Before we had kids Peter and I used to do a decent amount of hiking. He’s an outdoorsy kind of guy and I was starting to get the hang of being a more outdoorsy kind of girl.
But I have to say I was a pretty horrible hiker. Peter had the tendency to downplay most of our hikes. An “easy 45 min hike” would turn into a 2 hour super steep trek to the top. A “quick snowshoe around the lake” would actually mean trudging through snow that didn’t actually support us and sinking knee deep with every step around a lake that had a lot of hills.
I don’t do so well with this underestimation on the difficultly of hikes. In fact it would make me quite cranky and I would end up swearing at Peter half the way to the top of our climb. So why did he keep asking me to go hiking? I’m not sure. Perhaps he has a poor memory.
Things have changed a bit since those days. I’m in better shape. I love setting new goals. I love new challenges. So back in May when Peter suggested we climb Fisher Peak this summer during our trip to BC, I was totally excited! I’ve heard people talk about Fisher Peak before and Peter always points it out when we are in the area. It’s the highest summit in the Southern Rockies and kind of a right of passage for people in the Cranbrook area. I knew it was going to be a tough one but was super pumped to “prove myself” to him.
Now, when he first mentioned doing this hike it sounded hard, but doable. It was a 5k trek to the top. I mean really, 5k up? No problem. I know it’s pretty steep but I run 5k, how hard can that be? Then as we got closer to our hiking date, more and more facts about the difficulty of the hike came out. Like how the elevation gain from the trail head is 4590ft. That makes it an average 30% grade the whole way up. Um…I have trouble walking at a 10% grade on the treadmill. How, you aren’t just climbing on a nice little hiking path, oh no…lots of loose rock, shale…oh and did I mention that you are actually going to need to do a lot of scrambling? On the very top of this 9300 ft mountain? On the edge? Like you might not want to look down… Oh right, and the 4 hours of climbing straight up is the easy part…now you have to come down.
Two nights before the hike we arrived at my in laws house. They weren’t sure whether or not to tell me about the article in the paper. The one that said there have been 5 parties rescued from Fisher Peak this summer. My hubby assured me I would not be the 6th party rescued. That those other parties were ill prepared for the trip. He’s an experienced hiker who has actually hiked this mountain twice already. I’d be perfectly safe.
Since I trust my hubby and know he wouldn’t put me in a situation I couldn’t handle, I decided not to worry too much. But what I did do was ask a ton of questions about the hike to make sure that he was not underestimating anything this time. I wanted to know what to expect. I wanted to make sure I was going in there fully prepared mentally for the difficulty of this hike. If I go in there knowing it’s a grueling 4-5 hour climb I can handle that. I’m prepared for that. But if the difficulty is sugar coated, it’s kind of like entering a 5k race, running an awesome race, pushing myself as much as possible through the last 1k, getting there and someone telling me…ok, only 5k more to go! Chances of me being able to run another 5k after that? About 0% cause I prepared myself for a 5k, not a 10k. This time I wanted all the details.
After talking to a few more people and feeling like I had all the details I was ready to do this! So hubby and I headed out for our climb. And I have to say this was the funnest hike I’ve ever done. We had SUCH a great time. No swearing involved (ok I may have let one slip out on the way down when I fell on my butt), but I managed to stay in a good mood the whole 4 hours up. It was such an amazing feeling to be able to push myself during the climb. I’d look up and see how far we’d have to go, how steep the climb was and just revel in the fact that I was actually doing this. That I was actually capable of doing this. I was hiking a mountain I never thought I’d ever be able or even want to climb! And that I was doing this with my favorite person in the world.
The end of the hike was a lot of scrambling. And again, I NEVER thought in a million years I would enjoy this part. But turns out, it was my favorite part of the hike! I kind of felt like Tom Cruise at the beginning of Mission Impossible 2:
Ok so maybe it wasn’t QUITE like that. But I still felt pretty badass.
Once at the summit I was just completely awestruck. Peter always takes pictures at the top of his climbs and honestly I can’t say I was too overly impressed by any of them. I mean they’re pretty pictures but I just didn’t GET it. But once at the top of Fisher Peak I realized that this was something that could not be captured in a photograph. You have to be there to truly understand the experience. Looking around and seeing for miles and miles all this beautiful creation that surrounds you. Getting a tiny glimpse of the “bigger picture” that you don’t see in your everyday life. The feeling of accomplishment mixed with the most breathtaking sight…I was so overcome with emotion that I almost shed a tear.
We took in the beauty for a while, had some lunch, snapped some pictures and then it was time to make our way back down. I’m not going to lie, that was tough. If you would have told me that instead of going down the mountain I had the option to do the climb up again, I would definitely have chosen to climb up. Loose rock and I do not get along. I am not the most sure-footed person and I get freaked out pretty easily. But thankfully Peter was ultra patient and he always scouted out the easiest path for me. It actually took us almost exactly the same amount of time to get down from the peak as it did to climb up. 4:10 up and 4:07 down. It was pretty brutal and very hard on the knees. BUT, we made it! Once I finally saw the trailhead I wasn’t sure whether I should do my happy dance or just collapse right there.
Tell me, what was your favorite hike?