It was finally the day. The day That I would be going on the most beautiful hike in the world. Well in google’s opinion it is.
I throw my sleeping bag in the back of the car and then slam the door shut, excited, and ready for a new adventure to begin. I jump in the driver’s seat and look behind me. The busy city waves me goodbye. Not literally, but you know what I mean. I’ve lived in the city my whole life, working as a librarian at Mr. Oliver’s little corner book shop. Every morning I am greeted with the loud sounds of city busses and taxi honking. My dream is to live in the mountains, and wake up hearing the sound of birds chirping and the wind blowing gently through the bright green leaves of trees right out in my backyard.
About two hours later I stopped at a gas station to fill up my tank and to grab a coke from the store.
“That’ll be three sevety-five sir,” The bored cashier told me after scanning my drink.
“What?” I ask, surprised. Coke is not worth three dollars and seventy-five cents.
“Three seventy-five,” He repeats harshly. The smell of this guy’s black, greasy hair traveled up my nose and trust me, it was not pleasant.
“Are you sure?”
“Sir, I am absolutely sure,” This time I could hear his loud and obnoxious chewing of bubble gum.
“Are you positive?”
“Sir if you aren’t going to buy anything then can you please step aside because there are people waiting in line,”
I look behind me. Two motorcycle dudes and a messy haired woman stood there waiting in line, very impatiently. The woman raises an eyebrow and glares at me.
After paying for my rip-off coke, I head to my car to drive to banff. I pass the most beautiful mountains I’ve ever seen, that tower over me. They make me realize just how small I really am compared to nature.
I blast some music, slide my sunglasses on, and start vibing to it. Once I roll my window down, the wind blows through my thick, dark brown locks of hair. All of my vibing gets interrupted by somebody standing right in front of my car on the road. I almost have a heart attack and my foot pounds on the breaks. It was an old man holding a sign saying “Homeless - Anything helps”. He walks up to the car and knocks on my window.
“Hello sir,” I say to him. He smiles more.
“What do you want?”
“I want what my sign says”
“Your sign doesn't say what you want,”
“No but the sign says that anything will help,”
“So can I have what I asked for please?”
“You didn’t ask for anything” I’m starting to get annoyed.
“But I did,”
“Your sign does not say what you want it just says that anything helps,”
“Okay listen, I have somewhere to be so if you'll please excuse me-”
“I’ll come with you then,”
I raise an eyebrow. “What?”
“I guess I’ll just have to come with you then,”
“Um i’m not sure that that's the best idea,”
Before I can say anything else, he opens the door by the passenger seat and hops in.
“Next time you really should lock your door,” He smiles. My jaw drops. The homeless man puts on his seatbelt and takes a sip from the coke that I spent three dollars and seventy five cents on.
“I’m Randy. Pleasure to meet you sir,”
I don’t speak.
“So, where are we headed?”
Without saying another word to Randy, I drive down the highway and turn the music back on. It drowned out his annoying humming the Mickey mouse theme song.
We arrive at the parking lot and Randy gets out of the car after me. He smiles as he opens the trunk and pulls out my backpack.
“Here ya go,”
He passes it to me. Randy uses the outhouse before we walk to the trail sign. The path is narrow and leads us into a thick green forest with many coniferous trees. After about a half hour of a flat dirt path through the forest, we come across some switchbacks that are really steep and we stop for many twenty second breaks. After an hour of switchbacks, they end and the thick forest isn’t so thick anymore. I check my phone and see that we have reached an elevation of two hundred meters. We walk along a steep, dusty path going up the side of the mountain. The sun hits our backs. We notice that there is a little flat area just a tiny bit up ahead of us so we go there and sit down.
“Randy, why did you wanna come with me?” I ask him as he munches on a granny smith apple. I don’t mind though because I don’t like the granny smith ones anyways. Randy smiles.
“Because you gave me what I asked for,”
“And what was that, may I ask?”
“A conversation,” He looks down at his feet.
“Yes. A conversation,” He looks at me and frowns. “You are the first person to talk to me in weeks,”
I can see the sorrow in his eyes. “You aren't actually homeless, are you?”
He stares at me and takes a second to think about what he will say next.
“No. I’m doing a social experiment,”
“On what?” I ask him.
“Homeless people don’t need to be given money to be happy, and neither do people that have a home even,” He starts. “All people need is a simple: Hello, or good afternoon to have a smile on their face. You made me smile. Most people will walk past a homeless person and ignore them or act like they are some sort of a different species. You talked to me. You were different,”
“But that was an argument. I wasn’t being polite at all,”
“That was never an argument, it simply was part of my social experiment,”
“Oh,” I finished. I reach into my backpack that I set on the ground to grab my sandwich but I almost have a mini heart attack when I feel nothing there. I look up quickly. Randy was looking around too. We both desperately look around for something but then I finally spot it. A nasty little squirrel had snatched my baloney sandwich.
“You nasty little inconsiderate thing!”
I stomp my foot and it squeals but won’t budge. It stands still and clutches onto my baloney sandwich. I chase after it, but its tiny little legs are too fast.
“Get back here Steve!” I yell. Randy looks at me. He wore glasses, a stained white t-shirt and blue pajama pants.
“You named him?” he asked me.
“You picked her gender?”
“It's a she now?”
“Yes, and her name is Steve,”
“Steve is a girl’s name?” Randy asks and raises one eyebrow.
“It can be,” I answer. Randy Smiles but we get rudely interrupted by a bonk on my head. Steve threw a pinecone at my head. She cackles. Even though Steve is a very tiny squirrel, her cackle was very intense, for clarification.
But Steve was gone. All that was left was my half eaten baloney sandwich sitting on the dusty path in front of me. I get up from the picnic table. Randy and I look around for Steve. Randy taps my shoulder quietly and points behind the tree where Steve’s little annoying tail was sticking out from. I tip-toe towards it and pounce. Steve shrieked and ran down a side trail that was overgrown and looked like it obviously hadn’t had many human visitors before me. I follow it for like ten minutes but it ends right in front of a flat side of a large, boring mountain. And when I say boring, I mean boring. There were no glaciers or animals or anything cool like that on it. It was just a plain old boring mountain. It was literally a bland and boring mountain sitting on top of another very bland and boring mountain. I guess Google was very incorrect this time. This was the most boring hike I’ve ever been on. All of the hard work to climb all this way, and my reward is two boring mountains, and an annoying squirrel named Steve. However, something else caught my attention. I could hear the rushing of loud water beyond the very bland and boring mountain. It was almost like a waterfall. But the only problem was that there were no water falls in sight.
I put my ear up to the mountain to hear which way the water rushing sounds are coming from. From what I could tell, the waterfall was coming from the left side of the mountain. Now, I’m not sure if I already told you this, but the boring mountain wasn’t really very big. I could almost see both sides (Left and right) from staring straight at it. I run towards the left side of the mountain, and go around it. My jaw dropped when I saw what was hiding beyond the boring ol’ mountain.
“Hey Randy! Come look at this!” I yell. I immediately hear rustling in the trees and bushes and out pops Randy. His jaw drops as well. We were both staring at a deep canyon rushing with clear blue water. The source of the water was a large waterfall pouring its remains harshly into the canyon. The sides of the canyon were the same reddish rock as the mountain but it was a million times more beautiful. I have concluded that Google indeed was correct and this has been the most beautiful hike I’ve ever been on. And you know how I got here? It was simple.
I wandered beyond the mountain. You should too.