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Saturday, 10 November 2018

It's Not Just Crazy Rich Asians - the First Generation Crisis

Once I started radically doing things differently in my life, eliminating old patterns and biases, I started connecting with friends in a different way. One way I connected with them was about our pasts and how we got to be the way we are. In other words, what past events shaped us today, triggered current behaviours and reactions.

One deeply inherent bias I learned I had, which was particularly hard to get over, was the bias that Asians just care about education, money and status.

Growing up in a town about an hour north of Toronto, I was removed enough from the diversity of Toronto to where I was one of only maybe four Canadian born Chinese (CBC) people in high school. To me, it seemed all my Caucasian peers' parents seemed cool while mine weren't.

Theirs would say "I love you" and be positive and encouraging. Theirs allowed them to live their lives. Mine drilled me like a sargeant on getting perfect grades so I can go to university and make a lot of money afterward. And they didn't let me go out because the outside world was "dangerous."
My family and I enjoying a little down time

I was moulded to be in a suit, but I renounced it for more colourful attire.

When I began connecting with friends on these deeper matters and sharing my own past, I was surprised how many of my CBC peers had similar upbringings as mine, and turned out similarly to me. They also had strict unemotional parents, enforcing a culture valuing education and work, who sheltered them as adolescents, leading to social awkwardness and lack of self esteem. This led me to forming and reinforcing many negative stereotypes about my ethnic peers.

But over time as I became better at seeing through my own biases, I realized that many other friends, not just CBC's, had the same issues. I began noticing another pattern...

It's not just the crazy rich Asians - it happens to all immigrant families, no matter the ethnicity or race.

See, immigrants coming to Canada usually come from poorer and more traumatic situations. You know the classic, "I arrived in America with 20 dollars to my name" story. Already toughened by past experiences, immigrants must continue to claw and grind their way to become established in their new country. Once they do, values such as hard work, education, career, and the riches attained as a result, become ingrained in them. Negative outlooks on life from their past experiences are often retained, instilling traits such as cynicism and fear.

When they have children, referred to as the first generation, they try naturally to infuse them with the same values and traits. Unfortunately, this to a large degree doesn't work, because the values and traits they honed from their origin country are in direct conflict with the country their children grow up in.

The children of immigrants get to move up on Maslow's hierarchy. Not having to worry about food and shelter, they graduate to higher level needs such as belonging and self actualization.
Toronto, a diverse city of immigrants raising their kids with old values

What brought immigrants success and happiness in Canada, hard work and material comfort, won't also work for their children. Their strict parenting style similarly doesn't align with the more lenient style of Canadian parenting - the tensions arisen from this produce a first generation of Canadians, like myself, confused and traumatized.

Now I have to admit, this first generation crisis is probably still a bit more extreme with Chinese Canadian families.

Here's one grand observation, hope you can see the link: the Chinese civilization has had one of the steadiest empires in the past millenia. The dynasties of the past, up to the current communist government, have learned to wield excessive power over its people, creating a culture of submission, collectivism and hard work. That to me is why Chinese people, young and old, tend to be quiet, overly polite and socially awkward.

The crazy rich Asian phenomenon is also exacerbated by the fact that fortune plays an emphasized role in Chinese culture. And China has in recent decades become stinking rich and many of their rich citizens move to cities like Vancouver or Toronto. Toronto alone is home to over 1 million ethnic Chinese!

Many rich Asians just stay in China and send their spoiled kids to these cities for university, giving them Lamborghinis to drive! I once had a conversation with someone who worked at a luxury car wash in Toronto - the vast majority of clients at this car wash were Asian boys. These rich kids form the extreme end of the stereotype of the crazy rich Asians!
I may be a crazy, but I'm not rich.

Okay, I'm getting carried away a bit... the point is that the first generation crisis exists across many different cultures within Canada. It's not just the crazy rich Asians! But it sort of is, too...

I hope I don't sound bitter about my upbringing - in the end, I'm definitely happy to be born Canadian. And while I struggled with cultural tension growing up, I eventually escaped in a big way and have largely come to acceptance about my past and my culture.

The sooner that my first generation peers, whether it is in Canada or any other developed nation, become aware of this, the sooner we can resolve these cultural tensions, figure out what balance of values we want to live by, and forgive our parents and accept them for their differences.

Sunday, 4 November 2018

The Art of Road Tripping in Western Canada

British Columbia is one of those special places on earth full of unrivaled and expansive wilderness, and wholesome people. Alberta boasts some of the most spectacular mountains and sky blue lakes that capture the soul.

Without the west, Canada would be a lot more one dimensional.

My favourite lake, no matter how touristy it gets - Moraine Lake, AB
My second favourite lake - Garibaldi Lake, BC
An epic 4-day cycling trip through the Canadian Rockies! 2015
British Columbia is a magnet for all kinds of people from all kinds of places. I've met hoards of Czech people working in the cherry orchards, and a unique crew of Irish people who go wild picking every summer for morels and huckleberries.

Urbanites flock to Vancouver, a cosmopolitan city nestled between mountains and ocean. From sunset drum circles to nude beaches, Vancouver is anything to anyone who dares to dream (and dares to pay the sky high rent).

BC lovers don't just come from around the world, but also within Canada. Every summer there is a mass exodus of young people leaving Quebec, headed for the orchards of the arid Okanagan Valley. And I've met lots of Ontarians, like me, fleeing urban centric and industrious Ontario for the yogi vibes of the west coast. Ironically, I haven't met a single person going the other way - unless they're returning home.

Vancouver at its best, 2014
BC has so much to offer, there are infinite ways to enjoy it. My favourite thing about BC is its vast wilderness. While not quite on the same epic level as Alaska, BC's wilderness is accessible to those who seek it, within proximity of urban centres.

I've done lots of wild camping (aka. stealth camping or free camping, anywhere without paying), backcountry trekking, and mushroom picking in crown land forests and national parks. I discovered a hidden backcountry cabin only a few hours out of Vancouver. I wild camped on a beach, sleeping to the songs (and wails) of seals.

The music festival scene here is strong. I've been to a few large and other worldly ones like Shambhala, but the small and intimate ones are my favourites. One music festival I went to actually took place beside a lake called Hippie Lake.
A secret beach with hippies living free - Vancouver Island, near Tofino, 2016
Building quinzees, pyramid shaped snow shelters, 2011
Admiring the pristine coastal wilderness from the comforts of a sailboat, west coast 2018

I've shared the most penultimate and transformative experiences of my life with amazing people in the BC forests and mountains. I know there is no such thing as a best place in the world - it's all how one experiences a place that matters. And to me, there is no better place on earth than BC.

And the best way to experience it is as a nomad, free from commitments and responsibilities, free from time constraints, free to roam and love, open to spontaneity, open to discovery without and within.

I've mostly road tripped solo, which has forced and taught me to get out of my shell. I think doing these road trips on my own has been invaluable because if I hadn't done it alone, I wouldn't have been as flexible and spontaneous to new experiences and human connections, nor have had the time for nature and solitude, and just to be with my own thoughts.

From a practical standpoint I also try to fill my car with rideshares to split the gas, or pick up hitchhikers to share the ride. I've met a lot of cool people this way. Facebook groups, Craigslist, and Poparide, an up and coming rideshare website, helps to find rideshares. And just for fun, I've hitchhiked several times as well.

Mountains make me happy :D
I have now made the round trip between Toronto and Calgary three times. That's right - six drives of 3,500 km! And Calgary is often just an extended stopover to Vancouver, adding another 1,000 km to the journey.

You might wonder why I have done this trip so many times. Well, for one, I'm trying not to fly anymore in my life. But the main reason is that the road trip has become part of my western Canada experience - it's not a proper summer road trip without this ritual.

I have embraced the long drive - it has become a meditation to me. The time in between places and obligations, the landscapes zooming by, provides time and space within my mind. I rarely feel as calm in my life as I do during these drives, or even on long bus rides.
Two straight days of straight highways, flat Prairies and wide open skies
Leaving westward the drive helps me to wipe my mental slate clean and build up the anticipation and excitement. The sheer distance makes the west coast seem as if it is some far off utopia, even though it's the same country. Returning east, the drive allows time to process the summer adventures and transition toward winter hibernation in Toronto.

There are also nice stops along the way - I have good friends in Thunder Bay, Winnipeg and Regina. And there's my favourite museum of all time - The Museum of Human Rights in Winnipeg.

I honestly can't imagine the west coast summer road trip without kicking it off with the long drive. I typically don't like to rush it - driving out west this year, I took seven days to get to Calgary, driving an average of 8 hours a day, staying an extra night in both Thunder Bay and Winnipeg. Unfortunately, at the end of this road trip I rushed back to Toronto due to personal reasons and cold weather in October - I took four days, driving about 15 hours on the final day!

My Yaris sits at 150k after 10 years. More than half of that is from road trips - Utah salt flats, 2013
Found a nice wild camping spot - Ontario, 2018

While I would recommend doing the west coast road trip with a vehicle, particularly one you can sleep in, I've done it every time in my tiny Yaris, which I owned since prior to my road tripping days. Fortunately for me I have plenty of friends to call up, and couches to sleep on most of the way.

Perhaps in the future I will have an SUV where I can customize a bed with drawers underneath, as I've seen many friends do. Or a school bus that runs on vegetable oil, as a few friends of mine do! But for now, my Yaris, now with a roofbox, has been a steadfast companion.

And for those tight on transportation budget, I know plenty of travelers who travel light and hitchhike! BC and Alberta are very safe places to hitchhike. The exception to this may be the north of BC, where there is the Highway of Tears, so named tragically due to the high rate of native women that get abducted while hitchhiking.

I also know people who have hitchhiked out west from Ontario and BC in as little as 5 days, which is almost as fast as driving!

No matter whether you drive or hitchhike, if you have all the time in the world and an open heart, you will make your dreams come true in British Columbia. And even if you have no money, you can make some if you are willing to work in the orchards, and still have a great time and unique experience doing it.

The western Canadian summer road trip is pure magic!

Niko playing with the campfire, 2016
Bow Lake, Jasper National Park, Alberta Rockies 2011

Lake O'Hara, Yoho National Park, Alberta Rockies 2012

Monday, 22 October 2018

Sequels Can Be Better - Another Magical Summer BC Road Trip

The spectrum of human experience is vast and daunting. 7 plus billion people playing out their lives, all in different and unique ways that you can't imagine. Now expand that spectrum of experiences across the spectrum of time, encompassing past and future generations - the possibilities seem mind boggling.

Aren't you curious about different human experiences, awesome and not so awesome? Past and present? I know I am!

What's it like to be a sailor? A mountaineer? An artist? What's it like to hitchhike around the world, to be famous?
I've wanted to learn to sail for years. This summer I made it happen - anything is possible

I never feel as alive as I do in the beautiful mountains
Duality - I love to dress colourfully, and I love dark music. Photo credit: @exploreofcourse
I guess we've got pictures (and blogs) for that, right? To find out what it's like to sail the seas, to hike to the top of the world, to spend your life creating art. Pictures create a window into different human experiences.

But there's a reason why pictures don't tell the full story. No picture or video will ever be as visceral as actually being there, as experiencing it for oneself. If it could, then people would never get off their couches. Life would be too easy - reality too easy to mimic on a screen.

To experience life as it's meant to be experienced, you have to get out there!

Two summers ago in 2016, I did just that. I lived free, road tripping around beautiful British Columbia, which though is the same country, feels a world away from Ontario. I spent lots of time in nature, connecting with amazing people, and exploring the undefined and boundless realm of consciousness with the aid of spiritual medicine, or psychedelics (or drugs as those who have never tried them prefer to perceive them).

It was such a memorable summer I knew I had to do the road trip again. And this summer would be the one... I knew I would have another awesome summer, but somehow didn't even think about topping the original summer of 2016.
Pushing a makeshift bicycle rickshaw full of camping and climbing gear up a forest road in a hidden valley

Red Beard, my captain, one of many rare and inspiring personalities I spent time with this summer

Somehow, some way, this summer blew away the first summer road trip!

The adventures were more grand, the human connections deeper, one improbable synchronicity after another serving to build the energy until I was vibrating at a high level.

With an epic crew of adventurers, on the Toba Adventure, we climbed a mountain as only the second group to ever go there, using a sequence of sailing, hitchhiking with loggers, and a near-death gully ascent to get there. A few weeks later, I went into the backcountry with another friend, hiking 30 km on the first day to camp under one of the most towering mountains in the Rockies, the Assiniboine.

And although I went to fewer music festivals this summer than 2016, I danced longer through the night under the sweet forest canopy, feeling interconnected, as one, on the dance floor like never before, with my fellow dancers and the trees swaying above. I reconnected with some lovely people I met from 2016 summer and, through these festivals, I discovered a community of some of the best people in Vancouver.

Festival #1, Blessed Coast, where the magic got rolling

Festival #2, Shambhala - so much magic!
Festival #3, the most inspiring community, THIS Gathering. Photo credit: @exploreofcourse
And isn't that what it's all about? Community. Community creates a sense of meaning, which leads to long lasting happiness... wait. That's what it's all about - happiness!

On many occasions this summer I was feeling so overcome with happiness I would feel tears coming to my eyes. This would happen while listening to Ben Howard's Old Pine while on the road, or sharing my stories with friends, or sometimes the feels would just spontaneously erupt from within.

I was often subject to such rushes of happiness that I felt like the luckiest person alive. It's a strange feeling when one ponders it because, from an objective standpoint, I'm probably not actually the luckiest person in the world. I'm just among a fortunate group of people following and finding their bliss, just doing it in his own different and unique way.

In a similar way, I realized this summer was not necessarily better than the last. It was just a different and unique experience I had as a different person. This summer would not have been possible without last summer, without the self growth, and without building on those human connections.

Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park, BC Rockies

Toba River Valley, Powell River, BC Coast
Speaking of self growth, as this summer progressed, I was becoming aware of a sea change occurring within me. An old line from Chris McCandless in the movie adapted novel Into the Wild kept creeping into my consciousness...

Happiness is only real when shared.
That was this summer's big revelation - last summer I learned how to live out the human experience - this summer I learned how to share it with others. I deepened all those connections from last summer, as well as made many new ones, in intimate settings such as THIS Gathering.

Sharing is caring - a line I heard over and over. I shared a lot of stories with all the different and unique individuals I met - satisfying my curiosity about how humans can and do live. I'll probably never get to hear 7 billion stories in my lifetime, but at least this summer, I lived my own real life experiences and learned to share them with others to broaden my human experience!

As I settle into autumn back in Ontario, the memories and the people from this summer are still fresh in my head, creating the occasional pause to smile. That seamless transition and growth from the original summer into this one, that escalation of human experiences - that's what serves to make summer of 2018 a real sequel.

Moving forward, I hope to keep making more stories and share them with you! Perhaps a three-quel is in order?

Best tent spot I could ever ask for - mountain companions, and besides my crew, no humans for miles
Best swim with a view I could ever ask for - a bit cold though I must admit
Some fun statistics (all approximate!) from my road trip, May 27 - Oct 10
13,000 km driven
5 rideshares taken 6,400 km (1 from Toronto -> Calgary)
10 BC ferries taken
110 km hiked
32 nights camping
14 of those nights at music festivals
8 nights taken spiritual medicine
4 cuddles had
10 days sailing and sleeping in a sailboat
1 night sleeping in my car
13 friends stayed with
$100 paid for accommodation for 2 weeks with friends
15 days jumped in a lake
10 days took a real shower
15 nights dumpster dived
days hitchhiked
1 hitchhiker picked up
14 days wearing this bright electro-hoodie out in public!

Another summer in the books! Keep camping, folks :)

Friday, 7 September 2018

Embracing Uncomfortability

I can't believe it's been more than 4 years since I quit my job and gave up my 9 to 5 life.

I've had many unbelievable life experiences since then. I've also had a lot of difficult experiences, and been through times of adversity and hardship. But looking back, it's been those darkest and most difficult of times that I have grown the most from, that have transformed me into the person I am today.
To climb a mountain you have to get uncomfortable
Salkantay, an equally grinding and rewarding 6 day trek to Machu Picchu - Peru, 2017

Two skills I have developed since walking the path of the wanderer is resilience and toughness.

These are perhaps the two most valuable life skills or qualities I have learned - ones I would never have had a chance to develop if I had not given up the 9 to 5 lifestyle. That's because office life is, in a word, comfortable.

Our modern society idealizes a comfortable life, one of minimal physical hardship, material excess, ultimate convenience and short term gratification. I did, for a time, enjoy this comfortable life. Years ago though I had a growing suspicion that this comfort was a trap that bred contentment and apathy, and was a barrier to achieving real and fulfilling happiness. My instincts also told me that a comfortable life insidiously leads society down a road to chronic stress and chronic disease.

But I didn't know this through experience yet - I only had an instinct about it. So I decided to stop letting comfort stop me from chasing this happiness. I started by quitting my job. And, since then, I put myself in countless uncomfortable experiences, and learned to embrace this feeling.
Exhausted but satisfied at having finished one of the toughest hikes in my life
My legs were pretty beat up from several stumbles and falls - no pain no gain
I applied this lesson at first on a small scale - in order to get to the top of a mountain, I had to engage in the uncomfortable task of walking up a steep, uneven slope with a heavy backpack. At first I got easily frustrated with muscle pains, hunger pains, and environmental conditions.

But I slowly learned to embrace the uncomfortability of it all, and with each hike, I noticed myself embracing the pain, my resilience growing. Over the years I've done a lot more long hikes and treks, and spent lots of time camping in the wilderness. Mosquitoes, for the most part, no longer bother me; fatigue a minor annoyance rather than a serious barrier.

Besides hiking and nature, I've extrapolated this lesson to other areas of my life. I've taken on a number of odd jobs, most requiring physical labour. I've engaged in gardening, warehouse work, delivering food by bicycle, carpentry and cherry picking.

Those first jobs I worked since quitting my job, I remember getting frustrated and fatigued easily, taking many breaks. I remember some of my bosses and homestay hosts getting frustrated with me for carrying out my tasks meekly and clumsily. But over time I learned to stop complaining and power through my tasks. I learned that my body was capable of much more than I thought, and I pushed my body grow into its natural potential. And though it "suffered" and was pushed to its limit, it felt activating and ultimately more fulfilling to push my body in this way.
My first job after quitting my office job? Picking cherries - summer 2014. A humbling experience - I was terrible at it.
Picking morel mushrooms in the Yukon for 1 month during summer 2016

Working as a carpenter, summer 2017 - a physically demanding job, but one that taught me toughness
Finally, through low budget traveling, through hitchhiking, dumpster diving, wild camping and Couchsurfing, I discovered a more fulfilling way to enjoy my travels without the expected comforts.

Since quitting my 9 to 5 job, in many aspects of my life, whether it be going out into nature, work, or travel, I've learned to embrace uncomfortability in order to reap rewarding life experiences and to learn and ultimately become a better person from them.

Embracing uncomfortability goes hand in hand with embracing challenge - and challenging myself is the only way to learn and grow. Embracing uncomfortability has become so ingrained within me that I often find myself avoiding taking shortcuts, preferring the longer, harder way instead. I also become hyper-aware when I get too comfortable, because I notice that I get bored easily and stop learning.

In the end it's all about finding a balance. So while I do beat myself up for spending too much time connected to social media, I make sure to spend more time connecting with nature. While I've rarely showered this summer, I've scrubbed myself down in plenty of lakes and rivers! While I occasionally feast and be merry, I can also tolerate periods of fasting. And while I can tolerate a bit of small talk, I prefer having challenging but open and honest conversations.
Skinny dipping in a cold glacial lake, a practice of overcoming the discomfort to activate the human body
Meditating involves the uncomfortable task of sitting erect and concentrating - with positive results!
I resonate with the Buddhist lesson that suffering is a part of life. When you choose a path of suffering in order to achieve a higher goal, whether that be to climb a mountain or learn a skill such as an instrument, the result is a rewarding outcome which makes the suffering worth it. And when suffering comes when you don't expect it, you can approach that adversity in one of two ways: you can lean into it, overcome it and grow as a person, becoming tougher and more resilient; or you can cower or run away in fear.

I've learned to lean into it and grow tougher and more resilient. I've learned to embrace adversity and tension as an opportunity to grow and become a better person. Because life is not meant to be easy. Since thinking this way I've addressed tension in my relationships, and have come through tough times with a newfound self confidence and peace of mind that no amount of money can buy.

Sometimes I wonder what my life would have been like if I stuck to my office job, and if every step on my life journey was smooth and easy. There's no way of knowing how life will turn out. Some people never encounter significant adversity throughout their lives - that's pretty fortunate. But I know many who have built safe lives for themselves, minimized risk, and yet still encountered unexpected adversity. If I decided to stay in my 9 to 5 bubble, I know I would have crumbled under unexpected adversity.

What's your resilience in the face of unexpected adversity? What's your balance between sinking into comfortability and embracing uncomfortability?

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Summer Doesn't Stop - Assiniboine Calling

Did you read my last blog about The Toba Adventure? If not, go and read it! If you don't want to, then just know that only one week before doing this trek I had already completed my grandest adventure of all mountaineering adventures. My mountain stoke was still dialed up high after the Toba, and carried over nicely into our upcoming trek to the famous Assiniboine region.

My friend Francine was checking the reservations for the campgrounds everyday for nearly one whole month before an availability presented itself to us due to a cancellation. She didn't hesitate to book it first, and inform me later.

Luckily the timing worked out well for me. I had to leave a music festival early, on the Sunday, in order to drive almost 12 hours from Squamish to Calgary, so that I could sign the papers the next day to finalize the sale of my condo. What a relief it was to finally be free of home ownership! I just needed one full and stressful day afterward to move out the rest of the furniture, and that night I drove straight to Canmore so that Francine and I could prep for the trek.
All stoked for my second trek in as many weeks!
Sunshine Meadows, from the top of the chairlift, the starting point of our trek
Early the next morning we were off! We dropped off our food at a helicopter service company, and continued on our way to Banff National Park's Sunshine Village, a ski resort in the winter, day hiking hub in the summer.

From the top of the chairlift we began our hike initially through smooth wildflower covered Sunshine Meadows, then skirting along the side of a steep valley, through a winding rock garden, and finally opening up into the meadow with the Assiniboine Lodge overlooking classic lake and mountain vistas. All in all, we hiked 30 km on day one!

It was a long and strenuous slog all the way to our campground. But Francine showed her toughness, while I called up my recent Toba experience as well as past difficult treks, to push me forward. I find during such long hauls I get into a zone where I'm laser sharp focused, moving as if every single step mattered. And I internalize the pain and suffering in my body, choosing to see it as growing pains - as an opportunity to increase my resilience. It allows such long hauls to feel like walking meditations.

We limped in to our campground as the sun was setting, feeling tired but extremely satisfied at our accomplishment. We made camp, picked up our food which was helicoptered to the lodge, then cooked dinner under headlamp light before passing out.
Wildflowers such as Indian paintbrushes dotted the trails, keeping the hike colourful
Walking along the steep slopes of the valley, smoke wafting over from nearby forest fires obscuring the view
Rock Garden part of the hike was dotted with tiny rugged rock formations
 Assiniboine Lodge - you can get helicoptered in from Canmore and skip the hike!
The view from Assiniboine Lodge - Magog Campground was even closer to the lake
We woke up the next morning to quite a view! Magog Campground sits in a sweet spot - directly overlooking Lake Magog and snuggled under a collection of peaks including the classic Mt. Assiniboine, a pyramid of rock jutting into the sky, heads and shoulder above all the peaks.

Day 2 was our day to explore, and after breakfast and packing, we took off for little Nub Peak. I've never seen the clouds move so fast as they did in this region. Grey painted clouds overtook the sky and opened up early in day two to a barrage of hail.

But the rains stopped as quickly as they came, the clouds parted, and the rest of the day saw a wrestling match between grey clouds and blue sky. This provided my near ideal conditions for hiking - not too hot with a cool breeze, and so I moved forward with anticipation.
Beholding the thick glacier chilling below the sharp peak of Mt. Assiniboine. The rains opened up shortly
My inner goat is satisfied
View from Nub Peak - Mt. Assiniboine dominates the skyline, with 4 adjacent lakes lining the smooth valley

Sunburst Peak has a lot of character
Nub Peak provided sweeping views of one of the Mt. Assiniboine region. I couldn't help but make one of my fun time lapses. Excited and sweaty from the day's hike, I bathed in
Skinny dipping in Lake Magog under the watch of Mt. Assiniboine
The next day we decided to get a head start on heading home, so we would only need 2 shorter days to hike out instead of another long 27 km day. We also decided to hike out a different way than we came in, taking the Marvel Pass route. It was well worth the view from the top of the pass towards the lake.

As if we haven't seen enough natural beauty, as we hit Marvel Lake and started walking parallel to it we encountered a rainbow! That night, I went for another dip in the river by our campground.
Marvel Lake - it's quite a... marvelous sight
The closest I ever came to a rainbow!

The final morning, we had a pretty easy day of hiking along a smooth forest road. We stopped several times to pick wild strawberries. I also picked some yarrow and labrador tea to take home and make tea with.

We eventually reached the end of our trek, at the Mt. Shark trailhead. It didn't take us long to hitchhike a ride back to Canmore, where we drove in my car to get Francine's car at Sunshine Village.

While this trek was nothing like the raw adventure of the Toba, I still got my mountain fix, and felt very grateful to see such a beautiful part of the Canadian Rockies, which I had previously lived near for 6 years of my life without knowing existed.
August is wild strawberry season in the Canadian Rockies
I'll just leave you with one more time lapse of Francine and I packing up camp on the final morning :)