I left my depression somewhere out at sea. After three or
four hours of calm ocean breezes, the northern Washington coastline on one side me, and the shining snow-capped Olympic mountains receding behind me, I arrived in Victoria, a jewel of a city. Upon my arrival, the Immigration man greeted me. Canada didn’t want the couple of dollars I would bring to their economy, they wanted more. The officers would not let me enter until I persuaded them that I was only there for a short visit. Luckily for me, when they phoned Connie’s house to confirm my story, Connie’s mother decided to welcome me. Well, maybe welcome is too strong a word. When I arrived at the no frills, three-bedroom home, Connie told me that I would have to sleep in her tent. She said, “It was my mother’s idea.” Hey, a tent in the backyard, that was still a roof over my head. I didn’t complain.
Leaving Victoria late in the afternoon, I found the island
absolutely beautiful. My ride would have taken me another fifty
miles, but it was getting dark and I didn’t want to miss any of the
beauty, so I told the driver to let me out at the top of the next
mountain. Alone, on the sparsely traveled road, amidst a pristine
mountain wilderness, I felt invigorated. On my right, I could see a
plateau jutting out from the side of the mountain. I knew that is
where I wanted to spend the night, if only there was enough daylight to get me to the top of the plateau. I grabbed my gear and started to climb.
I was doing fine until I reached a sandy incline about sixty
yards from the plateau. For every step up I took, it felt like I was
moving two steps down; I became fatigued and covered in sweat. I
wanted to give up, but ever so slowly, by putting one foot in front
of the other, I kept moving forward. After two hours, I reached the top. Since the plateau jutted out from the mountain, it was a bit tricky getting on to it, but the anticipated view of a British
Columbia star-filled sky muscled me past even that obstacle. From
atop the plateau, however, what I found was not so nice.
I threw my sleeping bag down on ground covered in briars.
There was barely enough space to stretch out. As I sat in the dark,
drenched in sweat and caked in dirt, I began to feel localized pain.
Upon self-examination, I found myself bleeding in at least three
different places. Looking up into a now cloudy sky, I began to
laugh. I stopped laughing when I heard a high-pitched cry cut
through the stillness of the mountain air. Fear was my first
reaction, but with the return of silence, I was overcome with a
feeling of reconciliation. There I was, in the presence of the wild,
perched high in British Colombia Mountains, as close to God as a
person can get. The cry of the mountain lion only hammered home that feeling. I had many reasons to be uncomfortable, but I slept
In the morning light, I was surprised to find some other
traveler had found his way to this plateau. Ten feet from where I
slept were the remains of an abandoned campfire. It appeared as if I was not the only one stupid enough to make this climb. Getting down from the plateau was less difficult though, I secured my gear and with a bon voyage I let the bundles find their own way down. Once I reconnected with my belongings, reached the highway, and emptied the sand from my shoes, I was ready to see more of this beautiful island.