What Makes You Feel On Top of the World

Yesterday was the cherry on top of one of the best summers I’ve ever had. After returning from England in early July, I made it my mission to appreciate just how beautiful BC really is (not to knock England—it’s a really cool place). The only other kind of outing that garnered the same enthusiasm I had for walking trails was probably eating desserts, which I found to be a happy balancing act.

My friends usually love leisurely hikes, so when Christy and I mentioned Golden Ears Park in a discussion, there was an immediate spark in our voices and eyes. We nodded to each other—we had to make this trip happen.

We talked it up to our friends. We’d never actually been, but that didn’t matter much. All that mattered was getting there, walking through the forest, sitting by the water. So when we finally found the time, we rounded up whoever was in town and got them to Christy’s house at 9am.

Alison, Julia, and I piled into Christy’s car. A few of us had collaborated on a playlist, picking bubbly and adventure-themed pop songs to encourage our upbeat mood. There’s nothing like finding music that embodies everything you’re feeling, everything you want to feel. One song in particular became our theme song for the entire trip, but more on that later.

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Fact: the three of us opted for Christy’s car because we knew Vivian would only play K-Pop in hers.

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Vivian driving Alison’s car. She was so obsessed with the cream coloured mini cooper that she give it a 3-hour wash and Hello Kitty accessories.

We stopped off at the lake first. The sun was bright and the water flashed us a thousand winks, inviting us closer (what a flirt, eh). Around us, families were set up sparsely around the grounds, children eating watermelon, moms and dads pumping air into inflatable kiddie boats.

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My friends are the cutest, right?

We packed ourselves back in the cars and drove further into the park. In the parking lot, we took a look at the map, picked the Lower Falls trail, and got our butts moving.

The seven of us had barely made a mark on the trail before we came to a stop. Everyone was too eager to look at the view from the stream, which ran past us, hidden behind bushes and trees on our left. More importantly, many of us are rock hopping-happy people. We basically jump at the chance to sit on rocks, if that makes sense.

… I swear it’s more exciting than it sounds.

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See?

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Directing Kimberly where to step. At this point, we had no choice but to dip our legs into the water to cross to the next rock (on which I’m sitting).

It was as we crossed that stream, back and forth, hopping on rocks, that we took in the view of the mountains and the trees and the water sweeping past us. Someone started humming On Top of the World by Imagine Dragons, breaking the buzz now and then with a happy, “I’m on top of the world, ‘EY! I’m on top of the world, ‘EY! Dadada da dada da…” Despite a limited grasp of the lyrics, the song became the theme song of our trip, and every now and then, whenever there was a pause or a peaceful silence, Christy, Kimberly or I would inevitably break it with a little whistle and, “I’m on top of the world, ‘ey! I’m on top of the world, ‘ey! Been this way for a while now, payin’ my dues to the dirt…” (Care to listen while you read? Here’s an audio link!)

We reached the lower falls quicker than we expected.

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After a bit of looking about, Alison hinted at wanting to cross the water to get to the top of the falls. This, rather than take the actual trail—of course a couple of us said yes! An unorthodox sense of adventure is always more fun, kids. (Unless it involves a curiously high possibility of dying. It still might be fun, but staying alive is unquestionably the better way to go.) So three of us slid down onto the rocks below, not pictured in the photo above, looking for the safest and most interesting routes to cross.

This turned out to be difficult. The currents were stronger, and the rocks spaced far apart. I chucked my bag across one giant rock to another, but in the end decided that I couldn’t cross without plunging deep into the water.

The thing about water is that it’s deceptively difficult to gauge it’s depth, and I could tell that this area—closest to the falls—was at least six feet deep. The currents were stronger, too, so we headed further down in search of shallower water.

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Being goofy.

The whole ordeal of crossing over took much longer than the regular trail, but it was definitely more fun. When we looked up to the top of the falls, finally on the other side but still far below our destination, we saw our four friends waving like little Lego people from way up.

Alison, Christy and I were incredibly proud of ourselves for getting so far. Now all that was left was crossing over to a closer area, walking across another ledge, and lifting ourselves up.

Now, before embarking on our little side quest, we had noted how several parts of the journey looked rather difficult. Would we be able to get across without having to swim? Would we be tall enough for that ledge? The answers to these questions were no, but we went anyway. And I really love that. If anyone asks why I love my friends, this will now be one of the answers I give.

I didn’t have a swimsuit underneath my clothes like Alison and Christy, so at one point, after a bit of teamwork that involved channeling our bags over a stretch of water to dry land, I had to suck it up and plunge hip-deep into the icy water. It was a very awkward next little while, as I indiscreetly tried to wring out my jean shorts without actually taking them off (I’m not even going to talk about what my underwear felt like).

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We crossed over from the left. The water looks shallow from here–definitely wasn’t.

After I finished cursing and Alison finished laughing, we moved across to the next portion: getting around some stone and up to higher ground.

This, too, required a bit more teamwork, since we still couldn’t risk getting all the stuff in our backpacks wet.

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Christy making her away around to the other side.

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And now, preparing to pull up the backpacks so they stay dry.

When we finally made it around, we went up a ways to the next, and last, part of our journey.

Unfortunately, it was the one we couldn’t complete. Oh, no, we’d never turn around and go back. But we couldn’t make it up the ledge, which jutted out unforgivingly, offering no good foot holdings. The top, our destination, towered several feet above our heads mockingly. What a bitch a giant rock can be.

You can see how close we were:

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I’d make a pun about falling short of our goal but I hate puns.

We climbed up and around the hill, close to where I’m standing in the photo, and hopped down another ledge, further to Kimberly’s right. There we joined everyone else at the pool above the falls.

Oh, to be at the top! But getting there was the most fun, for sure. I don’t really know how to properly articulate the kind of fun it was–like being in a video game on team mode, minus the talking mushrooms and fireball-spitting monsters. Just imagine jumping from one huge rock to the next–you can’t believe you’re going to make it–and BOP! you’re knocked over by a flying turtle shell.

Let’s all be grateful that didn’t happen.

I know there’s probably a metaphor inside this adventure within an adventure; about how the best parts of our lives are the ones where we’re planning, when we’re working out the direction we want to go, when our destination is in clear sight and we’re looking at each other, mapping out possible pathways; about how accomplishing something by yourself is a great feeling, but sometimes it’s so, so much better when you accomplish it with friends. I don’t think I’m explaining myself as well as I would like to, but just know that it’s also not what you’re trying to accomplish, but who you’re trying to accomplish it with. Adventuring with my friends, even small adventures like this–I can’t not smile. It’s impossible!

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Made it!

At the waterfall, we ate lunch and those with swimsuits swum. The rest of us sat around and read in peace.

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Christy and Julia.

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Elvina reading the Hobbit. I read Nat Geo’s Traveler magazine.

Kimberly and I went on another mini adventure, but that post will definitely be left for another time.

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Back from our side quest, with souvenirs. Souvenirs as in, soft and decaying sticks. … There wasn’t much else to bring back, okay?

Later that day, we packed up and headed home. The trip back to the parking lot was much quicker than the way to the falls, and there were three reasons why: 1) people had tired of taking photos, 2) the stops we made on the way there had already been visited, and 3) there were horse flies hunting us.

Reason three was the reason I moved so quickly, anyway. I may have made a scene–or ten–shrieking and running from those fucking monsters. They’re horrific. Traumatizing.  What kind of fly tries to bite off chunks of your flesh?

And the whole ordeal was only made more terrifying when I realized that no matter how fast I ran, they’d keep pace with me.

But! Aside from that, the day as a whole was perfect. And I mean that with all my heart. We couldn’t have asked for better weather, and I certainly couldn’t have asked for better people to spend the day with. I’m so lucky I’ve made the friends I have, and that we’ve been friends for so long. Next time, I hope the rest of our group can join us.

These kinds of experiences may not be monumental in a globe-trotting way; they’re little adventures. And the littlest adventures, I’ve come to understand, can be the ones that make you think, while you’re sitting on a rock in the middle of a stream soaking up the sun, surrounded by the laughter of your friends, that life is the best thing that can happen to a person.

— Miriam

P.S. The photos were taken by Julia, Christy, Vivian, and myself. Julia has a really cool flickr site if you want to check out some of her work (and travels!)–just click here.

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One response to “What Makes You Feel On Top of the World

  1. Pingback: Side Quest at Golden Ears: Queens of the Castle | milkandthoughtbubbles·

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