I woke up on Friday morning to an overwhelming feeling of restlessness. I needed to get out — out of my house, out of the city and out of my comfort zone. I texted my friend Pauline about my need to get away and she willingly agreed to go exploring with me. Our destination of choice — Lighthouse Park.

The early morning drive through North Vancouver was beautiful with fog lifting off the mountains in the distance. It was officially autumn — my favourite time of the year. The early birds were already out walking their dogs with coffee in hand and wrapped in layers to combat the chilly temperature. I can still feel the dampness of the crisp morning air creeping through the seams of my sweater.

We quickly parked, bundled up and grabbed an old park map which led us towards the lighthouse lookout point. The trail crept between towering evergreens, with the filmy morning mist rising from the ground and a veil of fog hovering just above the floor of ferns.

Upon arrival at the lookout, we clambered up on the rocks to get a view. The lighthouse stood just beyond the trees against a backdrop of low hanging clouds and grey water. Wanting to get a closer look, we carefully made our way down the slippery rocks, only to discover that our view was blocked by the trees.

Slightly disappointed by the scenery, we sat atop the rocks and brainstormed how we could best climb down to the base of the lighthouse. We went back to the main trail and began to wander through the surrounding area containing small cabins.

We followed a descending footpath which brought us to a gate. The pathway to the lighthouse was just beyond it, but we were brought to an abrupt halt. On the gate was bright yellow tape with the words “Do Not Enter” printed on it.

Hesitantly, we looked around to see if any people were nearby, weighing the risks and benefits of trespassing. With a look passing between us, we realized we were unashamed by our readiness to trespass and took a step forward, only to hear a noise behind us. It was a BC Hydro employee in his truck, unloading his gear to go work on the lighthouse. We realized that this wasn't going to be the day that we got to explore the lighthouse.

We headed back up to the main path and decided to go past the lookout trail to see if we could explore further up along the edge of the park, in order to get a view from a different angle. Wandering through the wet trees, we found a small path leading towards the water. As we went in a single file down the slope, the trees cleared and there we stood atop a meager hill leading down to a rock beach with calm water making small ripples upon the stones.

The glade widened and upon scanning the area, an exclamation of excitement spewed from my lips. Leaving Pauline behind, I scrambled down the rocky slope and slid beneath a fallen tree to get to the edge of the water. With Pauline yelling at me in bewilderment, I waved my arms for her to follow, all the while signalling for her to be quiet. A large, spotted seal lounged on the rocks in front of us.

Pauline caught up to me and we stood in silent excitement, gawking at the creature. Relaxing in the morning sun, the seal rested on low sitting rocks in the water, completely undisturbed. In that instant, I felt so appreciative of the moment I was sharing with my friend. It was calming and gratifying to appreciate being in the present, just the two of us.

Upon reaching for my camera, I was disheartened for having only brought my 24mm lens. In hindsight, however, I’m glad I forgot a zoom lens. Although I wasn’t able to get close-up photos of the seal, it allowed me to appreciate being in the moment rather than focusing on getting the perfect shot.

After realizing the seal wasn’t going anywhere, Pauline and I began to climb up the rocky terrain to see how far we could go. Jumping from rock to rock, I was struck by a wave of child-like nostalgia, kept going further and further until there was nowhere left to climb. The scenery around us was stunning. The solid white rocks beneath our feet seemed to glow in the sun that was just beginning to peek out from behind the clouds. We could hear the water crashing against the rocks and see the deep-green trees stood sturdily upon the cliff behind.

After what must have been over an hour of climbing and exploring the rocky terrain, we decided it was time to head home. Passing the seal on our way back, we stopped to get one last look before heading on our way. Our walk back to the car was brief once we managed to find our way back to the main trail, and our conversation consisted of how awe-struck we were by our seal sighting and how silly I looked clambering down the rocks to see it.

Our morning wandering around Lighthouse Park turned out to be exactly what I needed — time spent in the open air and space to let my mind wander. Days like this make me overwhelmingly appreciative for people in my life who are willing to drop everything for me. Exploring the forest and coastal rock face that autumn morning and catching a glimpse of sea-life was amazing, but what’s more important is that I was able to share it with someone I care about.