Six weeks ago my man Ian reached out: "I need some mountain time."
I know the feeling. I know the longing. I know why it matters.
So we looked for a shared gap in our calendars and set a date. Ian hadn't yet summited Mount Albert Edward, so we had our objective too.
It's a great one, one I've been visiting for over twenty years, over and over, for good reason: First, sitting at the heart of Strathcona Provincial park and near the geographic heart of Vancouver Island, on a clear day you can see from Albert's summit the Pacific Ocean to the west, the Strait of Georgia to the east, and the Island's tallest peak, the Golden Hinde, to the northwest. Also, the mountain is easily accessible via the sub-alpine (yes, you get an elevation cheat) Paradise Meadows parking lot adjacent to the Mount Washington ski area and the run is a reasonable magnitude for a Sunday preceding an early Monday morning on the job site: 32km and a little less than 6000' of gain for the return trip.
And then, on the drive up-Island to the trailhead, as the car hydroplaned for the second time through the Biblical rains pouring down, I wondered whether this wasn't our day, shouldn't be our day, great objective or no.
But a single sliver of blue sky to the west enticed us to keep driving.
Starting out under skies heavy with rain but holding back, we crossed our fingers and unwound our legs through the Meadows. Five kilometres in and up onto the Forbidden Plateau, we ran into the park ranger, who asked us if we were planning to summit, whether we knew the route, doing so while letting us know that a party of four had been lost on the ridge in the clouds yesterday. We were, we did, and, yes, expectations managed for what we'd see up there.
And, though summit views eluded us, we did get a great, brief, look at Albert's peak as we gained the long horseshoe approach ridge before the clouds closed back in. Throughout the day, though we couldn't see long distances, those clouds and the moody weather kept us skidding in our tracks to remark at the power and beauty of this place and what it was willing to reveal. Its capacity to unload the weight of our day-to-days, despite the heaviness of the skies around us. Its capacity to create a space between two friends into which they could fill five hours of connection, riffed ideas, shared stories and laughter.
The mountain's capacity, by going outside - regardless how near at hand the fog and clouds surrounding and obscuring it - to create pathways to places inside and between those friends as they ran along its trails.