Hadn’t made any firm plan to hike. I had a ton of work to do, so I grappled with the decision to either stay home or go for a hike. If you take care of yourself you are likelier to produce higher quality work and work more efficiently. But, despite this sound logic – I still felt that sense of guilt that I didn’t have my priorities straight. So there was this loud voice in my head saying “Lyda, you don’t have time for anything else right now, especially with the upcoming launch of the Greater Victoria Green Team “. I had to really work at shutting that voice up and reminding myself that self care is not just important to me on a personal level but also very important on a professional level too. So, I decided I was going to go hiking!
Decided to give Brandywine Mountain a shot. I had been there twice before, once in 2005 and once in 2006. Back then I remember standing on the slippery scree on the way up thinking to myself that I was in way over my head. I did not make the peak either time (I’d made it to about an hour or so from the peak). The first time I gave Brandywine Mountain a try in 2005 someone from another hiking group helped me down the slippery scree, which consisted mainly of encouraging words that I could do it. The second time I went there in 2006, I wondered why the heck I hadn’t learned from the first time that this was not a hike for me. Decided back then not to come back again. It’s been a long time… and I was curious to see how I would do this time. Back in 2005 and 2006 I was fitter (and skinnier), so this was definitely going to be interesting. To sum it up. It turned out to be one of the easiest hikes/scrambles I’ve done. I was in a daze afterwards wondering why I had been so worried about this hike. I think it must be that over the years I’ve built myself up mentally to tackle more challenging hikes. It could also be that I am more experienced now. Instead of hiking on the slippery scree like I had the other two times, I stuck to bigger more firm rocks.
We drove along the forest service road off Hwy 99 (Brandywine Mountain is between Squamish and Whistler) until we reached a sign that said 2kms to the lower parking lot and 5 kms to the upper parking lot. Because it was now pretty late in the day, we decided to give the upper parking lot a shot and avoid the 365 meters elevation gain in forest bit from the 2WD trailhead. The road wasn’t too bad. We got to a sign that said 2kms to the Brandywine Meadows trailhead and the road looked dodgy. We decided to not chance it and parked here. We started off just after 12pm. That 2kms was a super easy walk and we got to the trailhead in 20mins. It took only 10 mins and we were in Brandywine meadows. From what I recall it is at least one hour to the meadows from the 2WD trailhead down below. Brandywine Meadows was beautiful! We walked along the trail which was mainly flat. There weren’t too many wild flowers. I also noticed there weren’t many mosquitoes either. Some parts of the trail were muddy. There were two creek crossings. The first one was easy enough. The second one, not so much. The water was rushing by and I found it a challenge to cross. So I wandered up further and Shawn helped me get across on a log.
Now we were at the foot of the Mountain. It was only an hour from the car. Up we went, towards the dreaded scree!! There was a skinny trail on the slippery loose scree. I avoided it completely by sticking to bigger firm rocks to the left of it.
We got to the top of that first slope to the ridge. Beautiful views all around us.
The last push to the peak and finally we made it! From the car it had taken us 3 hours and 20 mins. We were there at around 3.30pm. We had lunch, signed the summit register and enjoyed the amazing views all around us. We hung out there for over an hour!
Started to head down at 4.40pm
On the last part of our descent into the meadow we spotted two marmots. Noticed a lot more mosquitoes now (where were they before?). Once down at the meadow, Shawn said he thought the way I’d crossed the creek earlier was more challenging than the way he’d crossed. So, I went to where he’d crossed and he looked for a way to make it easier for me to cross. I decided to just cross and promptly slipped on a rock and fell into the stream. It wasn’t deep, but because of the way I fell in. I was wet all the way up to just below my waist. My feet were swimming pools all the way back to the car (lucky this didn’t happen on the way up!).Note to self: next time, I’m just taking my boots and socks off and going across in the water from the get go!). This is where I fell in:
The walk back to the car was beautiful got to see the sun setting on the Black Tusk
The elevation gain 1019 meters and we hiked 15kms
All in all, it was an amazing day. When I got home, I thought about my answer when someone recently asked me about my fitness level – I told her I was not fit and argued all the reasons I thought I was not fit. Truth of the matter is, while I definitely could lose a few pounds, I am fit. It’s taken me until now to feel comfortable saying that simple statement “I am fit”. Don’t know why it’s so hard to make this positive statement about myself! I also thought about my concerns about making it to the peak of Brandwine Mountain. At the start of most hikes, I wonder the same thing. Sure, there are definitely going to be hikes/scrambles that are going to be over my level of comfort which I won’t do, but overall I’m a pretty decent hiker and do challenging hikes. I need to stop selling myself short and stop questioning myself so much!