A Weekend With Strangers

Over the past year, “I actually don’t know them yet”, has been my primary reply to the question, “Who’s going with you?”. Don’t talk to strangers”, our moms used to tell us. Now with social media as integrated in our lives as breathing, there is really no limit of who you may come in contact with. Perhaps the worst nightmare of any pre-teens parents, or; the modern super power. ย As I began to get into adventure photography and the outdoor gack that comes along with it, the more these random faces from the internet, became people joining me on trips; of all sorts. Perhaps the most unique of them all was from a single Instagram comment; that became 4 days of some of the most fun I have ever had, with a person I have never met, that lives over 1,600km away; named Scott.

We planned to meet at a coffee shop in Squamish. After walking in, studying everyones faces, seeing nobody familiar, I decided to leave. Back to the comfort of my car. I give Scott a call thinking he went elsewhere but after a short phone discussion I quickly realized I looked directly at him without even realizing. Ah, the struggles of meeting people for the first time; without any clue as to what they look like. Our first order of business was to head to an easy crack to climb over near Shannon Falls. Nothing builds trust faster than partnering with someone you have never even seen rock climb before! or is there?

The original reason we connected was after I expressed interest in highlining in the comment section of a random Instagram photo. If you are unsure about what highlining is, let me show you.

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In simple terms, highlining is walking across a thin line of webbing, extremely high off the ground. Like, really high off the ground. It’s an extremely unique skill to have and it’s not often I come across people with this type of talent.

It was after I first watched Untethered,ย that I wanted to see and shoot highlining more than anything. I guess the stars really aligned for me when Scott sent me that DM. Offering me to join him, while he was in Squamish for a few days from California. As most highliners are rock climbers and vice versa, Scott and I discovered that we may not both highline, but; we both climb. I had only recently began climbing outdoors but had the basic experience to get around without killing myself. Scott on the other hand has been climbing for over a decade. Of course, I was a little bit unsure when he asked me to come out and climb.

We ended up climbing over 4 days total but the one day that sticks out in my mind was the second day. On that day we met with two other climbers, named Mitch and Aaron, at the chief campground. We ended up spending the day sport climbing in Cheakamus Canyon. The entire time I just kept thinking how funny and odd it was that I was spending the day with a group of complete strangers, none of us knowing anyone prior to that morning. Just as I have discovered that photography bonds people through common interest, rock climbing turns out the be the same. A shared love for climbing rock faces, just because you can. This easily can make people become good friends; as I found out.

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After spending the majority of the day out on the cliffs, we got back to the campground around dinner time. We picked up a fabulous dinner consisting of Samosas and McDonalds and took a bit of a break. I was hoping to shoot Scott highlining around sunset and it was almost getting to that time. Mitch and Aaron weren’t able to come up with us, so Scott and I finished our samosas and McDonalds and proceeded to head up the chief ourselves. We set out to go find the highlines that were rumoured to be set up somewhere near third peak. Neither of us really knew if we would actually find them.

After about an hour and some solid gut aches from my poor dinner choice, we were approaching the third peak. We looked for another hour trying to figure out where these highlines were set up. We were both starting to think the lines got taken down already, but on our last attempt at finding them, sure enough; there they were. The excitement was overwhelming, but I was mostly just happy I didn’t have to sustain the treachery of a post McDonalds hike for nothing.

Approaching the cliff, Scott just did his thing, getting set up to walk the 72m line. I browsed around looking for spots to shoot photos. My heart beating a little harder than normal, just at the thought of trying to walk that line.

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When I try to slackline, I’m excited to walk 20m, 5ft from the ground. Scott on the other hand, walked out and back on a 72m line, over 1000ft from the ground, like it was nothing. Why do I even bother? It was pretty incredible to watch.

Later, a few others, who set up the lines, came out and began to walk as well. The sun continued to set and made for one of the most flawless views I have seen in recent memory.

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We descended back down in the dark, but with smiles on our faces from an incredible evening. Actually, make that an incredible day. I was absolutely bagged and wanted nothing more than a full bottle of water and a snack. Regardless, it was still one of the best days I have had in a very long time.

It’s funny to think that a day this epic was filled with so many new faces, some with names I can’t even remember. I definitely learned that going out of my comfort zone and just saying yes to whatever opportunities or experiences may come my way is super important. If I never said yes, I would have never had such a crazy epic day like this one. I never would have met any of the fantastic human beings I met that weekend, or have anything to look back on and smile about.

For all this I would have to thank social media for allowing so many peoples paths to cross. Allowing me to reach out to absolutely anyone and take part in shared interests with some absolutely fantastic… strangers. Who knows, they might turn out to be some of the coolest friends you’ve ever had.

To Scott, Aaron, and Mitch, it was an absolute pleasure. I hope our paths will cross again soon.

-Brendan Williams

For more images from this adventure, visit my website below: http://www.outboundmedia.net/

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