Tuesday, July 8, 2008

A Hike in the Boonies

Last weekend, two of my gay fortysomething friends schlepped over from Vancouver for their annual visit. Yep, once a year they leave their urban comforts and connect to small town/rural life. Fortunately, as with every visit they've made, the weather was perfect. We decided to go for a hike a five-minute drive from my place. (So close and yet I'd never made the trek myself. Sad. I could attribute it to a fear of encountering a bear, but still sad.) My tour book described the walk as an "unrelenting" forty-minute uphill climb. Armed with water bottles and smeared in sunscreen, we gamely (gaily?) set forth.

The walk began on a heavily forested path, ferns lushly serving as ground cover and mature pines towering above. As it was the hottest day of the year, the shade was greatly appreciated. After about ten minutes we came to the stairs, built into the slope. A sign screamed "Danger" in block read letters, but we weren't to be turned back. For the next twenty minutes, we struggled to breathe evenly as we battled the equivalent to an outdoor Stairmaster. Who needs a gym, city boys? Natural beauty AND a calf muscle workout!

We reached a few clearing areas with peak-a-boo views of the water and wondered if that was as good as it gets. (Truthfully, I think we all just needed an excuse to catch our breath and stretch our leg muscles before continuing.) Eventually, we reached a clearing, a large rocky summit that provided the view we'd hoped for. Breathtaking! The small harbor town closest to my home looked like a Mediterranean resort. The arbutus trees that twisted and arced upward from the rocks fascinated. The islands and boats below added to the beauty of the vibrant scene.

We sat and looked in silence for many minutes. It was a moment to enjoy the tranquility. No horns, no sirens, no schnauzers barking. It took me three years to take in this particular view, but all along the coast there are postcard moments. This is why I moved to the boonies.

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