I'll start with the "New Beginning" part because I'm in a story telling mood for those who care to listen. I promise to try to keep things as short and as interesting as possible.
I've worked on tugboats for the last 13 years and although it is a good paying, union job with good benefits and great time off, I have found myself feeling in somewhat of a "dead end" over the past few years. I won't get into specifics except for that I found myself feeling unfulfilled with many aspects of my work and my head was constantly elsewhere. My dreams and ambitions were seemingly taking a backseat to routine and working, doing something mundane, for a paycheque. Don't get me wrong, working on a tugboat has it's glories, but for the most part it is a dirty, noisy, polluting industry that I personally don't feel the need to be a part of anymore. Here I would be, hiking through a beautiful old growth forest one week, and then watching that same forest being loaded onto a ship as raw logs bound for China the next week! The real irony is that I'm a part of that process by being the guy towing them to the ship. And here I am thinking of ways to cut down on my personal "carbon footprint", and the next week I'm filling up ships with crude bunker to burn and spew into the atmosphere. And then there are the container ships, some of them over a third of a kilometer long! These things come into the harbour and Roberts Bank terminals, sometimes a half dozen a day, all loaded with everything we buy and consume that is "Made in China". And you guessed it, we're the ones that safely and happily help them in to port, day and night. The ships sit, idling their spew into the Fraser Valley for up to 3 days while the containers are lifted off with huge deisel cranes and loaded onto a waiting idling truck, one by one, 24/7/365!!! Then the next week, I'd follow the brown cloud eastward from Vancouver to Hope to my little home nestled in the mountains to enjoy one week of freedom to do as I choose, and to repeat the whole process all over again the following week.
I finally had to ask myself, "What is it that makes a person continually do something they aren't interested in and don't want to do anymore?" Some of the answers that began to come to my mind I found made me feel like a bit of a jackass. Reasons like old habits, and "good money" and "laziness" and on and on...
I'll stop here in saying that... "IT WAS TIME FOR A CHANGE!!!"
So, I took the plunge and recently left my job in order to pursue more meaningful and fulfilling things in life.
Now for the Little Jackass part of things [:I]...
Nancy and I were looking for a nice mellow daytrip somewhere close to home but far away from the building long weekend crowds starting to pour through Hope. Somewhere where we could ease back in to things from an all too busy and transitional early half of this year. Something around Ross Lake seemed like a good idea, but what could we do in a half day around there? We thought about Hozomeen Lake, which we have both visited several times and is a nice destination, but I wanted to get up somewhere with a view. A little map research revealed that one could gain the ridge east of the top end of Ross Lake from the Hozomeen Lake trail, and then traverse the ridge north to the minor summit of Little Jackass Mountain. This is a meager summit at just over 4000 ft, but is a prominent figure when approaching Ross Lake Day Area and I knew it would offer fantastic views of both Ross Lake and the spectacular Hozomeens.
We arrived at the campground accross the border after a long and dusty drive down the Silver Skagit road. They have been doing much road grading work this season but have not yet applied any dust suppression on the gravel. The worst section being between Silvertip and Shawatum Day Use Areas. Smooth, but very dusty. We parked at the Hozomeen Lake Trailhead and were surprised to be the only ones there. Our day was slightly overcast but slowly seeming to improve and the forecast called for a sunnier afternoon. As it was a short and light daytrip I was able to pack along my new, but heavy Canon 40D, my first DSLR. I bought this camera a few months ago for the purpose of doing some other photography work, but had not really used it much in the mountains yet because of it's weight and well, I just still like film better for landscapes.
But needless to say I was still excited to try it out with some potential dramatic outdoor scenery.
We headed out down the trail and enjoyed the sounds of nearby Hozomeen Creek resonating through the old growth forest that we hiked through. Through the treetops to our right, we could see the steep bluffs that make up most of Little Jackass's flanks, with the exception of a few less steep gullies gaining the ridge to the south of the peak. After about an hour, I could see a dip in the forested ridge above that looked as if it may go to the crest without too much bluff negotiating. And so, about a km short of Hozomeen Lake, we dove off the trail into the woods and headed west up the slope.
The forest travel was not too bad as it was mature timber, spaced out with minimal underbrush. After a few minutes things began to steepen fairly quickly and soon we found ourselves using our hands a little more often. Following a mature forest strip, we trudged our way upwards toward the rushing wind off of Ross Lake on the ridgetop. Near the crest of the ridge the forest began to open into mature mixed pine and spruce(both healthy and beetlekill) and grassy, flowery meadows.
Some pics of reaching the ridgecrest, looking over Ross Lake and mountains within the North Cascades National Forest.
We stopped at the ridgetop to take in the views and have a snack while basking in the nice breeze off the lake. There was faint remnance of an old trail meandering along the sparcely forested ridgetop. After our break we made our way back to the north along the rollercoaster ridge toward the summit. It was a wonderful wander through the open forest and colorful meadows and craggy viewpoints. All the while Mount Hozomeen towered overhead and offered up breathtaking views of its western aspects. The new camera seemed to be working good, despite the tricky light from the overcast day.
Some pics of views and such from along the way to the summit.
It was fun to toy with the different camera settings and filters and see the results instantly, a concept that is still relatively new to me. [:I] Best of all, it was the first time in a long while where I felt the true freedom of the mountains stirring my blood again. I was a free man! Free of old habits, free of a false sense of security, free of the routine and ready to walk through whatever doors opened in my path from here on.
Some shots from when we reached the summit. There we spent an hour having lunch, taking pics, basking in the views and lounging.
Our hike back out was just as enjoyable as the way in and with only a few spills down the steep forest back to the trail.
The dust on the road back home had settled and the sunset stop at Silver Lake was none too shabby either. [^]
This was a fantastic and very rewarding day out for us in our new beginning. I wanted to share this story for the encouragement to anyone going through similar thoughts or situations where they are doing something that doesn't fulfill them or satisfy their code of ethics anymore. Just do it!!! Quit whatever it is that eats away at you and take the plunge. The opportunities are endless and they will come your way if you look for them.
Don't let the "Little Jackass" hold you back from doing what you will truely find fulfillment and satisfaction in.
As for me, my ship may have finally sailed when it comes to tugboating. [
Wish me Luck!