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I Straddled a Mountain - Buddy Barker

It all happened many years ago, when I was a young and ardent hiker and climber. In those days, we didn't carry maps, trails were not named, there was no Search and Rescue team, and strangely enough, we never got lost. When there were no trails, we bush-whacked. We had never heard of hypothermia and when we were thirsty there was always a stream of cold, crystal clear, mountain water to drink. We hadn't heard of pollution, either.

As a member of the original Hollyburn Pacific Ski Club, during the winter I clomped around on my heavy skis (I paid $10.00 for them) . They were clamped to my hiking boots with no safety release. 

"Everybody's Buddy. Buddy on Hollyburn. The skis cost $10.00", March, 1928 
(Buddy Barker/Win Oliver Collection)

With the coming of summer, our activities changed. Saturday evenings found us trudging up Seymour or Lynn Creek, to roll up in our blankets on a sandy beach. Sleeping bags were an unknown luxury. I vividly remember one evening, by the Seymour River, when we were treated to a breathtaking display of Aurora Borealis, kaleidoscope of vivid colors flashing across a velvety black sky. 

On the July 15th week-end in 1928, my hiking group had planned to climb Crown Mountain, on Vancouver's North Shore. They had started out on Saturday morning, were to overnight on Goat Mountain and climb Crown on Sunday. In those days, I worked all day Saturday, so I was unable to join them. However, after dinner that evening, I received a phone call from my friend Harry Collins. He and three or four friends were catching the ten o'clock North Van ferry and would hike all night in order to meet in the morning, with those camped on Goat. Would I like to join them? Of course I would!

I quickly changed, put some food in my old army pack, a hand-me-down from the First World War, met the boys at the ferry and by 10.30 we were on our way up Lonsdale and on to the Mosquito Creek trail and starting our night-long trudge up Grouse Mountain.

It was an extraordinary night. The brilliant moon seemed as bright as a noon-time sun. The trees, the crags, the gorse, were bathed in its radiance. Our little group was spell-bound. It was an experience never to be forgotten.

At last we reached the Chalet site, traversed the west side of Grouse Peak and found ourselves on the steep trail up Dam Mountain. It was rough! Finally, we reached the top and from there, progressed along a ridge to the round, rocky knoll that is the summit of Goat Mountain. It was five o'clock on Sunday morning. Under the newly-risen sun, we were welcomed by our camping friends. They were just coming alive after an uneasy night of sleeping on hard rock. We joined them for a hasty breakfast.

Across a seemingly bottomless valley, was our view of Crown Mountain and the Camel. A daunting sight! It was no time to get discouraged though, so down we went; down, down and down. 

Crown Mtn. and the Camel from Goat Ridge, July 15, 1928 
(Buddy Barker/Win Oliver Collection)

Then came the scramble up the other side, through heavy timber. I don't remember if I ever thought I might not make the final assault. Finally, we did emerge above the timber-line and scaled the bare rock to sit astride the peak. It was an awesome feeling; as I looked down the eastern side, there was nothing to be seen but trees. In contrast, the other side was a huge expanse of bare rock, extending down for hundreds of feet. Not the place to fall!

Gordie Billingsley had carried a large watermelon all the way up. He kindly shared it with us. Some of the hardier chaps traversed the narrow ledge over to the Camel. Then it was time to start back, down through the trees and up on to Goat. A meal and then over Dam, around Grouse Peak and down all the way to the North Van Ferry. I arrived home about Ten o'clock Sunday evening, fell into bed and was up and at work Monday morning at eight thirty. A very energetic week-end! Whatever has becomeof all that energy?