Before I was bitten by the travel bug, before I started looking to the outdoors as therapy, before I ran or hiked or even enjoyed walking, before I quit smoking and before I cared about treating myself well, I was a college student. I was a student in Wisconsin, where winter lasted far too long and spring break was best spent away from campus.
Many friends would party in Key West or Puerto Rico over the week off in spring. My friends and I? We drove to Winnipeg, Manitoba, where the U.S. dollar was strong, shopping was cheap and tax-free, we were of legal drinking age, and we didn't need a passport to cross the border.
I hardly remember those trips.
People told me that I'd meet my best friends in college, but I've met the best friends while traveling as an adult. And that was once again proven true -- my college memories of Canada have faded and I made new ones with travel buddies over the long 4th of July weekend.
I met Kate and Sabrina in Buenos Aires in early 2016. We were all solo marathoners bound for Antarctica, and were the three youngest people on the ship.
Kate, me, and Sabrina in Antarctica, 2016
Kate and I live near one another and see each other fairly regularly, but Sabrina lives in another state and I haven't had the fortune to meet up with her since Antarctica. So when a long weekend reunion popped into our heads, traveling out of the country during America's Independence Day seemed like a perfectly appropriate option. We met in Vancouver, rented a car, and made our way to Whistler for a weekend of hiking and Canada's 150th birthday party.
The west coast of Canada had an equally epic winter as the west coast of California. Our plan to hike the High Note Trail, my No. 1 reason for picking Whistler, was quickly thwarted when rangers told us only one route was open: a 2-mile hike through the Ice Walls of Matthews Traverse was the only trail accessible to those on foot.
We carried on up Whistler Mountain, traversed the Ice Walls, reached the highest point we could, then gondola'd over to Blackcomb for the scenery and a gentle ride down.
The hike may not have been what we planned, but the views were just as beautiful.
Matthews Traverse, the only "clear" hike on Whistler Mountain -- it's easy to see why the trails are still closed, eh?
The Black Tusk, as seen from Whistler Peak, British Columbia, Canada
Sabrina and Kate on Whistler Peak, British Columbia, Canada
The view from the Peak 2 Peak Gondola from Whistler to Blackcomb, British Columbia, Canada
After some Canada Day celebrations in the square and plenty of walking around Olympic Village, we packed up and headed to our second hiking destination, where the promise of hiking in July seemed a little more seasonally correct: Squamish.