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Saturday, March 16, 2013

View? What view? I came for the adventure!

I start to become restless in February and March.  I am pretty much done with winter activities on the island by then.  Driving the same road to go downhill skiing, hiking in the rain, wet shoes after every trail run, searching for new places to snowshoe only to be stopped by locked forestry gates, and freezing wet hands while bike riding.  For the most part, I love doing all this!  All I am saying is...it is time for summer.  Time for beaches, river snorkeling, rock climbing, backpacking, kayaking, caving, tshirts, shorts, sunshine and good old summertime bbq's!  See what I mean... depressing when you start to think about it.   But then something special happens that reminds me to embrace what I have, enjoy the not so perfect moments, and fall in love with adventure all over again no matter the time of year.

Life commitments have been dominating our time lately.  All good, fun, and rewarding but it has taken a toll on our weekend adventuring as a family.   Another reason I have become restless, lack of adventure.  It is so easy to fill up spare time with a little extra work or a few emails here and there, tinker around the house and a quick phone call to finish one project before beginning another.   That is exactly what was suppose to happen one grey, cloudy, rainy day until my adventure partner proposed an idea.

"Hey, what time do we have to pick up the kids from school?" Joel, my husband asked.

"2:15 same time as always" I replied with a smirk.

"And we only have the one quick appointment at 10?" he asked noting my smirk.

"Yip,why?" I replied with intrigue. "What's up?"

"I say we forget about everything else we had planned to do today and run to the top of Mt. Benson. It's been a while since we did something like that together. What do ya say?" he said.

"You had me at hey!" I replied followed by "Of course I say yes!"



At first I felt guilty to be leaving a list of things to do behind.  Even worse was heading out for an adventure without Ben and Liv but once we were on the trail all of life's responsibilities and guilt disappeared.   For a few short hours all that mattered was who I was with and the task at hand: get to the top of Mt. Benson.

Mt. Benson is the highest mountain in the Nanaimo area.   It sits just west of Nanaimo and will reward those who climb to the top with a stunning panoramic view.  Trail access is on Benson View Rd at Witchcraft Lake.   We used Trail #1, Old Road, and Rafe's Way to reach the summit of Mt. Benson. We hit patches of snow at Old Road which quickly turned to complete snow covered trails on Rafe's Way.   It would have been wise to have ice grips and avoid the risk of sliding down the mountain but we were not wise this day.   It would have been wise to summit Mt. Benson on a clear day to take in as much of the view as possible but we were not wise this day.


However, our lack of wisdom created a special moment and allowed us to be kids again.  If we had used ice grips we would never have experience the adrenaline rush of sliding down the narrow steep trail (sometimes with trees surrounding us, other times with drop offs to one side) on our feet, hands and butt!   At one point I slipped out of control, arms and legs flailing everywhere, heading right for a tree but thankfully crashed into Joel.   We laughed so hard I was crying!  There were times I could hear Joel up ahead yelling "yeehaw" and I knew that meant a slippery steep section was coming up. Who needs ice grips anyway?

Of course I would have preferred to summit Mt. Benson on a clear sunny day but how many people can say they reached the top to enjoy a complete whiteout?  Even in these conditions the view is breathtaking.   It's magical, mysterious, eerie and beautiful all at the same time.   It is not the first time Joel and I have reached a summit in whiteout conditions and for some strange reason I prefer it that way.
View from the summit of Mt. Benson.  Picture perfect whiteout.

As we made our way down the mountain all of life's responsibilities started to come back but that was ok.   The to do list's did not seem as daunting now plus I was filled with adventure energy and was ready to tackle the world.  But first I needed to eat, running to the summit and back (7km, 719m elevation change in 2 1/2 hours) works up quite an appetite.

"Shall we do lunch?" I asked.

"Thought you'd never ask." winked Joel.

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