It was still dark when we loaded up our vehicle to head towards the breathtaking mountain range in the Chilliwack River Valley. With sleepy eyes and hungry stomachs we carefully loaded the vehicle with everything we would need for the most epic breakfast: a camp stove, cast iron pan, locally made bowls and plates, and of course, the ingredients.
As we made our way through the towering trees shrouded with fog and mist we couldn’t help but stand in awe at the beautiful alpine meadows that surrounded us. From where we stood we could see the towering Mount Cheam, which offers one of the finest 360 degree views anywhere in the South Coast of BC. On a clear day you can see all of the way to Vancouver Island and the Olympic Peninsula in Washington.
Lhílheqey, the Halq’eméylem placename for Mount Cheam, is the name of a woman who was turned to stone by the Transformers and given the responsibility to watch over the river and the people. Lhílheqey means “glacier,” “to resoak” or “rehydrate something.” The lakes on the mountain were used to rehydrate dried foods such as berries, meat, or fish. This was done during long berry gathering and hunting expeditions on Mount Cheam, an important gathering place of the Stó:lō. We were grateful to be able to follow in the footsteps of those on this land before us, and to learn more about the deep meaning that this mountain has to the Indigenous people of the Fraser Valley.
Trekking along through the mountain range we were even able to gather some wild blueberries: the perfect addition to our feast. Finding locally grown and handcrafted food isn’t hard in The Fraser Valley, our abundant land gives us fresh fruit and produce, and our talented producers put love and passion into the meat, cheese, eggs, and pantry staples they provide. We wanted to create a meal that showcased the depth of flavours that can be found in our region, while keeping things relatively simple for a trip up the mountain.
Once we arrived it was time to set up our outdoor kitchen and get to work. Cornmeal from Anita’s Organic Mill was cooked into a herbed polenta and topped with delicious aged Gouda from Smits & Co.w. This was accompanied by locally grown corn, zucchini, peppers, tomatoes, squash and herbs which were carefully roasted and charred on our camp grill. It wouldn’t be a mountainside breakfast without eggs, so the dish was topped with a savoury fried egg from Aslan Organics. The finishing touch? A splash of the most unique syrup we’ve ever tasted: Wild Forest Food Co.’s Birch Syrup! Add a slice or two of homemade sourdough topped with some local butter and we were ready to savour the food and the view.
As we packed up and made our way back down the mountain, we felt full: of gratitude, appreciation, and respect for all that this land and community have to offer. Thank you to all who made this possible: Sam Waddington/Mt. Waddington’s Outdoors, Bonnie Friesen, Yes Chef, Local Harvest, Lepp Farm Market, Mark’s Bread. Please remember to visit our backcountry responsibly: let someone know where you are hiking, be prepared for the elements, pack out what you pack in, and leave no trace. Visit AdventureSmart to get prepared. Please note that our group carried our gear in and out and did not set up a campsite. We were assisted by a local guide and had permission from the local regional district.