ALL THE WAY UP--Looking up at the summit of Mt. Goldie. One of three available hikes for those fortunate to attend Parorama's Ridge Walk.  Photo by Stephan Malette

ALL THE WAY UP–Looking up at the summit of Mt. Goldie. One of three available hikes for those fortunate to attend Parorama’s Ridge Walk.Photo by Stephan Malette

Im from Ontario, born and raised. That should be out there in the open before talking about how incredibly breathtaking, inspiring and momentous the feeling is of climbing to the top of a mountain.

To many, the first question they ask, is well how big was the mountain? and I get it, size matters. Mount Swansea is no Everest. But when I reached the summit of Mt. Goldie on the cool morning of September 17th as part of Panorama Mountain Resorts Ridge Walk, a distance nearly 9,000 ft (2,700 metres) above sea level, I felt a true sense of bliss, a sense of accomplishment that I had reached the highest height of my entire life without jumping aboard a commercial airliner.

To many this isnt a big deal. To Ontarians who might never get to experience the beauty and tranquility of the Columbia Valley, its a massive deal.

When I first heard of Panoramas Ridge Walk, I thought it would be an entertaining day. Ride a couple chair lifts, stand up on a mountain and take a few pictures, cool, I thought.

Instead what I got was a more complete experience. On a freezing cold September morning I arrived, making my way up the face of the Panorama Mountain via the resorts chair lifts as the temperature continued to drop as we got higher up on the mountain.

Following the lead of the experienced tour guides from Panorama, hikers had the choice of doing three different hikes: the Goldie Plateau, Goldie Lake, and, of course, the summit of Mt. Goldie. Choosing the third and easily the most difficult of the three was equally as physically demanding as it was rewarding once I reached the summit.

With the cold weather already presenting an uncomfortable environment, dovetailed with the lack of oxygen at higher altitude, reaching the top of the mountain was no easy task. It took several stops along the way, glancing over my shoulder at the breathtaking terrain that I had already accomplished before I was able to celebrate at the top with my fellow hikers.

One of the unique elements that made this experience special was being able to see Panorama in its natural element without any snow. As somebody who had never been to the mountain before, I havent the slightest clue exactly what the mountain looks like with snow on it, available to skiers. Though many on the walk made comments to me about how special it was to see without the snow, I thought it was interesting to be able to picture that image, unfiltered as I look forward to the first snow fall of the year.

Despite the rain and cloudy view from the top, Panoramas Ridge Walk was an experience Id recommend to anyone with the chance to do in the future. As another group made their way up the mountain the following Saturday I thought about what their reactions would be as they reached the summit, hoping they received the sunny day they were after.

Even if they didnt though, I know from experience that it still would have been well worth the climb.