We dropped down a short roped section and walked across the rocky slabbed ridge. Our dad, ahead of us as usual, took a glimpse back at us and removed his pack signalling a lunch break. The conversing was at a minimum, for we were mere men amongst the now ever looming West Lion.
We ate the carefully prepared lunch consisting of three onigiri each (rice packed into the triangluar shape of my mothers cupped hands, with a small very sour cherry type fruit in the centre, and wrapped with a wide ribbon of seaweed along the edge). She must have cooked extra rice after we went to bed. I only think about this now that i'm older. She's missed a few hikes the past couple seasons... finding solice following in the footsteps of my teenaged sister perhaps.
It was a warm hike up but the breeze up top was cool, and wisps of eerie clouds quickly rose up and around trying to find the pass between the humps. Was the rock starting to glisten in the mist? The last bites of onigiri were about to be swallowed down with lemonade from my dads old army canteen when he asked the question, "dou suru?" ("what will you do?"). I looked up at him, up to the quiet Lion, over to my brother, and down to my feet. Pushing a finger through the edge of the patch sewn on to my pants, I looked up sideways at the Lion and answered with a question, "dokokara noboruno?" ("where's do you climb from?" or better translated as "where's the route?", something i've learned to ask him often as he's been almost everywhere locally). He explained and pointed to what I wouldn't exactly call a trail along the side and up. I knew he had summited this before and I later learned that it was back in 1975.
I then chimed in with a thoughtful, "Choto kowai" ("I'm a bit scared"). There was no comment from either of them so I added, "Choto tsukareteru" ("i'm a bit tired"). (The "choto" part is important in saving at least some of my dignity). My big brother finally confirmed, "mmm tsukaretru" as he returned the plastic cup into my fathers old rucksack. I was relieved to hear my brothers agreement, he's usually eager to do the more dangerous stuff. "Two votes to one!", I thought to myself.
"Ja, mou kaeruka?", ("So, I guess we go home already?" Actually, more of a statement rather than a question.) My brother and I agreed but both quickly told him we'll come up next year when we're bigger. We didn't want to disappoint our father any further. My brother looked at me and we confirmed with each other that we'll make it to the top someday.
That was August 21, 1982
With careers and different ventures keeping us busy over the years , talking about doing the Lions was becoming cliche with my brother. So when I heard the answer to my yearly question, "I'm free on the long weekend.", I said, "Really?".
Early rise, get a prime parking spot, beat the heat, and peak the heap. With the day so meticulously planned out, we began our quest to once again greet the West Lion face to face. We were bigger this time around.
I knew things would go well when the primo parking spot was left open for us. With the packs strapped on, we headed up the still familiar logging road. The rest of the uphill hike was through quickly changing scenery which kept our minds off the relentless climb. When I hike with my brother I tend to endlessly babble trying to see which funny story makes him laugh more. I'd be terrible at standup as I start laughing before i'm done. He'll then whip back with his endless supply of movie quotes, or in some cases, entire scenes. Keeps the mind off the tiring feet.
A few groups passed us along the way, some were going down already. On the last ridge before the summit stretch one young woman said we were "brave" when we confirmed that we're going up and without climbing gear. Once we were face to face with the Lion, we wisely checked our inflated egos before dropping down the knotted rope.
We found the start of the traverse with help from another fellow hiker pointing the way from her vantage point. Winding our way across the side of the face we found one exposed gap to cross and then the rest was straight up. One area had well worn tree trunks that curved perfectly as hand holds.
Obligatory pictures at the summit, and the customary arguing over the names of surrounding peaks and waters. "That's not the Burrard Inlet, that's gotta be the Fraser... the North shore isn't that flat!", he told me incorrectly. I didn't say it then but i'll say it now, "I told you so!". hehe
We talked about our craving for moms onigiri. The taste is ingrained in our heads as something to eat in the beautiful outdoors. The bachelor kitchen foods we packed just can't compare. Even the ground squirrel didn't poke around for long.
Coming down from the peak was quick and relatively easy.... the rest of the trip to the car is another thing. Down, down, down, each section streched twice as long since our ascent in the morning.
At some point, we lost the main trail and continued on an unused and unmarked trail. We checked the topo and knew we weren't too far offs. My only dismay was not being able to pick up someones large Sports drink bottle that I intended to fetch on the way down but I did end up finding other items to make up for it. We reached a secluded Harvey creek falls crossing with neat log stairs before joining the main traverse.
Even without the minor diversion, it was one of those rare times when coming down took just as long as going up.
With dusty legs and tired feet we reached the car where we decided Slurpees was going to be the reward. Somewhere along the route home it was upgraded to WhiteSpot, and big brother was buying!
One more childhood pact completed. I think we had another one from back then....something about returning to Berg Lake and making an action movie?
Congratulations and Thanks Big Brother!
July 31, 2004