Print Edition: June 4, 2014
You know what is awesome? Living near so many hiking spots. I live in the Stave Falls area, which is technically, politically Mission, but is the precise halfway point between the downtown areas of Mission and Maple Ridge.
One might be inclined to call it “the boonies,” though I refrain from calling anything around my neighbourhood by that name unless it has a gravel road (or no road). Where I live, trails are absolutely everywhere: there’s a forest trail to Rolley Lake, which then skirts the lake’s perimeter and forks with one quick path leading to a modest waterfall. There’s a 20 to 30 minute circuit that climbs up and down the gentler sides of a sheer cliff with an unbelievable payoff of a view (there’s the Stave Falls Dam dividing the muddy Stave and the gorgeous Hayward Lake; there’s the Fraser, a fat watery snake with tiny boats cutting through the muddy waters; beyond that, Abbotsford or Aldergrove, and on a nice day, a distant smudge of the States). Over fear of word count, I refrain from gushing about the trails around the whole of Hayward.
You know what else is awesome? If you live in the valley, it is quite likely that you are as blessed as me, whether you’re in the boonies or not. Maple Ridge has the Golden Ears and the UBC Research Forest trails, Abbotsford has Sumas Mountain and a fun trail of Discovery that snakes across the whole town, and Chilliwack has Elk Mountain and Mount Cheam. I’m barely scratching the surface here — Google your home town alongside ‘trails’ and see what pops up.
Hiking is fantastic because it doesn’t feel arbitrary. Despite how important it is to overall health, my biggest hurdle with physical activity is that it feels like I am not giving fuel to some glorious trajectory where I am to ultimately overcome great hurdles of life — “I’m just doing a bunch of dumb push-ups, I could be doing something more important.” Meaning can be found at the top of a mountain or at the foot of a once-hidden lake. A bewildering, gorgeous view after a hard trek could move a hiker to tears. It’s definitely enough motivation for me to get out there, and the physical activity is a bonus.
A lot of those locations I mentioned earlier require some access to transportation. However, that shouldn’t stop anyone who can’t leave their abode so readily to go for an adventure. Consider your neighbourhood as prime hiking ground and get moving — seek out (legally and safely) the idiosyncrasies and beautiful sights of the area like you would on a favourite hiking spot. Think of it also as preparation for bigger, later adventures: you are getting out there, and you are getting your heart rate up.
It’s easy to miss interesting things about your neighbourhood when you haven’t explored it. When I was a newcomer to Mission, I went for a few drives around town, and was caught completely off-guard when a neighbourhood had a narrow, gravel road that seemed to descend between and under two houses, only to somehow end up in front of Hatzic Lake. If you are open to exploring the valley, or even just your own area, expect it to surprise you in awesome ways.