they weren’t, at least not the salmonberries I know).
We rounded a corner, and there was the lake – wow! It’s a tiny lake, surrounded in rocky forests. Clouds were tumbling in slow motion down to mist the far shore and touch the glassy water’s surface. On top of rounded rocky mountainside was a spectacular view of grey clouds. Presumably one can enjoy a gorgeous view on clear days. When it’s clear in Vancouver, remember to check the mountains, don’t just assume they’re clear too. Duh.
I so wish that I could post pictures. The battery died. The back-up apparently wasn’t charged. Dammit.
Our picnic lunch was not exactly relaxing. Between rocky harsh surfaces to sit on, boys running off, Cameron needing to go poo (no handy logs to sit on by the way), and Whisky Jacks turning up, it was somewhat disorganized and gobbled. By the way, please don’t feed WJs. Sure, it’s fun to have a medium sized bird land on your hand to eat. I’ve done it myself. But the little buggers get aggressive!
The trip down was more challenging. Samuel did alright, as he’s more experienced in hiking and is that much older. Cameron had a hard time on the steeper parts, and indeed had a close call where it was either he would fall or we both would. I caught him, but he did have an unpleasant meeting with a tree trunk. He was also overdue by that point for a nap.
All in all, a fun adventure, and well worth it! I would recommend the hike/walk highly for families, with a couple of caveats. Make sure, absolute certain, that your child knows that stop means freeze your feet and don’t take another step in either direction. Cameron happens to be good about that – Samuel not so much. A child who needs to be carried, unless you have a carrier for them, will have troubles. Some parts you just cannot reasonably carry a child up or down. Be ready for mud. Be ready for bears, though with two loud kids this wasn’t a concern really. Make sure your child does know to check with you before eating berries, as there are poisonous baneberries on the path. The obvious blueberries are blueberries and edible indeed, and the big, glossy, dark berries amid them are Uva Ursi (the mountain bearberry variety), also edible though not as yummy. Remember that this is a mountain, and characteristic of the North Shore mountains the weather can change rapidly and unpredictably – read and follow the ‘rules’ posted concerning weather and staying on the trails.
Lastly, a cute moment. Cameron was helping me and Maite pick a bag of blueberries on the way down. I pushed into the bushes to reach some deep-in, high-up berries Maite couldn’t reach, and was of course watched by Cameron. Once I came out again, he went a little ways in, and pulled branches around himself. “I’m a blueberry, Mommy!” he shouted. When I agreed, he added, “PICK ME! PICK ME!” So I did, and declared him the sweetest blueberry on the mountain.