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By Jane Cassie
For Travel Writers' Tales

We did a lot of hiking when we were first married. But that was a couple of decades and a dozen pounds ago. So, when Brent suggests that we re-connect with Mother Nature's tundra trails, I'm feeling skeptical about conquering the ascent.

Canoeing calm waters of Buntzen Lake

"It'll be fun," my Olympian-fit husband assures me. "And we'll start out easy-like the hike at Buntzen Lake." Childhood memories flash back to this picnic spot, just east of Anmore; canoes on still waters, sandy beaches edging the shore and a low-level trail rimming the perimeter. Even my aging knees can handle this two-hour saunter.

But after arriving at this adventure playground, instead of taking the low road, we head for higher hills. 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 fifteen kilometer 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 that it's aptly named; ten heart-thumping ascents and ten scenic summits. Our tag-along schnauzer is excited. She seems to have reclaimed some puppy pep and is as hyped as my 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 kilometer 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 (transformed mountain goat) is having the time of her life and is running circles around me. Why was I ever worried about her heart? I'll likely be the one needing a pacemaker after this journey!

Enjoying one of the scenic summits

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 be in agreement, 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 five hundred and sixty meters, 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 Tony 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!

Our trail cuts through a Hansel and Gretel type thicket

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 kilometers of rugged terrain, I can proudly say I've reclaimed my hiking legs-unlike our carried canine!

Our canine takes the easy way out


Other BC hikes:

PHOTOS by Brent Cassie

1. Canoeing calm waters of Buntzen Lake. Photo Compliments of Tourism BC taken by Albert Normandin
2. Enjoying one of the scenic summits
3. Our trail cuts through a Hansel and Gretel type thicket
4. Our canine takes the easy way out

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