THE ART OF PERSEVERANCE: CANADIAN EDITION
There are some people who know when to quit, and Canadians are not those people.
I'd like to blame what happened on our Canadian stubbornness, but even I have to admit that occasionally we just make really bad choices.
Our weekend was very full. At least, that was our excuse for such a late start to our hike. We arrive at Yoho National Park at 12:00pm, and finally start our preferred trail at one o’clock in the afternoon. Belatedly becoming worried about our diminishing daylight, we choose initially to hike only to Yoho Pass. We have a Parks Canada map in our pocket, as well as two bananas, an apple, a sandwich, water bottles, one flashlight and one headlight, and two beer for when we successfully make it to the top. This does not yet seem important to us.
We have an eager attitude, so we end up flying past the Whiskey Jack Hostel and to our intended stopping point. We have a bite to eat, sitting at the lake until past four pm before making the decision to add more to our route: the beautiful Emerald Lake. Only 7.3km away. There is a point in every adventure where you look back and say “that was it, that was the turnaround point.” This was our turnaround point. We gave ourselves a half hearted turnaround time of 5:30pm, so as to not be caught hiking out in the dark.
We reach Emerald Lake. It has been all downhill from Yoho Pass, accelerating us toward the bottom. We consider returning the way we came, but decide against it– after all, it was all downhill! We’re less sure of our path now and questioning which path leads us back to our campsite, but still confident that we are making good time.
We have passed our only way back to our campsite by about 20 minutes and end up at Emerald Lake Lodge. Consulting a more accurate map tells us we must backtrack back to Burgess Pass, and that it will not be an easy hike.
After climbing steeply uphill for half an hour, we approach a mother and daughter descending Burgess Pass. Hopefully, we ask about what to expect ahead and are unsurprised to hear it will still be a long and tough trek. They ask us if we need their flashlight, and we decline. We continue up the steep zigzagging path. After a few minutes they holler up the mountain, “Do you need a ride?" We consider it briefly before asserting our unwarranted confidence and shouting back that we are fine.
We successfully reach the top of Burgess Pass. We eat our remaining bananas and leave the beers; we are much too tired. We feel the worst is over. Dusk is setting in.
If we are too tired for beer, we are probably near death
It is completely dark now. Fear threatens to sink in; it starts with small jokes about bears and grows to talk of mountain lions. We are on a path wide enough for one, with a steep cliff to one side, scaling the mountain. My flashlight is getting dim, though Lucas’ headlamp is powerful enough to light the way. When we finally do make it back to Yoho Pass we are ecstatic, but soon the rain starts to barrage us. Fitting. The first corner we turn, a pair of eyes glow in the light of the headlamp. We freeze, images of mountain lions lingering in our minds, but the mid sized animal scurries into the brush. We tentatively continue, each zigzag down the mountain bringing a flash of it’s eyes before the animal scurries away to the next zigzag.
We make it back the the truck, but still have yet to set up camp. Before making multiple trips bringing our camping gear to the site in the darkness, we sit inside the truck and eat Nutella. We set up camp and pass out, neither of us moving a single muscle all night and each of us experiencing the best sleep of our lives.
Have you ever had multiple chances to make a good choice and stubbornly committed to the worst available one? Don't be embarrassed, we do it constantly– share your experiences in the comments!
*Disclaimer: we do not advise hiking in the pitch black, legitimately there is a lot of dangerous shit here.