It was Remembrance Day and we were stood under the bus shelter listening to the rain pound against the glass. We had decided to take public transport and the length of the journey had made us both irritable. I sat, reading, cheek pressed against the window, foot tapping impatiently against the blue plastic. We missed our stop several times and had to run for the connecting bus. The skies hung heavy above our heads and my hand was pressed tightly in yours.
We reached Port Moody Station to find the next bus wasn’t for an hour. The area was barren, hauntingly so. White paint peeled off the garage walls and dead grass protruded out from between the cracked pavement. The parking lot stretched like a sea beneath our feet, and before long, "we’ll call a taxi."
Soon the meter read $25 and we decided we were close enough to Buntzen Lakes to get out. In front, the road stretched on into mist and darkness. We had no idea where we were or in what direction we were headed, so we headed left, into the forest. A silence descended and was held, quivering, like a balancing blade. The forest opened into road and the surrounding pines captured the echo of our shoes; we were alone. I remembered the bears and cougars and considered my urge to turn and run.
We came to water: a thin, winding corner of Buntzen lake that branched off into river. We had come down the Pumphouse Service Road and reached the Floating Bridge. It sat just atop the water and in the distance mist stretched like film across the lake. The light was heavy and orange and the dried reeds made it seem almost swamp like. A thin green sludge covered the banks and in the distance, blackened stumps stood like soldiers in no-mans-land. It was eerie and ghost-like and far from what I expected.
We crossed the bridge and re-entered the forest; the damp stuck to my skin and I could smell the rich scent of the earth and moss. Our feet crackled on rotting twigs and the branches were heavy with green. The wet smell reminded me of home. We soon reached the second beach.
The sand was damp and a dark, unpleasant yellow. With the grey skies and a hint of rain in the air, it was strange to see families huddled around picnic benches and children casting lines into the water. Blue mountains rolled away into the distance and a solitary canoe left a trail across the water.
Daylight hours were so few that we could not make the hike around the lake, but we sat on rocks and watched the sun sink. I could see the white head of a bald eagle from across the water and I watched as it dove, leaving a flurry of leaves behind it.
We hitchhiked back with a man and his son. As we drove the boot flew open and he didn’t shut it for some time. He told us about the mountains and the tall forests of Tofino. I got the name of our station wrong. Then we were stood, waiting, under the glass of a bus stop, the street lights casting blood-like pools on the road.