Nearby Burnaby Mountain is home to Simon Fraser University, "Playground of the Gods", and a network of awesome multi-purpose trails. Multi-purpose means that both hiking and biking are permitted, which can lead to some close calls. But I'm getting ahead of myself. It seems that Burnaby Mountain is also home to an animal that is often disparaged as being "disgusting" or "gross". I'm talking about the humble slug. In Manitoba, slugs are typically the size of a peanut - at least the slugs that I've seen. But here. Oh my. They're gi-normous! I mean check these suckers out!
They're not only huge, they're also plentiful. On one section of the trail we did the other day we must have spotted at least 5o of them. For some reason, seeing one on its own didn't really bother Karla too much, but seeing a group of three slimy slugs would freak her out.
Here we are at the start of the trail.
Everyone's happy right? I mean we're hiking a relatively easy trail (actually, it was rated intermediate) spotting slugs here and there. Life is good.
We're seeing cool mushrooms (or "shroomies" as Ellie calls them) . . .
Then I decided we should try a trail we had never done before - still an intermediate trail, but one that would take us up the mountain a bit higher. I didn't realize exactly how much higher it would end up taking us. Nor, subsequently, how much longer it would take us to close the loop. It was starting to get dark and I guessimated we still had at least 20 minutes left to go. I also knew that we had to take a small section of trail that was rated "advanced". Now, I had never been on an advanced trail before, so I didn't know what that would mean exactly. But I knew enough to know that taking an advanced trail was best done with plenty of light, particularly if you're hiking newbies and three of them are kids (the youngest of which is just starting kindergarten). The good thing (at least I thought it was a good thing) was that I knew the section had to be downhill. I mean, how hard can going downhill be, right? Well, it can be dang hard when it's this dark:
Of course it's not that dark out in the open, but with all the tall trees (stupid trees!), there wasn't much light at ground level on the trail. The girls were slipping on the loose rocks like crazy. Sasha seemed to be having fun despite the difficult terrain and lack of light, but Hannah was having a pretty hard time, mostly because she has a sore ankle. Hannah also wasn't wearing her glasses - she kept saying "it's dark for you guys, but it's dark AND blurry for me". Sasha's fun turned into shear terror when we suddenly heard a mountain biker come barrelling down the trail we were on. The trail was so steep that I knew he would have a lot of trouble slowing down, never mind stopping. So I yelled "look out" really loud so he would hear me and hopefully be able to stop before crashing into Karla who was bringing up the rear. He managed to stop just in time, but appeared to do some damage to his wrist in the process of careening off the edge of the trail to avoid a collision. I'm sure Sasha was scared more by my yelling than anything else, but hearing the terror in her voice ("Dad-DEEEE!!!!") was not a nice feeling. Needless to say, we'll be sticking to intermediate and easy trails from now on, especially if there's any chance it's going to be getting dark when we're out there.
This last picture was taken in a clearing just after emerging from the advanced trail.