Before we made our permanent move from The Netherlands to Maple Ridge, we had 13 days to find a house and schools for our children.
Thanks to our fabulous realtor Ken Hemminger, we succeeded in finding our perfect family home and our schools.
As an expert and lover of the great outdoors, Ken knows his way around the real estate jungle, local trails, and consequently, has great stories to tell about this area.
The biggest impact on us was his narration about climbing to the top of the Golden Ears - a trip he made approximately 30 years ago.
We put the climb on our to-dolist here in Maple Ridge. Mind you, we did Mt. Kilimanjaro in six days, so how hard could it be to hike Golden Ears in one day? The weekend before last, 10 of us (including: four teenagers, two fit moms, one fit dad, one not so fit father, and two adolescents) completed the 24-km round trip in 13 hours.
We took off at 7:23 a.m. from the West Canyon parking lot; still joking, laughing, free of any aches and pains, cramps, mosquito bites, bruises, etc.
This was the last time we saw our boys; at an alarming fast pace they trailed ahead and away from us - only to be seen again at the very top.
The first six kilometres, up to Alder Flats is a relatively easy, flat hike.
Then, everything changes; all of a sudden it becomes very tricky to find and stay on the marked trail (pink ribbons and orange markers).
There is so much beauty around you, amazing scenery ahead of you, and treacherous territory below you: the trail takes you across half-rotten bridges, it makes you stumble across humongous roots, and you need to squeeze through crevices or literally pull yourself up and climb over rocks to continue on the path.
At one spot, somebody built a ladder into the wilderness to make the 90-degree vertical accent humanly possible. Standing still was torture, the horse flies, mosquitoes, and other flying annoyances were on us from the moment we stopped - repellent spray or not.
It took us five hours to get to the emergency shelter - and another hour to the very top.
To reach the peak, you can cut straight across through the snowfields or take the slightly longer, rocky path around.
The snow is slushy and yet still firm enough to dig your toes in; once again, it was hard going.
After the snow, it is one last push through a steep rock incline and - Voila! - you are standing on top of Maple Ridge.
And, in our case, reunited with our teenagers who did it all in one easy, breezy, four hours.
The view from the top is nothing less than spectacular, breathtaking, amazing, rewarding, and beautiful.
You will see Pitt Lake in all its beauty, the winding Fraser River, Mission, Coquitlam and of course, Maple Ridge.
The good news at the top is the view and a sigh of relief you made it.
The bad news is, you need to get back down.
All of us crossed the glacier sliding down on our heels, on our backpacks, or on our butts.
One word of warning here: Sliding down in your shorts can lead to severe snow burn.
Once we all crossed the snow safely, our boys took off - again. With an easy, secure, athletic, refreshed spring in their step, they made their descent ahead of us.
If you have never done this hike, let me warn you, all the pain and aches start on your way back down.
Hiking down was torture, a personal battle to keep going. The first blisters appeared, the quadriceps started to protest. My backpack was burning painful strap marks on my shoulders.
The path leading back down to the parking lot seemed longer, steeper, and more challenging than on the way up.
The beautiful scenery lost its appeal. All you hope for is an end to the last four kilometres.
You are tired, but you know you can't stop.
At the end it was a race against the clock. We packed our headlights all right; but still we didn't like the idea of being alone in the dark.
As you know, enjoyable and less enjoyable things will come to an end - finally.
At 9:05 p.m. we were back at the parking lot, all 10 of us.
Once again, our boys were waiting for us. They beat us by two full hours.
Was it worth it? You bet it was. Reaching the top is your personal triumph, coming back down is victory.
When we compare Mt. Kilimanjaro with the Golden Ears we must hand it to our local mountain: What it lacks in size it more than makes up for with challenging terrain.
- Christina Waschko is a traveller, entrepreneur, fitness instructor, wife, and mom to three boys. She recently moved to Maple Ridge and wrote a book - Verry Berry Extra-Ordinary, A Mother, Her Teenage Dreams & Recipes for a Buzzing Business.
@ Copyright 2013