Three benches were donated in Lenami’s name by people who cared about her and were inspired by her. The bench at Garibaldi Lake in particular has a lot of personal meaning to me.
Garibaldi Lake was the first place that Lenami and I we went camping together. It was the first time in her life that Lenami got to see a glacial lake and alpine meadows. I remember seeing her eyes widen when she first saw the turquoise water in Barrier then Garibaldi Lake and the look of awe on her face as she took it all in. We spent a long time sitting, talking and just being happy together, along the shores of this lake. I remember trying to teach her how to skip stones at this lake but never being able to find that ‘perfect’ skipping stone.
It was Lena’s first backpacking trip, and I remember being amazed at how well she handled it – not once did she complain or ask to slow down. She completely embraced the trip and the experience and fell in love with the outdoors. She was in awe of the scenery, wanted to know if all lakes up in the mountains were that colour and immediately wanted to do more camping trips. She even started to acquire her own gear not long after that trip.
I hiked in alone the first time I went to see Lenami’s bench. When I found it, on Battleship Island, three people were wadding in the water in front of it and had put their food and gear on and around it. Without telling them why, I asked them if I could sit down, and one of them turned to me and said ‘yes sit down, it’s magical.’
There really wasn’t any better introduction to her bench for me. I wanted a bench where I could sit down, talk to her, and hopefully feel her next to me. There may not have been enough magic in the bench to give me back what I wanted, but I’m glad it’s a place where other people can go to sit down, relax, and find themselves in awe of their surroundings. And for those that go there and feel like it’s a magical place – I’d like to tell myself that I know why.
My sincerest thanks to Lenami’s coworkers who fundraised to make this bench possible. From the bottom of my heart: thank you.
p.s. Special thanks to Lenami’s friends and co-workers at the Ministry of the Environment and to Chris Platz and Kendra Wood from the BC Parks regional staff.