Thursday, September 1, 2011

My Day with the Baerg Family


Mount Cheam, British Columbia
When I was about 10 years old my dad went on a mountain climbing hike with a bunch of guys from our church. Their goal? To climb to the top of Mount Cheam. I remember him coming home that night absolutely exhausted but full of stories to tell. Later when I saw the photos...all these guys standing at the top of the peak with nothing but glorious blue sky all around them...well I knew that someday I wanted to be there too.

Fast forward to 2011... almost 40 years had past and I still hadn't achieved my goal. And I was getting a little frustrated. Every time we would drive by the mountain on the freeway I would say, "Someday I'm going to get up there." I think Tony stopped listening to me. Then I discovered geocaching and sure enough, before I knew it, there were a bunch of caches hidden along the Cheam trail and two on the peak! Now I really have to get there!

Climbing Cheam (or any mountain for that matter) is not something you do lightly or something you do alone. Unfortunately for me, Tony is not interested in climbing any mountain unless hunting or fishing is involved, so if I was going to get up there, I had to figure out how to do it on my own.

Enter my good friend Carol (in geo-caching world aka Nurse Hatchett). Carol's family, the Baergs, have a family reunion every three years and every six years one of their family reunion traditions is to climb Cheam. They've been climbing the mountain since the 1970s & this year Carol invited me to join them.
I've decided I really like this family.

So on August 27th, one day after my 49th birthday, I became a member of the Baerg family for a day. I was so excited.

The forecast was for perfect weather and it did not disappoint. Not a cloud in the sky. Perfect.
We all met near Bridal Falls and 15 of the Baergs, plus me, packed into some borrowed trucks to make the trip up the Chipmunk Creek FSR to the parking lot at the trailhead. The road up to the trailhead is rough, to say the least. In order to keep the snow melt from turning the road into a river in the Spring, there are cross-ditches dug every 200m or so... makes for a very interesting ride in a big pickup loaded with people. Once we got to the parking lot we noticed that the truck with all the teenagers was no longer behind us. We waited a bit and finally we asked some other hikers who came up shortly after us. Had they seen a truck full of young kids? "Oh yah," he said, "They had major car trouble." Great.

I wondered what we were going to do. Were our plans to climb the mountain all for nothing?
But it soon became apparent that the Baergs are not a family that gets into an uproar too easily. By the time Rick (one of the dads) decided to head back down to rescue the kids most of them had already hitched rides up to the parking lot. Thank goodness for Good Samaritans! So let's hike...we'll worry about the truck later!

The alpine meadows on Mount Cheam are incredible. I lost track of how many different mountain flowers I saw and the geocaches were placed just right so that I could use the excuse that "I am looking for a geo-cache" instead of "I can't breathe anymore & my legs are on fire."

There are 12 caches on the way up to Cheam Peak and we found 8 so I was pretty happy with that. I really wanted to find at least one cache on the peak and was happy to find CHEAM - GC1F94M at the top....wow! is all I can say about this cache location. There's another great view from GC2EJ9G and GC1FCKC really was a great spot to take a break! All the caches we found that day were well done and I highly recommend them all.
View to the north from Cheam Peak


Mary & Elizabeth

 

Carol & Me at the top!
The family trudged on & on, the younger set moving at a quicker pace while the rest of us went just a little slower! At this point I have to tell you about the two oldest members of our hiking crew.... Mary & Elizabeth are Carol's aunts... they've been on almost every Cheam hike since the Baerg family reunion began... and they are now 80 & 82! I was pretty impressed by all the beauty that surrounded me but these two ladies and their determination impressed me the most that day.

 About 2 hours later we stepped onto the ridge at the top of the mountain. I was absolutely speechless which is, if you know me at all, quite something. The view was overwhelming. A 360 degree view of the Fraser Valley. Unbelieveable. I had waited 40 years to get here and it was worth every minute.

And that should be the end of the story shouldn't it? But it turns out that our day of adventures was not over yet. Once we all got back down to the parking lot, piled into the one truck that we had left and started backing out it soon became apparent that there was now something wrong with this truck. The power steering was gone! But once again, the Baerg family did not panic... the truck has just enough maneuvering capabilty to navigate the road and our driver, Rick, has, apparently, pretty strong arms. As we start down the road I hear Rick's wife, Annette, ask him quietly, "How's it going?" And he says (also very quietly), "I don't think I want to tell you.... we have no brakes either."

Are you kidding me?
I thought coming down the trail on Cheam was tough but this was brutal. Hairpin turns, gravel road, cross ditches & major cliffs. It took us almost 2 hours to drive 6 kilometres... the whole trip in first gear. But you know, as we turtled our way down the mountain, with Rick white-knuckling the steering wheel, that family visited and reminisced and laughed....mostly they laughed. And I realized then that they were making another family memory. A great one. One that they'll talk about in 6 years when they climb the mountain once again. They'll laugh and say "Remember the last time we were here and the trucks all broke down? Wonder what adventures will happen to us this time?" And maybe they'll ask me again if I want to come along.

the Baerg Family - at the top! August 2011

Thanks, Baerg family, for the awesome adventure. And thanks for the memory.

I finally did it!