We did a lot of hiking in the first few years of our marriage. But that was a couple of decades and a dozen or so pounds ago. So, when Brent suggests that we re-connect with Mother Nature and her tundra trails, I’m feeling somewhat skeptical about conquering the ascent.
“It’ll be fun,” my Olympian-fit husband assures. “And we’ll start out easy - like the hike at Buntzen Lake.” Childhood memories flash back to this picnic hot spot, just east of Anmore; canoes skim the still waters, sandy beaches border its two ends and a low-level trail rims the perimeter. Even my aging knees could surely handle this two-hour saunter.
But when we arrive at this adventure playground, instead of taking the low road, he heads for higher ground. Intersecting the southwest corner of this glistening gem is a mountain route that literally takes us up, up and away.
“Don’t worry,” Brent promises. “We don’t have to do the 15 kilometre loop. If the going gets too tough, we can turn back after any one of the viewpoints.” As well as Diez Vistas Trail being a little more than a walk in the park, I find out it’s aptly named; 10 heart-thumping ascents and 10 scenic summits. Our tag-along senior schnauzer is excited. She seems to have reclaimed some puppy pep and is as hyped as hubby about this challenge. How can I let them down?
My confidence begins to grow when we venture onto the wide-grade path that bisects the forest, crosses a floating bridge and leads to a gravel road - pretty non-threatening. Then the real trailhead and uphill begins. In fact, by the time we pass under the hydro lines at the two-and-a-quarter kilometre mark, I’m the one who’s needing a power surge!
Switchbacks scroll the mountainside and take us closer to the heavens. And while huffing and puffing my way to the first summit, I’m ready to throw in the towel. But it’s too early yet. Our cute pooch (read: transformed mountain goat) is having the time of her life and is running circles around me. Why was I ever worried about her aging heart? I’ll likely be the one needing a pacemaker after this journey!
Our trail forks to the right, rising sharply to the first summit and we’re finally privy to that hiker’s reward - a drop-dead (excuse the pun) view of forever unfolding mountains. “It gets even better,” Brent claims, when I respond with an oxygen-deprived, “Wow.” “You’ll really be blown away by the next perch.” Although it’s a poor choice of words, he’s tweaked my interest. I’m not sure if this is just a ploy to keep my rubbery legs going, but the dog seems to agree, as she wags her stubby tail and skitters onward. And I diligently follow, doing my slow but steady plod.
Nature has a magical way of instilling peace. I’m not sure if it’s the clear mountain air or escaping the city pace, but somehow I feel symbiotically connected to the surroundings and internally calm. We continue in silence, each of us lost in our own thought. At an elevation of 560 metres, we’ve conquered the brunt of this bluff, and the ridge-top plateau is now more forgiving. My heart has stopped drum rolling. I’m breathing within normal range. And my sweat-soaked shirt is providing a cool embrace. Life is good. And, as Brent promised, so are the next nine viewpoints.
Beyond the tree-fringed Deep Cove, our overview includes the metropolis of Vancouver, snow-tipped North Shore peaks, and a scattering of distant islands. Other pinnacles showcase different views: the finger-like fjord of Indian Arm, blue-smudged Toni Onley-type landscapes and the wilderness that stretches beyond. We take time to soak in the beauty and visual overload from each summit and agree that this hike is worth the sights!
Although we have the option of doing an about face and retracing our steps, we go for the full-circle tour. The Hansel and Gretel-type wooded thicket opens up to the occasional viewing bluff and peek-a-boo vistas. Down, down to lower ground. Knees, knees, hang in there please! We end up on the north side of Buntzen Lake, a quick pit stop for refreshment and reprieve. From here, we can take the easier east-side lake trail back to our rescuing vehicle, or join the die-hard athletes on the west shore. By now, I’m motivated to give it my all. And after four more kilometres of rugged terrain, I can proudly say I’ve reclaimed my hiking legs - unlike our carried canine!
APRIL 2010 SENIOR LIVING MAGAZINE VANCOUVER ISLAND
APRIL 2010 SENIOR LIVING MAGAZINE VANCOUVER AND LOWER MAINLAND
How to get to Diez Vistas Trail
- Head east through Port Moody/Coquitlam
- Make a left onto Ioco Road
- Follow the signs for Anmore and Buntzen Lake
- Park in the southwest corner of the lot
Best time for this hike: April - October
Elevation Gain: 440 metres
Highest point: 560 metres
This circuit can be completed in less than four hours. We took a leisurely five.
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