"It was a pretty rainy day so we nearly cancelled, thinking it might be too slippery; this was my first sign that maybe this wasn’t just a hard walk."
I didn’t really know what to expect when I moved to Vancouver, Canada, the only two things I knew for sure were that it would be exciting and completely different. I left London in 2013 at the age of 20, young and completely sheltered from the “real world” and the responsibilities it thrusts upon you, I’d done all the classic tourist attractions around the UK, and about the most shocking thing I’d experienced at that point was moving to a big city all alone. Little did I know that moving to a different continent would teach me so much more and change who I was for the better.
There are many moments on my travels through the US, Canada and NZ that I can pinpoint as being monumental, awe inspiring and moving. To capture one is a challenge, so I’ve decided to tell you the first thing that pops to mind when I think of a big change due to travelling that I would never have thought possible.
Standing proud on the edge of one of the most famous highways in the world is a mountain that sits at 2,303 ft tall. “That’s a pretty small mountain” you might say, but for a young girl who was barely able to climb two flights of stairs and was teetering on the edge of being overweight, that small mountain in Squamish BC looked like Everest towering over her. The Stawamus Chief was a hike that many locals did often and to my outdoorsy Canadian and Kiwi friends it didn’t pose much of a threat, so I decided to brave the dreaded exercise and early rise to have a fun day out and experience something new.
It was a pretty rainy day so we nearly cancelled, thinking it might be too slippery; this was my first sign that maybe this wasn’t just a hard walk. The Canadian leader of our pack, Claire, decided we’d be fine and we headed out anyway. At first I was feeling pretty happy, trudging along with my friends and admiring the beautiful waterfall flowing through the trees. But as we came to the 20 minute mark I was certainly noticing the stress on my body, I fell way behind my pack, limping like the runt of the litter. As my boyfriend fell behind to help me up the millionth step I felt instant shame, looking around at the faces of my patient pals as they held on for me to catch up I said “go ahead without me, I don’t want to slow you down”.
This pitiful effort went on for some time; I was always at the back heaving my unfit body up and up the endless stairs. Finally we got to a point where it levelled out and my friend yelled down “you’re nearly there, now we just have to get up the peak”, with elation I upped my pace. Then I approached the toughest part, the real climb. Hooked into the rock on one side was a thick chain, and on the other was a sheer drop down into the huge pine trees below. It was so off putting that many other hikers were coming back down saying “no I don’t think I want to try that”. But we’d made it this far and I wasn’t turning away, after much effort and terrifying moments slipping on the wet surfaces I eventually made it to the final hurdle: the 10 meter chain climb up two huge boulders.
At this point I gave up. My weak little arms couldn’t pull my body up the rocks and I was holding everyone else up, so with tears in my eyes I said “that’s it I’m done, please just leave me”. Pathetic! That’s all I could think. I was down there with a sheepdog that also couldn’t make it, in a little nook watching everybody else climb to the beautiful views at the peak. It was literally rock bottom.
Then all of a sudden my pack leader Claire came back for me, it was like something out of an action movie, she reached her arm down to me and said “come on, there’s no way I’m leaving you behind, you’re going to make it.” With the help of a boost from a friendly stranger, who happened to be a high school cheerleader, and the insane belief that Claire had in me I reached up and pulled myself to the top. After that, the short slippery walk up to the view point was nothing; I was filled with adrenaline and excitement. The view was indescribable and higher than I thought I could ever have climbed, we ate M&Ms and looked out onto the Howe Sound.
I am now a fitness lover, I exercise three to four times a week and have gone from keeling over after 15 seconds of running to being able to run for 30 minutes continuously. My fitness journey is still on going, but I would have never found this part of me without that one hike and my new friends to help me along the way. Even now, over two years later, I still get emotional thinking about it and how happy I was to have achieved my unachievable goal. Travelling changes you, it moulds you into a different person and pushes you into experiences that you might never have had before.
Hi, my name is Lindsey, I'm 23 and British and I've lived in London UK, Vancouver CA and Auckland NZ! Travelling was the best thing I ever did, I never want to stop :) I also write my own lifestyle blog: lindseycatherine.com check it out!
Thank you for visiting! Here you will find a collection of travel stories from women around the world. We post new ones each week and every one is as unique and varied as the next. Enjoy!