Thursday, 30 July 2015

Why "bag" a hike guidebook cover to cover?

Back in 2002 I re-aquainted myself with hiking and in fact started with my friend Judd.  Wanderung has grown to be one of the more active "clubs" in the lower mainland of BC.

That season I was looking for a change (in my life), and got hooked.  Hiking became my source of exercise, escape from work,... and a major boost to my social network.  At that time I only owned 1 guide book: Dawn Hanna's "Best Hikes in Southwestern BC" and it not only became my bible,.. it pretty much became the backbone of Wanderung (most callout destinations could be found within these pages 2002-2005).

As I cherry-picked my way through the book to find new scenic vistas I really started gaining a passion for exploring and seeing areas of my "home" that I had never known existed.  It dawned on me at some point that "I really want to check out ALL of these destinations",.. so that is what I did.  77 in all, I systematically hiked the trails outlined within and discovered that when you "pick" your destinations, your biases may prevent you from a great discovery.  At least 3 times, ones I "dreaded" from reading a description,.. turned out to be mind blowing.  From that point forward I knew that the framework of thoroughly cutting through a book cover to cover adds another layer of hiking satisfaction for me and that repeating destinations leads to less - "I want to go somewhere NEW",

For those familiar with 103 Hikes, you will know that it has a considerably more challenging roster of hikes than the Dawn Hanna books. I knew the series from having seen earlier editions on my parent's book shelf since the 1970s (never used).

I had no intention of hiking the ones in "103", because I had deemed some of them as too difficult. Some were 1800m of gain, or 12 hour hikes if done in 1 day,. or 30km. At some point I cannot remember I must have cracked the 5th edition looking for somewhere to go and thought,.. "I've done over 50% of these,.. why not the rest?".  My obsession never turned back.

103 Hikes 5th edition
I then collected up the versions I had. 1st and 2nd were at my parent's house.  5th I owned, so I went on a chase for 3rd and 4th and had a chance encounter with a local hiking celebrity of sorts that worked in a 2nd hand bookstore and he fished them out.  I now had a set (6th Ed. was not out), and entered them all into a spreadsheet to compare how the rosters had changed over the years..  It was clear,.. I was going to peak bag the 5th edition.

Though some hikes I had done in scouts at 10 years of age, and dozens overlapped with Dawn Hanna, I started to systematically cut through the book, abandoned/overgrown trails and all. Probably spanning a decade due to snow levels and short seasons (plus I probably hiked an additional 100 trails not in the book) I'm now about to tackle the 103rd hike and complete the book.

This blog is where I want to share my thoughts and organize recommendations. Though I know others are out there that have done all of these and more, as far as I know, I'm one of the few that can probably comment on such a wide range of the "top" lower mainland selections (at least from this book, the most common guidebook out there for this region).