On Saturday morning, I was trying to come up with something to do with the girls without the Jeep (my husband had it at work) when my cousin called. They were going to hike Mount Finlayson; did we want to come? Did we?!? In ten minutes (and a dozen trips up and down the stairs), I had the girls ready to go and out the door. We caught the bus over to my cousins’, then rode with them to Goldstream Park to start hiking.
I put Lily in the Ergo carrier, threw a few snacks into my cousin’s backpack, and we were off. At the start of the trail, a large sign announced the distance (1.5 km), cautions to follow the marked path, and a note that this trail “is not suitable for young children.” Hmmm. I said we’d see how far Sunshine could go, and if we had to turn back, then we had to turn back.
|Trillium by the trail|
The first part of the trail was a gravel path, wide enough for my cousin and I to walk with Sunshine between us while my other three cousins went on ahead. Huge trees and verdant undergrowth soon blocked out the sound of the nearby highway. Trilliums bloomed in the shade and moss covered fallen trees. Then the trail switchbacked, heading up towards the top. It dropped down a steep, rooty slop to a short footbridge, and then went back up a longer, steeper, rootier slope on the other side.
We gave Sunshine several offers of piggy back rides, but she was happy to hike. Finally, just after the footbridge, she agreed to a ride. We stretched out our legs and hiked as fast as we could until taking a break at a Y in the trail—and the start of the steep section. When we started again, Sunshine declined a ride, so we took turns following her, helping her clamber up over the rocks and roots.
As the trail emerged out of the trees, I could see the top—or so I thought. The trail was now narrower, making us pause occasionally to let other hikers come down (or go up if they were hiking faster than us), and at times we were even bouldering. But it seemed that we were almost there, and Sunshine was having fun climbing, so we kept going… and going… and going…
Each corner brought another view of more trail, winding up through the rocks, twisting back around. We’d made a game for Sunshine of following the orange markers, but now that was a serious game, as trails snaked around the rocks in several directions. I began to wonder if I should take the girls back down and let my cousins go to the top by themselves, but we seemed to be so close. Finally, we convinced Sunshine to once again get piggy-backed, and we finished the last fifteen minutes to the top of the trail.
As everyone going down had promised, the view from the top was fantastic. Mount Baker rose in the distance—a tall white mountain against a pale blue sky—and other Washington mountains stretched out across from us. A few big freighters rested on the ocean. Victoria itself spread out before us, with Bear Mountain just below, and the green hills of the rest of the island fading into the distance. A cool breeze made the warm sun more tolerable. We finished our water, shared snacks, took a few pictures, and then started down again.
I tried passing Lily (back in the Ergo) to my cousin so I could piggyback Sunshine, but Lily howled her protest at that. After about fifteen minutes, I stopped to nurse her. She still refused to ride with anyone other than Mommy, so I carried her once again and Sunshine also refused to ride with anyone else. She clambered down over the rocks, while we helped her, usually with one of us below and another above. Even when we reached the wide trail, she wanted to keep walking, and didn’t stop until we reached the car.
Sunshine garnered quite a few comments from fellow hikers (some of them along the lines of “well if she can make it up there then we can too!”). Even I was impressed with how well she hiked; I had expected that we’d take turns carrying her and thought that hiking with a big group would make that easier. While we had to go slower to let her walk, she hiked probably three-quarters of the trail by herself. It took us roughly two hours to hike up and an a hour and a half to hike down. It’s one of the best day-hikes I’ve been on and we might do it again soon, with my husband and another friend who couldn’t make it on Saturday.