by Marilea Rabasa
The summer of 2007 was difficult for me personally, and Gene thought it would be good for us to get away and distract ourselves, seeing one of the most spectacular sights in British Columbia. But he wanted to surprise me.
So on the highway to Whistler, Gene shouted suddenly, “Stop the car! I want to show you a beautiful lake. Drop dead, gorgeous, just like you,” planting a kiss on my cheek.
Well, he was a charmer. That’s one reason I fell for him. And I was game. What could this man have up his sleeve that would make me forget my personal troubles?
Fifteen switchbacks. I counted ‘em. It was a long way up. The trail seemed to go for a mile one way before it mercifully switched back in the other direction.
And we were backpacking. Up a mountain. With full loads.
About halfway up, tired and irritable, we decided to lighten our loads by eating our hamburgers.
Six hours later near the end of the trail after a drenching downpour, we saw the lake Gene had promised me, and he was right. It was a magnificent visual delight to top off a grueling day. Creamy turquoise from the glacial till. Like a diamond in the desert, it was worth the hike up.
We arrived at the campsite and pitched our tent on an elevated spot overlooking Lake Garibaldi and Sphinx Glacier. Gene is a photographer and has many of his prints framed. But I would have to say that that view of the glacier from where we rested our weary bodies was probably one of the most magnificent shots he’d ever taken.
So began three days of wilderness hiking on less food than we would have liked. But food for the soul? Ah, there was plenty of that.
The next day we tackled the real focus of our trip: a demanding trek up to the Black Tusk, a volcanic neck on the shoulder of Mt. Garibaldi. We made it, got all the way up to the snow line. The snow line? In July?
We’d been living on the East Coast too long. Of course there was snow in July at high elevations! How could I forget camping in Yellowstone one summer when a blizzard nearly flattened our tent and we had to scuttle into Gene’s truck for warmth?
We trudged back down to the campsite and were delighted to accept a dinner invitation from our neighbors. They had made a huge cauldron of couscous to share with anyone nearby, and food had never tasted so good to me as it did that evening.
The next day we hiked around the stunning lake named after the mountain. Surrounded by so much natural beauty, I forgot about my problems, my physical hunger, and settled for gratitude that we had lived long enough to appreciate what was right in front of us.
Life, as with anything else, is just a matter of perspective.
Marilea Rabasa is a retired teacher and the award-winning author of her first memoir, A Mother’s Story: Angie Doesn’t Live Here Anymore. Her recovery blog is published at www.recoveryofthespirit.com. She and her partner have an orchard in New Mexico. Summers are for grandchildren and salt air at their home on an island in Puget Sound.