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Sep 12 2003 / Aaron

Reunions, Proposals, and Bears! Oh My!

So there are a LOT of new things to report on since my last update. Christine and I went on a trip in August to Vancouver Island. We started with a wonderful visit at a family reunion (on my mother’s side). It was a smashing good time. My uncle rented a cabin on Shawinigan Lake and we got to swim and eat and eat and eat a lot. We had a talent show night which was also a lot of fun. When it was my turn I dropped dah bomb on everyone by getting up and proposing to Christine in front of everyone. Yuppers, I’m so sorry ladies, but I am engaged. That caused a great deal of hoopla, and everyone started leaping around hugging and crying. I’m typically not a very romantic guy most of the time, so I like to save all my romance points up for a long time and then unleash them in a fury of scalding romantitude.

Anyhoo, after the reunion we went to Victoria and visited my Grandparents who put us up in a oceanside motel with a grand view of the harbour. The next day my dad drove us up to Jordan River and we started a hike of the Juan de Fuca trail. I had been hoping this trail would be a lot easier than the West Coast Trail, so that Christine would enjoy it. As it turned out, this trail is pretty damned greuling as well. It wasn’t nearly as muddy, but there was very little beach hiking, and the ups and downs through the rain forest were a slog. Our second day was quite the adventure. It was a measly ‘eleven kilometers’. Of course, these kilometers are not normal kilometers. It took us 8 hours of hiking to finish that day. Each kilometer consisted of a series of switchbacks up a few hundred meters, and then back down into a valley to cross a stream or river. Repeat ad naseum. At about the half-way point we ran into a solo hiker, Jeff, who was retreating back down the trail to find us. He had just run into a black bear and knew we were close behind. Together, we walked back up the trail and found the bear just sitting there by the trail. It wasn’t acting agressive, but it wasn’t showing any signs of fear towards us and it certainly didn’t care to move from its comfortable spot (it was reclined against a tree).

We decided to bushwack around the bear. This turned out to be extremely difficult. Off the trail it was a meter or more of rotting forest debris covering everything. It was slow pickings, and treacherous terrain. Besides the foresty type obstacle course, the terrain consists of high amplitude hills and valleys, and impenetrable portions of brush and water channels. At one point I stepped on a rotting log and disturbed a wasp which proceeded to sting the bejeezuz out of my ankle. Later, Christine took a spill down a hill and snapped off one of her hiking poles, and she got scratched up pretty good too. It took us an hour and a half to walk about 200 meters past the bear. Once we found the trail again (which was not an easy task), we slogged more of the same awful ups and downs for hours. At one point Christine sunk into some mud past her knees. It took both Jeff & I to pull her out. She was not a happy camper. We reached the campsite just as the sun was setting and had just enough twilight left to pitch the tent.

The next day we hiked again with Jeff, on what was luckily a much shorter day (3 or 4 hours of hiking). Jeff was extremely fun to hike with. He was one of those super-nice, super-well rounded, super-experienced type guys. It seems he had worked a half-dozen totally different carreers, and tried just about every hobby there is. Needless to say, we had a lot of good conversations to pass the time while hiking. The next campsite had a gorgeous beach, and we arrived early enough in the day to relax on the beach and enjoy the sun. Someone tipped us off about a secret waterfall. We hiked two minutes up from a little brook running out of the forest and down to the ocean. We climbed over big fallen trees and roots and through the creek, into what progressively became a large narrow canyon. The walls were about 40 feet high and covered in lush green moss. The canyon was no more than 2 meters wide, so the effect was stunning. At the end was a breathtaking waterfall and beneath it, shallow pool. We took turns showering in the abso-freezing-lutley frigid waterfall. It was nice to wash the sweat and grime off.

The next day, the eternally kind Jeff offered to drive us back to Victoria, so we took him up on his generous offer and did just that. What a nice dude. We spent the next two days hanging out in Victoria, shopping, sightseeing and visiting with relatives.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

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