avatarMaryanne Pope


Lessons Learned From An (Unnecessarily Long) Epic Hike

First posted July 2020

“Your soul knows the geography of your destiny.”

– John O’Donohue, “Anam Cara; A Book of Celtic Wisdom”

Have you ever had the experience of doing an activity — but having the sense that something else…something bigger…was going on?

That happened to me recently — on a rather epic hike with my friend, Lynne.

“It’s just a two-hour hike,” she says to me, over morning coffee at her place.

I had stayed the night in their guest room and had finally sauntered upstairs for a late & leisurely breakfast on the back patio.

Eleven hours later, we staggered (literally) back to the patio for beer and burgers. And let me tell you, was that burger ever good!

Technically, Lynne was right. If one parked at the correct trail head on Sumas Mountain (near Abbotsford, BC), then yes…the hike to Chadsey Lake would be a mere two hours. In fact (we later learned), one could even park closer than that to the lake…just a short 20-minute stroll through the woods for a refreshing swim in a cool mountain lake on a scorching July day.

But, as you may have guessed, WE didn’t park at either of those places. Oh no, we parked at the very bottom of the mountain. Our first clue should have been that the sign at our trail head didn’t even mention Chadsey Lake. Minor detail…that turned into a very large, nine-hour detail.

But at least we were prepared. We’d eaten a good breakfast and lunch, we had snacks, we had lots of water, good hiking boots, hiking poles (love my new poles!), band aids…and the right attitude.

By hour three, we knew something wasn’t right. But we made the decision to keep going — partly because the little blue dot on my phone told me we were heading towards the lake and partly because other hikers coming down the mountain reassured us that yes, the lake did exist. Unfortunately, the other hiker’s sense of time was somewhat askew because “just forty-five minutes more” was NOT forty-five minutes.

With hope in our hearts, onward we trudged, huffing & puffing up the mountain, one slow step at a time.

But then, when we were about fifteen minutes from the lake — and dreaming about how cool, refreshing & peaceful our long-awaited swim would be — we heard what sounded like a herd of happy elephants thundering up behind us.

Wearily, we turned around.

It was a herd of happy kids, bouncing up the trail…in not the most sensible of footwear, let me tell you. The lone adult accompanying this gang of cheerful children was carrying a HUGE bag over one shoulder (a inflatable kayak we would later learn). Once they’d passed us (which didn’t take long), Lynne and I looked at each other.

“Gee,” I said, “you’d never know they’ve been hiking for five hours!”

Because, of course, they hadn’t. They’d parked at the lot just a few minutes down the trail. But we didn’t know that…yet. All we knew was that the pinnacle of our epic hike — a serene swim in a quiet mountain lake — was now going to be rather…noisy.

Alas, we soldiered on to our destination…

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