A Feast on First Nation’s Land

A Morning of Tannin ‘n’ Plannin

As I began scribbling my first draft of this post I was sitting in my back garden with Anaise and Raquel. For those of you who’d forgotten or are unaware – this is my current back garden:

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Another pretty blurry photo of the Stawamus Chief, I shall invest in a camera at some point…

This Tuesday just passed marked one month in this mountain town. I didn’t celebrate it in any particular way – not that it’s not worth celebrating – it really is, but I feel I celebrate it every day. My summer home is lush. Despite being besides the Sea to Sky Highway I can barely hear or see the road to the right of me. To the left is the Mamquam Blind Channel at low tide and in front is the bloody towering Stawamus Chief.¬†

What a way to spend a day off. Tanning and planning on this May morning. The temperature has been in the late twenties and the sun has been blazing down through cloudless skies. In typical British fashion I have been worshiping it’s arrival.

Many of my sunny days so far have been spent hiking under the cover of trees or working away in the kitchen at the cafe so for the last 48 hours I have been completely determined to tan and plan. Mostly tanning with a moderate level of planning… Where next is the question? I’m not in any rush to move away from the mountains, rivers and lakes but it would be nice to get a sense of what’s next for this Brit on the move.

I’m thinking late summer and the fall (Autumn ūüėČ ) will involve buying a big car, shoving some bikes and kayaks on the top and getting back on the move – in magical company of course. I’m not picturing a job in this plan so I’m gonna be working pretty hard over the coming months to make sure I got ma pennies. And theeeeeen…..¬†Where’s best to spend a white Christmas in Canada? SUCH A BLOODY EXCITING QUESTION. Snow for my birthday, what a bloody treat.

I never got round to any concrete planning but I’ve done a little research and am super excited for what the near future will hold.

Green Moustache Fundraiser

In the evening I went to my work do: a three course meal based on the Gerson Therapy; a dietary-based alternative cancer treatment.

The food was delicious, the talks were on the most part inspiring and convincing – although there was a little medication shaming going on from time to time which was horribly problematic – but I kept schtum for the sake of the company I was keeping.

The location was amazing. It was my first time up in Whistler. The drive up there was beautiful and¬†the¬†Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre¬† was an amazing setting. Here I found myself on First Nations land, being welcomed with song and blessings.

 All images courtesy of @greenmoustachesquamish on Instagram
We bowed our heads for a traditional blessing and thanked those watching down on us for this amazing food in front of us, for those who farmed the land and brought it to us and those who prepared it. We also gave best wishes and safe travels for those on the move this summer and our host spoke of us returning well to our families. I couldn’t help but feel a longing for my own family and remembered how far away they were – how far away they are. My heart lurched in my chest. I wish I could share these amazing moments with you all more closely and hope you know how much I think of you all often.
I’ve worked very hard to be where I am today, taking this adventure, but I can’t help but feel blessed to be on this journey. Hearing these First Nations songs reminded me of how privileged I am to be on their sacred land and for them to be sharing a little of their culture with me. Magical experiences like this can’t always be shared with those I love but I hope that through my writing you can understand a fraction of my experience in this beautiful country.
I really am a soppy so ‘n’ so, but it’s bloody great.
I truly feel like I’m seeing, touching and feeling things for the first time. My senses are heightened and I’m more aware of myself and my place in the world around me.¬†I touch everything, I breathe it all in and I swear I hear sounds I’ve never heard before. I’ve even started to regain something of a sense of smell too. On my hike the other day I could smell the trees around me and this morning I could smell the bacon cooking in the kitchen.
My skin is tingling from the sun and I’m in love.
The Ever-loving Abigail

This Novice Hiker

Squamish for Not-so-beginners

If you’re eyes could see what I saw yesterday ae.

I really really made the most of nature’s belays yesterday as I hiked, scrambled, climbed and slid my way up and down the hike to and from Echo Lake.¬†In the last week I feel like I’ve gone from 1 to 100 with regards to the difficulty of my hikes. My previous two posts covered Squamish for beginners, hikes with very little incline that I would rate novice/beginners at most. If they can even be considered hikes (more of leisurely walks).

Echo Lake Hike takes you across the mouth of the Squamish River, right by The Split, the hot spot for Wind Surfers here in Squamish. This part must be taken by boat and cannot be swam due to the glacial feeds into the water as well as the strong tidal currents.

Our boat was small (and new to it’s owner, our guide) so we went across two at a time, three of us squished into this tiny boat (not that I’m one to complain the trip was for free as a promotion to the hostel!) . This made for an interesting journey, the engine took a little longer than normal to get started and wasn’t very strong. We pushed on through and had to row a fair bit as we exited the strong currents. When we were dropped off, the guide headed back for the remaining two guests, friends of mine from the hostel.

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The Squamish Split (Echo Lake Crossing)

After ferrying everyone over we tied up the boat and had a brief safety chat (waivers had already been signed at the hostel). Our guide was more concerned about slips and trips than bears and cougars. The majority of the incline is steep and often slippery; it follows along a waterfall so if you take a bad slip you’re dead. Comparatively, a bad slip hiking The Chief¬†should result in no more than minor injury as the trail is very well marked, very well trodden and far less hazardous

We went on our way. The pace was good as we stopped for viewpoints and to learn more about the forest around us. The incline, albeit somewhat treacherous, was definitely easier than our descent. I was challenged with climbing and scrambling opportunities in abundance. You got a real sense of danger that got your heart pumping real good.

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You can’t see the death drop here but trust me it’s a death drop. Photo courtesy of Simon Kausch, fellow hiker from the hostel)

We didn’t get so many good photos of the climbing and scrambling as we were a bit preoccupied with all the climbing and scrambling. Here’s a bit of a blurry one from a slightly easier part.

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Image courtesy of  Logan Leedahl 

It wasn’t all plain sailing and smiley though. It really pushed me to my limits when we reached the snow. There was a lot more than expected and it was all gullied along our trail next to the waterfall so we had to head off trail (which was also very snowy). I lost my leg down into the snow at one point. We were far away from the falls at that point though so I wasn’t too shocked, I did get a chilly bum though.

Echo Lake

It was not long after this point here that my leg slipped all the way in up to my bum ^    Image courtesy of Simon Kausch

After the moss, the foliage, the gravel and the snow we reached Echo Lake. It took just under three hours I believe: including our various stops for food and viewpoints. The reward was a beautiful snow covered lake and some hot rocks to sunbathe on – I never mentioned it was more than 25 degrees – b e a utiful.

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Echo Lake (under that snow) Image courtesy of Simon Kausch

The descent is less blog-worthy. It was tough and my legs turned to jelly. I skooted a fair amount of the way on my bum and got pretty scratched and bruised.

I’m not sure what’s going to top this anytime soon (although I definitely have someone in mind to share my biggest adventures with).¬† Here’s the whole team at the top.

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Simon, Logan, Tayla and myself at the top. Image courtesy of Tayla Eddy

Over and out

The Ever-loving Abigail

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Squamish for Beginners Continued

Today I took another little trail ideal for the more placid adventurer, or someone like me who isn’t looking to venture too far from home when I’ve got work this afternoon.

The Stawamus River Trail is a completely flat trail working it’s way along the bottom of the Chief on the Squamish side. If you stick to the main gravel footpath you’re looking at no more than a half-decent dog walk, but if you venture along the interlocking paths on the waterside you’ll find the woodland is dense enough to make you feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere and that there may even be bears around any corner. I didn’t see any fresh prints today, just claw marks on the trees again – I’m supposedly in bear country out here but I’m yet to be graced with their presence.

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Stawamus River, Squamish

There were lots of logs and rocks I could hop along¬†that let me venture out a little further into the water. The water was shallow, clear and fast moving. It made this great gushing sound that made me want to stick around for ages just listening. Though, walking by myself I didn’t want to settle down too quietly anywhere. I may not have seen a bear or the elusive cougar yet but I’m not silly- I’m not in Essex anymore.

I also saw my first beaver dam since being out in Ottawa in September. Such hard workers ae. This was a little further out from the river in a little tributary, hence the less appealing colour of the water.

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Beaver dam, Stawamus River, Squamish

I chose a safe spot to settle; out in the open in a grassy plot just behind some houses. The grass was long and made for a nice squishy bed. I sat surrounded by dandelions in a field full of wishes.

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Wishing field, Squamish

I lay down blowing dandelions for ten minutes or so, soaking up my surroundings. I can’t tell you what I wished for. If it’s anything like birthday candles then the magic only works if the wishes are kept secret.

 

The Ever-loving Abigail

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Squamish for Beginners

I was somewhat distracted writing my last two posts by the company I’ve been keeping. I forgot to mention a bunch of the nice ‘travel’ things I’ve done here in Squamish over the last week or so. It’s easy to forget I’m here holidaying when I’m working so much.

But I went along some real cute trails and learnt a little bit about fly fishing down by the Mamquam River.

Squeezing trails in to the hours I’m not working means I’m limited to short, not-so-strenuous trails close by to my places of work.

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Smoke Bluffs Trail Map

Smoke Bluffs was a great start. This trail begins just beyond the adventure centre and less than ten minutes walk from the hostel. There’s a slight incline, so it comes with a few decent viewpoints.Although I found that most that we seemed to stumble across were slightly obscured by big-ass trees. I’m reassured there are greater sweet spots along this trail so I shall return again soon for a sunset and some beers.¬†And for those of you who climb there’s tons on offer. This park is made up of loads of mini trails leading to climbing sites of varying difficulty (I’m yet to get my climbing gym membership as I await my first paycheck.

Oceanfront Interpretive Trail is a fancy name for the track leading along the estuary to the ‘beach front’. This isn’t a beach as I know it but I’m sure on a gloriously sunny day the glistening water would look pretty sweet with a mountainous backdrop. We in fact did this little walk one night after I finished work. It’s pretty un-scenic as it happens. But great fun at night when there could be bears creeping around any corner. My eyes darting about constantly, waiting to see two floating red dots reflecting in our torches. No such encounters. ¬†The night time chill on the beach was pretty sweet too. It was a ridiculous time to go the beach without warmth, sunlight and the vivid mountain views, but we had the place to ourselves, I could hear the water and not much else, and I could still just about see the snow capping the mountain peaks in the moonlight. I felt like I’d stumbled upon my own private little spot.

Later in the week we also took a real small track through the woodlands across from Smoke Bluffs. The only evidence I can find of this online is something referred to as the Loggers Lane Interpretive Trail. Walking through the woodland in the pouring rain it felt like I was in a very soggy England as I happily splashed through puddles. The trees were dense so I couldn’t see through to the mountains surrounding us. I could’ve been anywhere – I didn’t mind though, I was in good company. This easy walk has zero incline as is really just a decent place to look at some impressive moss and walk the dog (miss you Monty).

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Reuben at Loggers Lane 

Finally, a little jaunt along the Mamquam River was also on the agenda. This walk took a little more time out of the morning. Walking across town for forty minutes or so to reach our destination. Apparently there’s more bears around this area. I saw a few paw prints and scratches along the trees and it got me all excited – still yet to see one bloody bear.

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Reuben along the Mamqaum

The water is pretty clear and super chilly. Reuben piggy backed me over to spots along the middle of the water and showed me a little bit about fly fishing. It was nice to learn something new on my trip. This boy has taught me a lot although I don’t think he knows it.

Since my trip to the Mamquam I’ve googled more photos and found a lush looking waterfall I’d like to visit. We shall see ae.

The Ever-loving Abigail

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Feels for Reals

Another seven days¬†have passed since I last wrote. I’m wondering if this is becoming a bad habit. We’ll see if I can get back to it. Away now for almost six weeks.

This last week I’ve went for walks in the pouring rain and juggled my two jobs, Work life balance at the minute is not quite spot on. I spent six months saving before I came here; working 36-56 hour weeks, hopefully as soon as I get my first pay check I can figure out how little I can get away with working whilst I’m here. It’s a working holiday and I really need to remember the holiday part. I’m feeling permanently exhausted at the moment I definitely need to take some time to rejuvenate really soon. (maybe a spa for my long weekend! I’ll keep you updated on that idea!).

I’ve also spent my time eating a lot more than most travellers on a budget. These past few days have been really great for scavenging – one really good thing about working in a hostel is all the left over food and all the meals travellers fancy sharing with you. Working in the cafe I get free soup and smoothies and then coming back to some more free food when I get in makes for some really cheap living. Really cheap living but also super fat living.

I’ve also spent a lot of time thinking about paddling the shores of¬†WhakatńĀne (spelt correctly first time;) ). WhakatńĀne is a town on the North Island of New Zealand¬†11,368 km from where I am now and¬†18,450 km from Moreton, where I call home back in the UK. WhakatńĀne is where Reuben, my beautiful Kiwi from my previous post, calls home.¬†Despite being surrounded by beauty here, Reuben’s longing for his home is contagious and I can’t help but find myself curious about this coastal NZ town, and what my next great journey will hold.

My thoughts have been soaring past the mountains that surround me to a far far away land and days to come. This girl has got feels for reals. Not just feels for adventures to come but who I might be able to share them with.

It’s nice to feel comfortable enough to say I really want the company without feeling that I need to spend my travels with someone. ¬†I think over the last month or so, or even the last few years of my life, I’ve proved to myself that I can be independent – it’s really nice to be at a stage where I can accept that wanting companionship is not the same as an utter dependence on another human being (not yet anyway).

I’ve rambled a bit in this post and I’m not at all sure it’s beneficial from a travel perspective. But I hope that despite the lack of anecdotes and travel advice, solo travellers can take some comfort in reading that someone else is going through the same thought processes as them. I’m sure I’m not the only one to fly half way across the world to fall in love.

DEM FEELS FO REALS

Bold statements over here, ¬†I’ll leave you with that.

Over and out

The Ever-loving Abigail

Mountain Views and Bushman Lingo

Mate.

It’s been more than a week since my last post (#soznotsoz), I’m still alive and more than well. I’ve been having too much fun it seems, and working pretty hard too.

It’s also been more than a month since arriving in Canada, fancy that, it’s now officially the longest I’ve been away from Ole Blighty. Before now, the longest I had been away was four weeks interrailing (euro-railing) in the summer of 2012. This short and sweet trip was a whistle-stop tour; whizzing around with some buds from sixth form. I remember thinking at the end of my time that I could do it again all by myself and what a totally different experience it would be.

I think I underestimated the warmth of people all around the world. I’m a super optimistic person, but travelling by myself I’ve come to just realise how bloody good people can be. Here in Squamish I have found home (for now). As much as I would like to say I’ve found home among the beautiful trees and mountain views (see below) it is the beautiful people that have welcomed me and are making my time here so special… mate, all gushing out now.

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My dorm mates are strong, sincere young women. We’re real different, but it works and it’s sorta hella special. I feel like I’ve found a matriarch in Raquel, she might come off as having a tough exterior sometimes but it all comes from her big big heart. Apparently Gemini’s and Sagittarius are complimentary opposites (Raquel’s star sign and my own), I think there might be something in it y’know… And Camille, well she’s a real cutie. She skips around, like me, and her little twinkly eyes and contagious smile keeps all the volunteers chirpy on the most part.

The guests are pretty rad too. And my god do I wanna get to know em. Working at the front desk is pretty sweet because it gives me ‘an in’. If I smile and answer all their questions I’m sure they find it easier to speak to me when I’m off shift. There’s some you don’t wanna get to know so much, but generally I wanna hear ALL the stories.

My favourite so far is a kiwi chap who bowled on in earlier in the week. Bloody beautiful smile and this mad-endearing reserved way about him. ¬†Living where I work meant that it wasn’t long before I could get him chatting away. Being the inquisitive extrovert that I am I challenged myself to get to know this quiet type. We visited the Sea to Sky Gondola on my day off, one of Squamish’s biggest tourist attractions. We spent plenty of time walking and talking, soaking up the big ole BC.¬†He’s only a bloody bushman / fisherman / madman, making a living in these real strange, dangerous environments. I’ve never met anyone with more interesting stories in my life swear down – or more interesting lingo.

I’m getting there with the lingo – I’ve realised Kiwi’s finish their sentences with eh (pronounced¬†aye) even more than Canadians do for sure. There’s also a list of other things that crop up too – hard, true. I can’t think of all the phrases just now but I’ve started thinking like it. Thinking in sentences that end in eh, imagine that eh? We’re speaking the same language but I have to proper concentrate, not so much on his accent but on all the different lingo flying left right and centre. And the jargon too, reckon I’m learning a bunch about farming, bushman life, MńĀoris and I can’t even think what else. Side note – ¬†^This is why some people reckon I’m smart cos I’m just real curious and will ask aaaallll the questions and not shut up^. ¬†I’ve been mistaken for an Aussie twice and a Kiwi once in the last week so something’s rubbing off.

Maybe I’ll return to the UK with some hybrid-traveller voice, sorry in advance folks.

As I sit here typing and looking out the window I still can’t believe where I’m at. Six months of saving and a lifetime of dreaming and I’m actually here making memories. I miss you all at home, but my god have I made a good decision. No amount of photographs on the internet can prepare you for these landscapes. It’s actually real, I can brush my fingers along the rock faces, dip my toes in the snow still settled on the mountain trails and taste the spray from waterfalls. Bloody magical stuff.

All my love

The Ever-loving Abigail

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