An Unexpected Story

Being a broadcast and online journalism student, I’m always on the lookout for new stories; on this particular weekend however, I planned to take the day off.

Some classmates and I decided to take advantage of Vancouver’s rare sunny weather and hike the Squamish Chief on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. In a strange turn of events, I ended up hiking the Sea to Summit Trail close by instead. As excited as I was to hike the famous Stawamus Chief, I ended up having the best day ever.

Suspension Bridge at the Sea to Summit Peak – Marwa Elgabry

If you know me beyond the virtual world of Medium, you probably know that I’m deathly afraid of heights. By my luck, I had to take a ten minute gondola 885 meters up to the Sea to Summit peak. Stepping on to the Gondola I could quite literally hear my heart pounding in my chest. Stepping off, I wanted to do it all over again. The views up high were absolutely breath taking, and I couldn’t help but smile at the fact that on this unexpected day, I faced my fears.

Lookout Point at the peak of the Sea to Summit Trail – Marwa Elgabry

At the top of the mountain I hiked the Spirit trail where I stumbled upon a story and made a new friend. There was an elderly man sitting on a bench enjoying the view, and smiling and laughing along with a happy group of hikers taking pictures. I couldn’t help but notice how his eyes lit up as he watched the group take in the mountain views. I wondered what his story was.


Hikers enjoying the Mountainous view of Howe Sound – Marwa Elgabry

“Enjoying the view?” I asked.

His name was Alex Dickson; loving husband, friend, and president of the bench club. Alex quickly introduced himself to me and invited me to take a seat on the bench with him.

“The bench is engraved with my late wife’s name. Her and I used to come here often. After her death I would come here and get lost in my grief. So I decided to start the bench club. I take photos of the people I meet here sitting on the bench and add them in a home made journal. I write their name and where they’re from” Alex said.

I told him I’m from Vancouver and he happily took a photo of me with his camera.

“You’re officially part of the bench club!” he said.

To say I was touched would be an understatement. Alex showed me that by finding the light in a devastating situation, you can live a beautiful life. I couldn’t help but smile at the fact that on this unexpected day, I found my favourite story ever.

Thank you Alex.

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