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While Hiking Mount Boucherie in West Kelowna, British Columbia…

Sunshine yellow Arrowleaf Balsamroot flowers at the top of Mount Boucherie in West Kelowna, B.C. Okanagan Lake in the background and mountains in the distance.

We are in West Kelowna (West Grizzly Bear), British Columbia. It’s about four hours northeast of Vancouver. Chris and I arrived in early April when female grizzly bears and their cubs leave their dens. Male grizzly bears wake up in mid to late March.  

Chris and I will be here for another 18 days before we head to our home state, Minnesota. West Kelowna has been a gorgeous place to pause, to shift from life in Portugal to life in more familiar territory. We committed to six weeks in an Airbnb here with plans to see if we could make this area home. Then, while still in Portugal, we decided to give Minnesota another chance. It’s been an enjoyable oops on our part.  

I thought my glutes would miss Porto’s hills, but thanks to nearby Mount Boucherie, they’re doing just fine. We’ve hiked the mountain’s 1,029 ft. ascent six times now. My hairstylist told me about Mount Boucherie. She said we didn’t need bear bells or bear spray to go on it. Our bear bells are sitting in Chris’s hiking backpack in a storage unit in Rochester, Minnesota.

Our First Time Hiking Mount Boucherie

Bear Warning Sign at the beginning of Mount Boucherie's Boucherie Rush Trail.
We saw this bear warning sign just before we started our hike on the Boucherie Rush Trail.

On Saturday, April 20th, we made our first trip to Mount Boucherie. In English: Mount Butcher Shop. Approaching a new hike makes us nervous, and map apps often don’t lead us to the quite right place. Chris parked his truck on the street in front of some baseball diamonds. Kids warmed up for games, playing catch, pitching, and swinging bats. Chris rechecked the map and thought we might be able to find better parking. 

He was right. We found the North Lot for Mount Boucherie. Chris parked next to the trailhead, as far away from the ballparks as possible. We spoke a little louder than normal as we started up the Boucherie Rush Trail, unsure about our choice to hike without bear bells. Once we started seeing other people – some with their dogs, we relaxed and smelled the bright-as-the-sun Arrowleaf balsamroot flowers. We paused our walk up the switchbacks now and then to take in the gorgeous view of Okanagan Lake’s deep blue water and the mountains surrounding it; some distant ones are snowcapped yet. 

Chris and Melissa at the top of Mount Boucherie. Chris is checking his phone. Melissa is smiling.

As soon as we were down from the mountain, we talked about when we’d hike up it again. Mount Boucherie is so close and convenient to where we’re staying. Besides, working out at the gym isn’t anywhere near as invigorating. 

Setting Our PB's on Boucherie Rush Trail

Melissa's Apple Smartwatch at the top of Mount Boucherie. Displaying a hike time of 47 minutes, one second.
On our first timed hike up, I took a picture of my watch when we reached the top. It's a few yards away from the 3km sign. Since then, I've switched to always taking a picture in front of the sign.

As of today, we’ve hiked the Boucherie Rush Trail six times. According to AllTrails, the in-and-out trail takes an average of 2 h 1 min to complete. One hour up and one down. On our second time, we gave ourselves forty-five minutes to reach the top. After a two-minute stop to watch deer that crossed our path, we made it in 47 minutes and 1 second.

One of the deer that crossed our path on Mount Boucherie.

Last Wednesday, we stopped after the 1.5 km marker to watch a bald eagle soar. Our time to the top was 42 minutes and 44 seconds. Today, we made it in 40 – our Personal Best (PB). 

A bald eagle soaring in the sky above Mount Boucherie.

We’re quiet on the trail now. Too out of breath to talk on the way up and too lost in thought on the way down. Chris writes guitar music, brainstorms ideas for his guitar channel, and solves software problems. I write and ponder what I’ve read. Today, I thought about Ruth Reichl’s gorgeous prose in The Paris Novel and the book review I’m writing about it. “To read Ruth Reichl is to read a writer fully engaged with all her senses.” I tripped. Again.  

“Careful,” Chris said. “You must be spacing out a lot. That’s the fifth time you’ve tripped.”

I think it was the fourth. 

“I’m writing.”

“Maybe you should write a story about a woman hiking safely down the mountain.”

I didn’t do that, but I did start thinking more about our hikes.

A robin we saw on our way down Boucherie Rush Trail on Mount Boucherie.

When we arrived in West Kelowna, I didn’t expect us to create this challenge for ourselves. I’m glad we have. Today, we even did a little bit of trail running – a very little bit. On Wednesday, who knows? Maybe we’ll do more. When Chris reads that last sentence, I bet he rolls his eyes. 

It’s kind of like this adventure we’ve been on since leaving Minnesota four years ago. Who knows what’ll happen next? Life keeps surprising us, and we keep surprising ourselves. Four years ago, we didn’t know we’d live in Portugal for a couple of years or spend three months in Kinsale, Ireland. Neither of us had heard of the town before we started looking for a VRBO or Airbnb to stay in. We didn’t know we’d hike up mountains, zipline through them, or boat out to them. In eighteen days, we’re moving back to Minnesota. Does it mean we’ll move back to a less adventurous life? I’m not sure, but I don’t think so. 

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