I’ve always been drawn to high places (probably because I’m relatively vertically challenged). I will climb anything that can hold my body weight. I used to climb trees when I was younger, but I was much lighter then. Now, I’ve moved up in the world: from climbing trees to hanging out on top of tall mountains.

I think living in Vancouver and seeing mountains every day makes us take them for granted. That said, I was in Copenhagen for a semester abroad and boy did I miss those tall, shimmering peaks. So obviously when I came home after all the holiday festivities were over, I headed up a mountain with my family. Our mountain of choice was Cypress, and on Monday last week we loaded up the car with snowshoes and made the drive up. My dog Messi jumped in the trunk as soon as we started putting our snowshoes in, and stayed there even though we didn’t actually leave for at least another half hour — he likes the mountains too.

Messi impatiently waiting for the rest of Li's group to get ready.
Messi impatiently waiting for the rest of Li's group to get ready. Courtesy Jeanette Li

The drive up was beautiful. We stopped at the last viewpoint before we reached the parking lot to look down at the tri-cities; we could see the peak of Mount Baker too.

One of my favourite things about being in the mountains is it makes the city look small and it forces me take a step back and put my life into perspective. Some of the things we get stressed about aren’t very important in the grand scheme of things, and being in the mountains is a good reminder of that. You also get to hang out with a bunch of trees and stand above giant clumps of floating water — clouds. How cool is that?

The trail we took was to Hollyburn Mountain where there is a decent amount of elevation gain.

We enjoyed a sunny afternoon hiking up the trail. Getting to lose myself in the crunch of my snowshoes and breathing in fresh mountain air was a great way to start off the semester. The view from the top was beautiful, but I think the most valuable part of hiking is disconnecting from the rest of the world and just being present where you are. My favourite part about this particular hike was getting to slide most of the way back sitting on my jacket. So many people do this that there are little butt-print slides already made for you. The climb up is always easier when you know the way down is going to be fun.

We headed down the mountain as the sun started to set, and by this point the clouds that were encroaching on Vancouver that morning had completely covered the city. After sliding my way back to the parking lot, we got back to the car as the sun dipped under the sea of clouds and I managed to snap this beautiful picture:

Courtesy Jeanette Li

As we drove back down to Vancouver, we were swallowed by thick fog; It’s funny that clouds are so beautiful to look at, but if you’re inside them you can’t see more than 20 feet in front of you.

It was nice knowing that I got a beautiful sunny day by being at Cypress instead of spending a gloomy day in the fog. If that’s not a sure sign that being up in the mountains is better than staying in the city, I don’t know what is.

And if you were wondering, yes Messi had a great time too.