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?