I got a slightly later start than I wanted to, so I knew I would have to hustle to make it to Rainbow Lake, the turnaround point for the 16 km/2700 ft elevation gain trail. I was anticipating a hot, sweaty climb since the weather was in the 30s C in Whistler Valley. However, the temperature dropped almost immediately as I entered the old-growth forest and followed the path that snaked alongside an icy river. Within 15 minutes of hiking, I found the aptly-named Rainbow Falls...it was so unexpectedly and breathtakingly beautiful, that I literally felt the wind knocked out of me. In spite of the time crunch, I took a break to let the roar of the rapids and the spray from the freezing-cold water pound the tension I hadn't even realized I was carrying out of me.
Surprisingly, two hikers on their way back down the trail asked me to take their photo and as I scratched and shot pics, they asked me if I had ever hiked the trail before. They seemed slightly cagey as I said no and asked how far was left to the lake. They let me know that it was probably another hour's hike with a solid mile of that hour through an area where the path was completely covered in snow. They didn't say it in so many words, but I could tell they thought I wasn't going to make it to the lake on my own.
The descent went a bit quicker than the ascent, but the bugs were worse even than on the way up, if that's possible...so the descent may have gone more quickly because I was practically running from the blood-suckers. Well, it was bound to happen...I was going too fast on too-tired legs and my thoughts were elsewhere. So, when it was time to cross the stream/path, I slipped on a rock and flump! Before I knew what had happened, I was flat on my butt and up to my waist in icy, rushing water. Brrrrr! Once I got my bearings and managed to stand up, I realized that everything from the waist down hurt. Bad. Those rocks did not make for a soft landing...luckily though, the icy water kept the swelling from being too terrible.
|Moments before biting the dust...or rocks...|
The remainder of the hike in sopping, cold socks, shoes, pants and undies was substantially less comfortable than it had been just moments before. But, I made it. And I even laughed about it...two days later.
Honestly, though, I saw so much amazing natural beauty and had so much time to think and reflect on where I've been and where I'm going, both literally and figuratively, that I would hike the Rainbow Trail again in a second. I didn't make it to the destination I thought I was shooting for, but the journey wound up being its own reward.
And to the people of Whistler Valley, if your drinking water tastes funny over the next day or two...sorry. That would be me...it was an accident :)