Why did I never turn right? Hiking in Horseshoe Bay, British Columbia

For year now, when I need an easy, no-fuss hike, I just walk out my door to a trailhead about 10-minutes away. The path immediately gets me into the deep forest above Horseshoe Bay. After 500 m of uphill grunting, there’s an intersection. I’ve always turned left. It’s like I’m on autopilot. Left is to Whyte Lake, a pretty, little lake that makes the perfect one hour, door-to-door outing—a reliable and predictable bit of fresh air and exercise. A few months ago, I bucked the routine and turned right.

I’d heard mentions of trails “on the right” but descriptions were vague, and these trails (thankfully) don’t have signage. It wasn’t hard to convince my hiking buddy Eva to come out and explore. Armed with my Gaia GPS hiking app, we discovered a large network of trails. Since that first right turn back in November, I’ve been piecing together all kinds of wonderful new (to me) loops. I’m like a kid in a candy story. I’ve been dragging out Mike and select friends—rain, snow and shine—to share in my right turn discoveries. The photos below were all taken over the last four months.

The North Shore mountains are thickly forested. As much as I love the forest, it’s always a bonus to find trails with open views. I’m thrilled that portions of my right turn trails, as I now call them, travel along bluffs overlooking Howe Sound and the Burrard Inlet. The views take on completely different looks depending on the weather. I’m already excited about summer picnics.

Another cool thing about the right turn trails is their abundance of Arbutus trees (also know as Madrona). These beautiful trees, found along the south coast of British Columbia are rather picky about their environment. They love the sun and hate wet feet. They are nowhere to be found on my usual Whyte Lake trail. But here, just adjacent, on the south-facing rocky bluffs with good drainage, they are thriving.

Arbutus trees have lovely orange-brown bark that peels away exposing a satiny-smooth trunk. Their distinctive colour and curvatures make them pop among other vegetation.

Away from the sunny bluffs, the trail has the usual Pacific Northwest delights of verdant moss, funghi and ferns.

The Whyte Lake trail has become very busy, especially on weekends. In contrast, I’ve rarely seen people on the right side trails during my numerous excursions over the last months. However, these trails are being used. Despite a few fallen tree obstacles and some areas of overgrowth, foot traffic has made the trails relatively easy to follow…. except when you’re the first one through after a snowfall.

So why did I never turn right in all those years? Partly, it’s just being a creature of habit. But to be fair, my left turn routine was serving me well in my pre-pandemic life. It was an easy, no-thought activity that I could fit in when I wasn’t doing more “exciting” stuff. I wasn’t motivated to explore locally as I frequently, and freely, ventured to places further afield. Plus, travel and travel planning kept things fresh and interesting. But, like for most people, my world has shrunk. Turning right instead of left suddenly became a way of shaking things up. It’s crazy how much joy I found in this simple change of routine and in my discovery of an extensive trail network that has been right under my nose all this time. Had COVID-19 not hit, I may never have turned right.

Have you had one of these aha moments during the pandemic? Are you getting bored? Have you tried to change things up?

Categories: British Columbia, Canada, Hiking | Tags: , , | 67 Comments

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67 thoughts on “Why did I never turn right? Hiking in Horseshoe Bay, British Columbia

  1. Discovering all those right-side trails must have been like hitting the jackpot. What a wonderfully scenic hiking area!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hitting the jackpot is the perfect description of how I felt (still feel) about finding these trails. And, I’m loving that I still rarely meet others.

      Like

  2. Your nice pictures remind us of the years we lived in Canada. We hiked a lot in British Columbia and on the other side in Northern Quebec and Nunavut.
    Thanks for sharing
    The Fab Four of Cley
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wonderful wonderful pictures. You are so lucky to have visited these places!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. AndyG

    Those are some nice little viewpoints you found, especially with all the arbutus trees – they look so good in the snow!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What lovely pictures. No, we’re definitely not bored, we work all the time and the day doesn’t have enough hours for us
    love and greetings from Denmark

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Your area is amazing. I’ve done a little hiking there but not enough. Thanks for sharing

    Liked by 1 person

  7. My ‘turn right’ moment happened last October when I explored my hometown with James. I repeatedly thought, why didn’t I know this? Why hadn’t I met these people much earlier? If there’s one positive thing that comes out of the pandemic is that most of us are forced to look beyond the usual places, to venture deeper and take ‘right turns’ we had otherwise overlooked. I’m glad you decided to look the other way and give it a try, Caroline. Speaking of the vegetation, those Arbutus trees remind me a little bit of guava trees which also expose their trunks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I recall what an eye-opener it was for you to see Semarang in a different way and discover things about your hometown you’d never imagined. It gets me thinking about how much effort I put into planning and researching when I visit foreign cities, and how exciting this is. As the pandemic continues, I’ve started pouring some of that curiosity and excitement into close-to-home exploration, and, as in your case, it has been very rewarding. Given the sad news you just shared about your father, I’m sure you appreciate even more that you were able to spend time in Semarang last year.

      I just googled guava tree, and they do share similarities.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Like you we are discovering so much more close to home. It is one of the positives of the pandemic for us. It appears that you have had some quite extraordinary new turns and trails!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. beautiful nature, so refreshing and clean

    Liked by 1 person

  10. What a great discovery! I love the variety of photos showing how different it can be up there, and the views are fabulous. I think we’re all exploring more close to home these days, though I must say Don and I haven’t really ventured far out of our routine. Maybe this summer we will.
    Alison

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Alison. It’s the variety of what’s up there and the different things I see depending on the weather that really struck me too. It can be tough getting out if the routine, especially in winter. I’m also looking forward to summer and perhaps getting a little further afield.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. As always, gorgeous photos! It’s so wonderful you have access to these place so close to home. I love the arbutus trees as well, they’re my favorite type of tree.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I think habits make us feel safe, but it is wonderful to shake things things up a bit. So here is a big cheers to you turning right, and discovering joy and beauty on your doorstep. You live in a jaw droppingly beautiful place, Caroline. I’m sure you are grateful for that, but like so many of us, we tend to look for excitement further afield, as perhaps in an odd way we consider our immediate surroundings to be mundane. I, for one, remind myself daily to stop and acknowledge the beauty of my immediate surroundings – it keeps me grounded and happy, and stills that longing in my soul to wander far away from home. Your photos provided me with a wonderful mini break, so it feels like I just travelled somewhere really exquisite. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Jolandi! Your comments resonate deeply and I have forwarded them to some of my close friends who live in the neighbourhood. Sometimes we need “outsiders” to remind us about how fortunate we are. It’s easy to fall into the trap of finding our local surroundings mundane, even if they are beautiful. Thank you so much. I love the fact that my photos brought you a mini break to “somewhere really exquisite”.

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      • So true, Caroline. Our ordinary is someone else’s idea of paradise. May you continue to find joy in the beauty of your backyard long after international travel opens up again.

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  13. I can relate to the idea of a set hike (or run or walk or whatever). In my daily life, it’s the easy way to get in the time outside without too much thought. (Of course, my daily jaunts here in Houston are not nearly as gorgeous as yours, and they certainly have no elevation!) Our own right turn could be seen as our part-time move to Colorado these last six months, which has opened up lots of new outdoor options. Funny thing is that even with all the new possibilities, I find myself already turning to old standbys. Last fall, I realized that without really planning it, I was hiking Lookout Mountain every Monday morning (to escape the crowds), and it quickly became a new habit!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lexie, I’m happy for you that you had (have) a lovely change of scenery in Colorado. I’m sure that the outdoor options and being with your granddaughter are very therapeutic. How’s she doing? I know those hills are good for me, but I’m often cursing that everything around here is uphill. I can relate to forming new habits due to crowd avoidance. Like in other places, the strain on our parks and trails has been enormous with everyone looking for something to do that is allowed/open. That’s one of the reasons I was motivated to check out the other direction.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. What a nice surprise. Makes you wonder why you didn’t turn right sooner. It’s always nice to have new trails to explore and views to discover. I’m impressed that you were able to navigate along some of those trails, especially in the winter, as the path doesn’t always look clear.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You guys are among the best at exploring new trails; I’m always impressed. I admit that in the snow, when we were the first through, I has to check with my navigation app a few times. It’s amazing how different things look and how easy it is to get off course. It was fun!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Sorab Mistry

    Hi Caroline and Michael , Have a look at this https://www.facebook.com/groups/IndiaPakistanHeritageClub/permalink/874357349774957/ Warmly, Sorab

    *Sorab Mistry*

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I like your tree pictures, especially with the snow. I found myself in a similar situation as my departure from Canada was approaching, I was trying in my urban walks around my home to find streets I hadn’t passed yet, and I found some!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! Although we get some snow every year, it doesn’t stick around very long. It was a real treat doing these hikes with the snow covering. I think many of us are trying to shake things up, whether it’s new forest trails or unexplored streets. I’m glad you found some new streets on your urban walks. Are you living in France now?

      Liked by 1 person

  17. I can’t believe that this is all within an hour’s walk of your house! You’re so lucky to live where you do, escpecially this past year. I love the Arbutus trees growing on the rocky bluffs. It’s nice to see the same spots in different seasons too. The views of Howe Sound and Eagle Harbour are spectacular. We’ve taken a lot of right turns since we’re pretty new to Golden, it’s been nice to explore new wilderness and develop new habits. Hopefully by the fall we can all expereince new lands in foreign countries, or even provinces. Maggie

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Maggie! As I mentioned to Neil below, it has taken the pandemic for me to fully appreciate what I have around here. I hope I can hang on to that once we’re finished with these restrictions. I can imagine moving to Golden has provided you with lots of newness and stimulation—good timing! I remember the excitement of moving to a new place and being really motivated to explore. It’s a great feeling. I guess that’s why I enjoy travelling so much. We’re not booking any foreign travel yet, but tomorrow I’m up bright and early when select B.C. provincial parks’ reservations open. I think it will be a zoo.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Seek and ye (possibly) shall find! Again, I’m jealous of the great beauty that’s near your home. It’s really something.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Well, it took me long enough to even start seeking. In the past, I’ve definitely taken the beauty of my area for granted. This covid thing has been a big eye opener in many ways.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Pit

    Hi Caroline, I’m looking forward to hiking with you guys again. I miss Vancouver and British Columbia. Cheers Pit

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I guess I did make several “right turns” last year. I visited destinations that I had often overlooked. For example, the northern moutainous regions. I know they are beautiful, but travelling there is inconvenient. So in the pre-covid era, they were usually left out of the list.
    Astonishing photos as usual, Caroline! I’m glad that you turned right 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank Len! Yes, I’ve enjoyed reading about some of your beautiful right turns. It’s interesting to hear that the inconvenience of traveling to the northern mountainous region was less of a barrier during covid—I get it. I’m glad you had the opportunity to visit these places.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. jawatson852

    Great photos, lovely article. Thanks Caroline.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Beautiful views and lovely pics Caroline!

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Gorgeous Caroline! I did find a new trail a couple of months ago. I’ve lived in Colorado nearly 20 years and just now found it. It’s my favorite go to these days!!

    Liked by 1 person

  24. how blessed to have such a place at your doorstep! So incredible. and great metaphor for living!

    Liked by 2 people

  25. Sounds great and there are certainly some very beautiful shots here!!

    Liked by 2 people

  26. Wow, what a wonderful post with amazing photos, especially the featured photo.

    Also, the nature in horseshoe bay seems to be really really nice.

    Thanks for sharing

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you! The feature photo is my favourite too. It was really thrilling to “discover” this view so close to home. I’m lucky to be surrounded by this beautiful nature.

      Like

      • you are very lucky indeed! Also, that you can also go and experience this beautiful nature during this “covid-time”.

        Unfortunately, the last months I am not able to visit the mountains due to “covid-restrictions” here in Greece.

        I hope, soon all restrictions will be lifted so I can visit again the mountains …and to keep you updated with new posts on the Olympus Mountaineering Blog.

        Again, thanks for this nice post.

        Liked by 1 person

        • That’s a shame that you are unable to get into nature. Thankfully, many of our parks were only closed last spring and have re-opened (with new rules). I hope you’ll be able to get back into the mountains soon.

          Like

          • Thank you and I hope so too.

            To tell you the truth, sometimes we “sneak out” and we go “illegally” for some climbing, otherwise we are gonna get nuts locked in our homes.

            Anyway, looking forward to your next posts.

            Liked by 1 person

  27. NICOLE BEISSNER

    Can’t wait to explore your new trails!! Beautiful. I live Arbutus trees too😊Sent from my Galaxy

    Liked by 1 person

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