An Adventure to British Columbia and Back Again
It was a rainy April morning on my first full day in the state of Washington. I purposely didn’t have a definite plan so that I could treat the day like a “choose your own adventure” game.
I scrolled around on Google Maps, looking at all my saved locations as I wondered where I could make a solid adventure. I thought of driving west to Olympic National Park and the Pacific Ocean, but the long drive times seemed too daunting.
My intuition said, ”Go north.” I had been watching The CW show “The 100″, which is filmed in beautiful British Columbia, Canada. I wanted to see those mountains.
I chose the destination of Cypress Provincial Park, which lies north of Vancouver and is only 3 hours away from Seattle. I hit the road in no time and headed north on Highway 5.
The drive up Highway 5 was unimaginably gorgeous, with mountains seemingly in every direction.
I listened to the Jimmy Eat World album Integrity Blues on repeat and allowed myself to enjoy the drive. I drove, sang, and gazed longingly at the mountains surrounding me. I allowed myself to feel and do whatever felt right in that moment.
As I eyed landscapes I had never seen before, I had many different verbal reactions. Sometimes I yelled out loud, screamed, squealed, or started giggling. I was having a blast.
That’s just what nature does to me. She excites and electrifies me.
I saw lakes, rivers, bridges, and so many mountains.
I passed the steep eastward landscapes that made up the Wenatchee National Forest, Lake Chelan National Recreation Area, Mt Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, and North Cascades National Park.
The rain poured down hard. I thought to myself that it was a bit more rain than I was expecting… but then again, I didn’t spend much time checking the weather forecast in these northern areas.
As the roads winded, ascended, and descended through the landscape, I decided to treat this drive as a mental test. I focused my mind and drove carefully.
While I drove on unfamiliar roads in the rain and traffic, I did not feel any overwhelming anxiety or panic. Instead, I felt a sense of calm confidence.
That’s not to say there weren’t obstacles, though! When I crossed the border into Canada, I lost my cell phone reception and my GPS directions, since I hadn’t previously downloaded offline maps of this area. Then, I accidentally merged onto a highway going east instead of west.
Even in that moment, I was calm. It felt like an accomplishment for me, because I am known to get anxious in stressful driving situations.
This time, it was different. I felt so sure of myself. I thought, “I’ve got this.” I was confident in my ability to navigate my way to and from my destination, without the help of my GPS.
And I did have it. I exited the highway, found an entrance to the west, and got back on my way.
While I was crossing the bridge in Vancouver, my biggest struggle was paying attention to my driving, because omg these mountains and the water and AHHHHH IT’S AMAZING. It was a gorgeous view, but one I could not savor for too long.
I carefully drove up the mountain that is Cyprus Provincial Park. It was super foggy and rainy, so I pulled off at the first parking lot. There was no visibility of the surrounding landscape. The mountains and ocean were hiding from me!
I got back on the road and ascended the mountain. I spotted numerous tiny waterfalls flowing heavily from the rainfall. However, there were no good spots to pull off and take photos. I counted at least 15 of the mini-falls. I loved them and they made me smile.
I continued driving up the mountain and I stopped at the next parking area that had a few cars there. I took out my hiking gear and camera, complete with its rain cover.
It was then that I noticed it was snowing. I thought of everything that could go wrong. The tires on my tiny rental car were not prepared for this. I could end up driving off the mountain when no one knew where I was! Death by British Columbia felt entirely possible.
I decided I wouldn’t take any chances. It was too risky for me to ascend any higher on the mountain. I would head back down after hiking in this area for a bit.
When I stepped into the forest, I felt like I was in a different world. It was dark and silent. The trees were like nothing I’d ever seen before. Snow was falling, but a lot of it was being caught by the trees.
I captured a few photos of these beauties, but I knew that the images could not capture the true peacefulness and serenity that I felt beneath their shelter.
I was reminded to watch my steps as my feet sank into crunchy snow that was over a foot deep.
After I noticed a sign that stated this was a short, dead-end private trail, I knew I couldn’t go any farther. I savored those last few moments in the forest. I knew I had to depart, but I didn’t want to leave.
I drove down the mountain as it snowed. I was extremely cautious on the descent. At one point, I noticed a clearing where I could pull off to try and snap some photos. I pulled off the road and ran over several large potholes in the process. It was just some minor rental car abuse – no problem!
After I was off the mountain, I drove back in the direction that I came. The rain poured down even stronger than before. I was starting to get hungry, and I wanted to be back in the US so I could navigate and find some food.
I found my way back to the border fairly easily and entered the USA. The border guard was more concerned about transporting groceries or citrus fruit than where I had been.
I found a delicious taco place in Burlington, WA. I ate my lunch and headed back towards my Seattle Airbnb.
This spontaneous little adventure consisted of 6.5 hours of driving and singing, 20 minutes of hanging out in a forest, 20 seconds of Vancouver bliss, a handful of tacos, and endless mountains.
I didn’t drive away with any grand, gorgeous pictures of British Columbia’s sweeping views, but the memories of this experience were worth more to me.
Adventure is what you make it, so pick a direction and get out there!
I’ll definitely be back for you, British Columbia!