Of course, my whole time out on the West Coast wasn’t spent in Coquitlam’s many thrift stores and watching black and white films about gay cowboys eating pudding. I was expecting a certain degree of tacky tourist things, and L and Chuck were primed to deliver. When they returned home from work on Tuesday afternoon, I was battling a bout of cabin fever, and I was desperate to get out of that house. Don’t get me wrong, L and her family have a nice house, but I was on the west coast! Let’s see some mountains! Let’s see some babbling brooks! With desperation mounting in my voice, L and Chuck began scrambling for some tacky tourist thing that was nice and close that we could do. After an hour or so of mulling it over, L’s mother finally suggested the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge, a nice, secluded suspension bridge over a nice, secluded canyon and not as developed as the more famous Capillano Bridge. I ran up to my room to grab my camera, and soon we were headed for Lynn Canyon.
As we were driving off, the clouds began rolling in and the rain began. The past few days had been clear and sunny, so Chuck and L made some sort of comment about how now I was experiencing real west coast weather. It was a long drive, as we wound through the hilly streets of Coquitlam until reaching the highway. Driving along the west coast was a weird experience. I can’t think of any where along the drive where we were actually “out of the city.” Sure, you were fooled along most of the way as the pines grew high, but occasionally there would be a break in the trees and you could see down to some sort of industrial complex sitting on the water’s edge. It were as though the west coast is the massive war zone between the industrial and the natural, and there are belts where nature wins. Getting to Lynn Canyon meant driving straight through another small town whose name I forget, but that was truly a place where the war raged, and Lynn Canyon was on the other side; the front line.
The rain stopped as we pulled into the parking lot. I wish I could say that the clouds parted and that the skies were brilliantly clear for the rest of our afternoon, but it was not to be. The clouds remained, and there was this threat of rain hanging over the whole proceedings. Not that I minded. I kind of like rain. We jumped out of the van. I was all ready and eager for an adventure. With the doors locked, we started heading for the bridge when we heard Chuck utter those fateful words: “Uh oh.” He had locked the keys in the van. A small panic began to set in. What were we to do? Were we to be stranded here in the woods, eventually turning to cannibalism to survive? Chuck put all our fears at ease. “I do this all the time!” he said. “All I need is a coat hanger.” So, L and I were to venture forth into the canyon alone, while Chuck would go off in search of a coat hanger. When the van was successfully unlocked, he was to catch up with us.
L and I descended the stairs towards the bridge. The suspension bridge was one of those classic, Indiana Jones-style ones, only a little more fortified. Replace the flimsy jungle vines and knots with steel cables and lock bolts. It truly was like something out of an Indiana Jones film. Towering trees surrounded the canyon walls. The walls themselves were made of a stony grey, looking rather foreboding. Down near the bottom of the bridge, you could hear a raging mountain stream slicing its way through the granite. Suddenly, L and I ceased to exist. We were Lara Croft and Indiana Jones, brought together through a fluke of science, and joining forces to beat our evil rivals to a priceless artifact that held the key to saving the world!
And then a group of neon-haired tourists marched by, totally destroying the image. There were four of them. Their leader had blue hair, and she was marching them in unison across the bridge. I’m sure they would also be singing in unison if it weren’t for the presence of L and I. They marched past us, and, as each one marched by, the turned to L and I with big goofy grins on their faces and said, “Hello!” What could L and I do but return the greeting? When they reached the other side of the bridge and disappeared into the trees, L looked into my eyes, and I knew she was thinking the same thing I was: that was odd.
With that bringing me back to reality, L and I continued walking across the bridge. Of course, L took my picture of me on the bridge to send to the folks back home. Sadly, that one didn’t turn out, but I digress. When we reached the other side, we were faced with a decision. We could either take the path to the left, or the path to the right. L had been here before. She was my guide. My fate was completely in her hands. We went left. L said it would take us down to the river. We began walking down the left path.
I was marveled by the trees. The smell of cedar permeated the air. They were just so tall. It didn’t matter that it was a cloudy day as the tree cover soon blocked out all I could see of the sky. It had been a long time since I had seen trees so tall. I was lost in it all. The rocky paths…the overwhelming trees…the distant sound of the river. I had missed my yearly excursion to Jasper, but this was just as good.
Just as I was starting to fear that L was going use my confusion to take advantage of me, we came to the water’s edge. It seemed like your typical mountain stream. The water was so cold and clear as it came flowing down from the mountain. You could see right to the bottom, where rocks had been sitting for years, being slowly worn down by the water flowing over them. You could also see an empty bottle of bottled water wedged between two rocks. The irony was not lost on me. L and I leapt from rock to rock getting out into the middle of the stream. I do enjoy mountain streams. There’s a waterfall around every corner, and every couple of meters there’s a calm spot formed by three or four rocks. And the sound of the rushing water is just so relaxing. It’s one of those moments where you’re truly at peace. L and I continued down the water’s edge for a ways, until we came to this spot by the river where a person had been stacking rocks. The person had made these towers about six feet high of rocks he/she’d found by the river. It was quite a sight to see.
At this point, L and I started getting worried. Chuck hadn’t caught up with us yet. Had his quest for a coat hanger gone unfulfilled? There was a ranger station right there in the parking lot, so it’s not like he had far to look. Maybe he was having trouble finding us. We did have to walk through some pretty heavy bush to get to the water. The decision was made to head back for him. When we arrived in the parking lot, Chuck was no where to be found. The van was still locked, but we could see no keys dangling from the ignition. Obviously, he was successful, and we missed each other on the way back. L and I settled on one of the concrete parking dividers in the parking lot, and began to wait for Chuck. And we waited. And we waited. We made the small talk that friends make. Sadly, we’ve reached the point in our friendship where we’re out of deep, dark revelations to make to each other. So, we were just comfortable. And we waited. Even though it was cloudy, it was getting pretty warm out. We took off our coats and continued waiting. Finally, from down the road, we saw the tall, skinny form of Chuck approaching. Yes, he was successful in getting the keys out, but at the other side of the bridge, he went right instead of left. Since he started telling us so many tales about what was down the left path, we just had to go back.
The spot Chuck was telling us about was a smaller bridge, closer to the canyon floor. We gazed down at the river, forming a small waterfall beneath the bridge. The water was so clear, we could see a variety of coins down below. They were even littered on a small ledge on the canyon wall. Apparently, this is some kind of wishing spot. I had no wish to make at that moment, so I didn’t toss a penny. L mused aloud about how much money was there, and Chuck volunteered to go collect them for his lady. L protested for fear of her knight in shining armor plummeting to his death, so Chuck didn’t do it. Chuck and L aren’t the most romantic couple, but they have their moments.
As we were heading back, we came to something odd in the fence along the canyon wall. It was a gate. On this gate, there was a warning sign, telling us of all the terrible things that would happen should we venture past the fence. We were conflicted. Why would they put this warning sign here if there was a gate? Really, what would happen if we ventured past the fence? I mean, it’s a warning. They’re not telling us we can’t; they’re telling us we shouldn’t. If we proceeded past the fence, it would be at our own risk. Now, I’m normally a pretty straight-laced person, but Chuck and L were getting this desire to go past the fence. And, since this trip was all about adventure, it was very easy for me to cave into the peer pressure. We proceeded past the fence, and down the slippery, moss covered, jagged rock littered slope to the canyon floor.
“Floor” was an overstatement. There was very little space between the water’s edge and the steep granite walls of the canyon. All that there was was a few large rocks for us to sit on. With steep walls on all sides, the roar of the river seemed louder than I had ever heard. The sun was starting to set, and it was getting rather dark down there. The lengthening shadows made it seem even more foreboding. But still, I couldn’t help but be in awe. This was the deepest I had ever been into one of these natural wonders. Even in this deafening prison of natural creation, there were still the moments of peace to be found in pools formed by three or four rocks. It was truly amazing. I looked around and noticed that I couldn’t see Chuck or L. For the briefest moment, I wondered if I had been ditched. I shrugged it off. Let them have their moment. When they emerged from their corner, we were all getting the feeling that it was time to go. After we got back up the slippery slope, we had to climb a countably infinite number of stairs to get back to the parking lot. Never had I been so worn out.
As we piled into the van and began driving away, I couldn’t help but feel that I had gotten what I wished for. I had seen my babbling brook. I had seen my mountains. For the briefest of moments, I even envied L. It would have been heavenly to have grown up in such a beautiful place. There was no more desperation in my voice. The cabin fever had been beaten out of me. I was ready to sit back and be a little more subdued. I was craving an adventure, and I had gotten one. With the roll of film in my camera now half-full, I was ready to kick back and do something a little more subdued. Even Indiana Jones liked to kick back and relax after his exploits. Like all great action heroes when the adventure was over, I couldn’t help but smile and say, “Let’s go home.”