A New Year

20190101-20160624-20040507-wayne on lone cone-2

On December 31st,1991 I climbed a local mountain to search for myself……a Spirit Quest.

The mountain is called “Lone Cone”.Its directly north of Tofino across the water on Meares island. I paddled my canoe across with all my gear on December 31st,1991.

My intention was to camp overnight and let off fireworks at midnight. I had one camera with one roll of film. I had even bought size 15 galoshes to go over my hiking boots because I knew the lower section would be wet.I figured I’d simply take them off once I  reached the snow line.What I hadn’t figured on was one foot of snow covering the trail! Nobody had gone up there in months. I couldn’t find the trail anywhere! The trail going up the mountain was completely covered with snow! I couldn’t see the trail anywhere!

I had to quickly figure a way to find the trail or I had a big problem? I remembered  that I was panting heavily and leaning up against a tree. I noticed it had shiny bark. People over the years had touched the sides of the trees. Its rather steep so everyone grabs onto the trees to help pull them up.This repeated touching had polished the bark and made it shiny. I realized all I had to do was walk between these shiny marks! It worked! I was able to stay on the path as long as I stayed between the polished marks.

It normally takes three hours to hike up Lone Cone. However…….because of the snow and my heavy pack,it took me over 4 hours.I also had to carry all my water making the load even heavier. I was also carrying about 10 pounds of fireworks.

I got up to the top right around sunset. I quickly took a few pictures of the setting sun and promptly began to gather as much dry wood as possible for the long cold night ahead. I set up my tent and started a fire. The thing about winter camping is that the sun goes down early  and I knew that staying up to midnight to let off the fireworks was going to be hard…………..which is why I made sure to bring along  a small bottle of rum.

I managed to stay up to midnight and let off all the fireworks.  For years I heard from people who remember seeing the fireworks going off that night.  They wondered who would be that crazy to go up to the top of Lone Cone on New Years Eve……….guilty. I also found out that one woman had gotten so stoned she thought the mountain was blowing up!

I remember crawling into bed exhausted. I swear it took half a hour to warm up! It was about minus 18 C.

I woke up in the morning under sunny skies. I began to make breakfast and noticed that some clouds were moving up through the forest towards me. I turned the stove off and went out front to check things out. I saw the clouds were moving in quickly and about to snuff the light! So I grabbed the camera and took this self portrait.

By the time I finished eating and broke camp those clouds had descended below me.I was back in the sunshine with a sea of cloud  stretching out for miles below me. I was on the only spot high enough to be above the clouds! I was on a island in the sky. At that moment, I knew I had found myself! It was an amazing experience! I shouted out “THANK YOU” and began the long trip down.

Turns out my footprints had frozen solid overnight. So going back down was easier than coming up…..custom stairway!

As far as I know I’m the only person who went up the mountain in one year but came back down the next year!

It was without any doubt my most memorable experience! A true spirit quest!

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72 thoughts on “A New Year

      1. That’s interesting. For a moment there, I thought you were super arty continuing to use rolls of film when everyone else is using convenient digital. A lot of art pollutes (except charcoal on paper, I suppose, which is biodegradable!!)

  1. You are the ultimate naturalist Wayne … now, and nearly 30 years ago. This is an amazing story, and you captured the image not only on film, but in your mind forever. Bravo to you for being such a brave and adventurous soul!

      1. Looks like you were up to the challenge Wayne – reading about the return trip back down the mountain in the icy footsteps … that sounded a bit scary to me. I think you were either savvy about that bark or maybe just born a Boy Scout. :)

      2. Heck ya – you climb all the way up there, you weren’t coming back down – after all, you wanted to go up in one year and come down the mountain the next year.

      3. No, you have to have survival skills for sure. We just had a guy drown – young guy, college student. He got lost after a New Year’s Eve party – they haven’t said whether he got out of his vehicle or was on foot – he called 911 and said he was lost and was by a factory as he saw some smoke – today they found his body. They said in these cold temps, one could not survive for more than an hour. You were prepared though … you had the extra boots, the camping gear, the “antifreeze” to help you fall asleep. I think you made a fire (besides the fireworks). You are a naturalist – even if you got lost up there, you’d find your way around and down again.

      4. They haven’t released any details yet – so likely they had not done a blood alcohol test on him yet, but they didn’t outright say that happened. They just said he got lost. And he wouldn’t have been dressed for the environment either.

      5. Well time will tell and I’ll let you know what I hear, but it’s not near here so likely they won’t follow up on it. I’ll save his name and Google it in a few days – you noticed his name was Parker?

      6. When I go out in my boat that is something that “could” end up killing me but I cannot think about it like that or I’d never do it.I prepare for the worst but hope for the best!

      7. Yes, you’re right – if you worried about such things, it would zap the joy out of your reason for being, your hobby and livelihood – you would not enjoy life as you know it now if you were scared. I wish I was as adventurous as I was when I was younger … I was game for anything. Here’s another quote … “Fortune favors the prepared mind.” – Louis Pasteur My boss has used that quote for years – you can prepare all you want for things, even want them to happen, but you must first be prepared in your mind.

      8. For years, before my boss and I went out on our own, I did a daily quote to everyone in the office – one e-mail went to the whole office. I continued after we left and sent out to about 40 people. Then our computer system at work crashed and I had to abandon it as it was a lot of work to do from Comcast. I used to use graphics especially around the holidays. I really liked doing that and in the beginning, when I started around 1995, our computers were linked, but we had no internet, but we could send messages internally only, so I’d look the quotes up in books – I have a lot of quote books that I used to get them from. My mom drank tea and I’d use the teabag tags.

      9. My mom drank tea and they are just the string with a tag that you did into the water to allow the tea to steep. One of the tea companies used to have tags that had quotes or sayings, sometimes like a fortune cookie. I used to call those quotes “Teabag Teatag Wisdom”

      10. One of the young attorneys loved Churchill so I would do a quote for him a couple of times a month and Mark Twain is one of my favorites … he had a wry sense of humor. I also like Will Rogers.

  2. Loved reading about your spirit quest and absolutely love that photo!! I enjoyed picturing the fireworks and custom stairway and seeing that island in the sky. Thanks for sharing this amazing and special experience!!!

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