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mountbenson1We have been planning to hike up Mt Benson roughly since we have been arrived on Van Isle. But we had a lot of excuses: it wasn't the perfect weather, we didn't know the trails and I didn't have hiking boots... It took us 5 months to finally make our plans come true realizing Kat had only a couple of days left in lovely Nanaimo. She was having the last days of her internship at the PTG when we decided to search for somebody taking us up Mt Benson. We were lucky! Since our lovely hosts had some useful relations we ended up getting a very nice guide called Gord. So finally at 9 am on Thursday, February the 25th we (Kat, Bruce's niece Franny and me) were preparing our big hike. It had been snowing since a couple of days and as a result we had mixed feelings about our hiking plans. We almost had the impression we were going on a polar expedition putting on several layers of clothes. So Gord picked us up at the PTG and it turned out we were not even prepared enough. Our equipment consisted of small water bottles and fancy gloves and hats. I guess Gord himself didn't believe we would make it up there... mountbenson2Fortunately, he had thought of everything we needed including hiking poles, REAL gloves and granola bars. So we drove up to the bottom of Mt Benson and started to make our way up to the top - or as far as we could get. It was beautiful weather and the climb was not too difficult so everybody was in a good mood. When we arrived at the first viewpoint we could glaze over white Nanaimo, the Gulf Islands and we even saw the a very blurred version of Vancouver's skyline. Well, I guess, that reinforced our ambition. We continued our way up and halfway met a guy coming down from the top of Benson. He was sliding downwards with his snow-shoes (causing a deterioration of our descent later!). He had enough time for a quick chat though, telling us stories of the shoulder-deep snow at the top. We were quite amazed about that also because Nanaimo is not known as a very snowy city. mountbenson3As we were quite slowly hiking up and everybody started to get a little tired (except for Gord, of course, who also had no problems with carrying all our useless stuff we thought we needed for the hike), we decided halfway up would be enough for the three of us. We arrived at the second viewpoint and enjoyed an even better sight all over Nanaimo's west coast. The snow was knee-deep and we all got wet pants but that couldn't spoil anything. It was already afternoon and everybody was quite hungry. So we decided to start getting back down. It turned out that hiking up a snowy mountain is easier than climbing down. Since all the trails were snowy and frozen we basically got back down on our butts. Back in the nice and warm car we were all looking forward to lunch. We definitely deserved some! Kat and I were very happy that we had made it (halfway) up Mt Benson before she left. Being thankful for all the guiding, Kat spontaneously decided to invite Gord to her farewell party. But the story about that evening is another one.... To sum it all up the views were really worth the effort and I think all of us would do it again. One more memory to treasure!