Winter's Gift

The short, damp days of fall and winter drive most Islanders into their slippers and under the covers until next years spring shoots appear. Although I have learned to love playing outdoors, during all of the seasons, I can most definitely relate to the pull of 'hibernation mode' that takes hold this time of year. I used to feel an actual sense of dread when the days began to shrink and the crickets came out to sing. Instead of enjoying the beauty, I would let dark thoughts of another cold, grey winter gather in my heart and my head. What a waste of two beautiful seasons! I have come to realize that seasons are neither good nor bad, but simply 'are'. And when you live in the most beautiful place on earth, it really doesn't matter what mother nature throws at you on any given day. You can find beauty in all of it. Rain on your face. The wind in your hair. Puddles under your boots. A golden maple leaf. A snowflake on your nose. A dark storm rolling in. When we open our hearts and eyes, we see that each season brings it's own unique gifts.

This morning, I was handed (free of charge) one of natures most precious gifts. A magical, Comox Valley sunrise. Morning people will agree, the sunrise is far superior to the sunset. The sunrise is fresh, new, full of promise and endless potential. The sunrise launches a brand new day where anything and everything is possible! I have seen thousands of spectacular sunrises and yet, I know, I will never tire of another. When a ribbon of tangerine sky catches your eye, time stands still and I, for one, will always stop to watch the show.

There is only one way to top a sunrise. Any guesses? The topper is reached by going on a 'sunrise adventure'. Wait, non-morning people, please stay with me here. If you cannot imagine getting to a window in time to catch a sunrise, then it may be hard to envision yourself getting up early enough to actually adventure out into one.

But this is where the story comes together. The shorter days of fall and winter mean that you can still sleep in under those warm covers AND get out to enjoy the sunrise. A sunrise run, ride, hike or paddle in the Valley cannot be beat. There are very few logistics to sort out beforehand. Get a buddy and get a good light. There are, however, endless opportunities to watch the show in our beautiful backyard. Kayak into the Courtenay estuary. Bike to Point Holmes. Climb the stairs at Goose Spit. Stand up paddle to the middle of Comox Lake. Snowshoe up the face of the old Forbidden Ski hill. Or my favourite, ride, run or hike up to the bluffs in the hills high above Cumberland.

This morning, we ran for our sunrise. The Valley was in a cloak of thick, damp fog. We met up in the darkness of Cumberland, whispered our hello's, switched on our lights and made our way into the woods. We didn't know where we were headed, but we knew we wanted a sunrise. And so we ran up. Up the steep and rooty single track. Up the rocky drops. Up to the mossy bluffs, high above. Up, up up we ran until we broke through the fog that had settled on the Valley floor. And there it was, just waiting for us. Up on the bluffs, the grey fog ceiling became a magical pillow floor. The sunrise arrived, pierced through the darkness and painted a dramatic watercolour show across the sky. It grew slowly but steadily and I swear that time really did stand still.

Words cannot explain the feelings of gratitude, peace and wonder that come with a well earned sunrise. Nothing else matters in that moment. Nothing but the trail under your feet, the fire in the sky and the friend at your side. There is something special about earning that show. The only way to explain it, is for you to experience if for yourself.

Get up, get out and go do it. A supernatural sunrise in the Comox Valley is one experience you won't regret setting your alarm a little earlier for. I promise.

Happy Trails,