Welcome to the Outdoor Recreation Capital of Canada!
The drive from Vancouver to Squamish is quite a rush, especially in the early morning. I had made a CD mix for Katherine of electronic music, and had actually designed it to be listened to while driving in the morning. Today seemed as appropriate as any day, with the mist covering up most of the scenery as we set our heels and headed away from the city, along the Sea to Sky Highway. A slow drizzle was washing the day anew, and it followed us all the way to Squamish, apparently the Outdoor Recreation Capital of Canada.
The soft pulsing of the music slowly began to open up, as did the road as we passed, kilometer after kilometer into the wilderness.
The view of Squamish Chief from Kelly's favorite breakfast stop.
Much road construction has begun in preparation for the 2010 winter Olympics in Vancouver, and signs of large heavy machinery tearing at the walls of granite and dirt lined the roads anywhere we went. Katherine enjoys driving on steep windy roads, and the soft chillout ambient flow of the first few tracks wear away and give rise to more robust, clubby trance as she powered up the wet and windy mountain trails. I feel like im on a rollercoaster to the sky, except that my feet are greased with bacon. I allow the car and the passing mountainscape to take me to where it will.
Kelly cannot start the day without coffee, so we indulge ourselves and stop underneath the pale visage of Squamish Chief, a ginormous granite dome with a face of a climber's paradise, like a little brother to Yosemite's Half Dome.
Our crispy misty, after coffee, early morning, stunning shower.
Inside the local coffeeshop, we sit next to a couple from Chatanooga Tennessee. They regale to us the stories of their meeting, and the many adventures that they have done over their years of association. Its like hearing a romantic love story and rock climbing shop talk all at once. My hands and face are inspired to hit the walls, and my heart jumps and skips with each bump in their story. God i love a good story.
After exchanging information with them, we ran up the local waterfall, Shannon Falls. A stunning way to start the day with a refreshing shower of morning mist. Shannon Falls is hidden away behind the base of the mountains at the entrance of Stawamus Chief Provincial Park. She stands tall from the approach, and taller as her thunderous roars belch out her welcome at her feet.
Trail head to Elfin Lakes @ Garabaldi Provincial Park.
Local stories tell of Say-noth-ka, a two-headed sea serpent that travelled on both land and sea, and formed the falls by climbing up and down the mountain which gradually gave birth to the mouth of the cascading falls from the top of the mountain.
Morning shower done, climb back into our car and make haste for the next adventure, to the trailhead of Elfin Lakes @ Garabaldi Provincial Park. After an outhouse break to work away the remnants of the coffee, and taking heed to the many bear warnings, we set foot into the earth and make our way to our first hike. From the parking lot, the trail begins up a steep and lush climb along the forrest until it opens up to several small lakes at a snow shelter, approximately 11 kilometers and 600ft of elevation away.
As always, someone is lagging behind along the first climb of Elfin Lakes @ Garabaldi Provincial Park.
Katherine assures me that this is barely a warm-up for things to come. I am ecstatic...hahahaha!
About 6 kilometers into the trail, the lush green vegetation opens up to the beginings of the dense alpine pines at Red Heather Meadow, and a small rest hut, complete with a steep "floating" outhouse. It seems you have to go uphill for anything around here, but in the end its all well worth it hahaha! We have lunch and rehydrate here, meeting a few Whiskey Jacks, the local birds. As Katherine tells it, they are bolder than pigeons and their fear of people is only shadowed by their hunger for good food ^^ something i can appreciate.
Picking up from out lunch, i am rejuventated. Passing a few creeks along the way, i stop to take a lick of the waters.
The first rest shelter. We have lunch here to rest and refuel before Elfin Lakes @ Garabaldi Provincial Park.
Drinking from dirt and vegetation isnt really a good idea, but hey, i havent tasted snow runoff for quite a while, and it WAS well worth the taste. Perhaps ill get a real drink later on (wink wink). As we continue our climb, the tress and plants begin to disappear, and fog begins to reappear. The softness of the forrest floor turns into rocks, lots of rocks, and our climb becomes enshrouded in a dense pea-soup fog. The next 6 kilometers kinda flies by. As we near the meadow surrounding the Lakes, small flowers pop up from out of the fog...and yes it is really foggy. To my delight, the trees and plants come back too.
We wander around the meadow for a bit (please dont tell the rangers) before the Elfin Lakes and the shelter appear.
This is the outhouse at the first shelter. Its quite a steep climb in itself hahahah!
Actually up close, the Elfin Lakes are quite a spectacle, even in the fog. In the stillness of the waters, the shelter and the shore on the opposite side of the lake reflect perfectly in the late morning light. Then, as we traversed the side of the lake (we took the long way, for the scenic tour hahah), stacks upon stacks of rocks appeared, lining the entire far side of the lake. Quite a spectacle really, since i was not expecting to see artwork so early in the morning, and not in such a place. All shapes and sizes. Big stones, flat stones, fat stones. We took pictures of our favorite ones.
I take off my glove and run my hands through the crystal clear water. It is actually really warm to the touch, though i dont get adventurous enough to jump in hahaha.
Someone takes a sip from a crispy mountain stream to Elfin Lakes @ Garabaldi Provincial Park.
Not today. Not yet. Im saving my butt for later, since i only plan to get wet once. I have been promising the girls that i will show them the true meaning of "shrinkage" hahaha! Still, i could have really enjoyed wading in with a beer (although i gave up recreational drinking), and soaking in the midmorning calmness. Hallucinating in hypothermia. Sexy!
Heading into the shelter, Katherine gives us the "grand tour," showing us the central stove where people keep warm (and dry their socks haha). I take a moment and sign in to the journal. Two cents is all it takes. Some poor lad or lass will have to read my brain farts at a leter date. Jewels of wisdom from the roadside prophet. Going upstairs to the sleeping quarters, it looks alot like a backpacker hostel, except that the light is perfect for a photo shoot.
The weather closes in on us as we assend our second climb.
So we take off our packs and the weight from our shoulders to relax, and lay down some really good pictures. A few are posted below. After exhausting our artistic urges, we once again head downstairs and say our farewells to the lakes and the shelter, blowing kisses to the wind.
You'd never guest wad happened along the way back though. Through a hole in the weeds on the side of the trail, the clouds down below lift away and reveal a view of the lower valley. Squamish Chief and the entire valley and surrounding mountain ranges. Only it looks like an old chinese painting. It turned out to be the pinnacle of this hike. Well worth the wait, and well worth the climb up and back, for a tiny glimpse into the riches and rewards of venturing out of one's door to satisfy curiousity.
Katherine & BiG on the Elfin lakes meadows.
..if only for 12 kilometers hahaha! A cool sense of calm took us over and the walk back down the hill to our cars seemed like floating down a cloud of marshmellows. We were flying inside, and a sense of complete fulfillment set in. Coffee. Waterfalls. Fog. Meadows. Lakes. And an oil painting curtesy of mother nature herself. Makes one get high from just being alive. Man i wish i could bottle up that feeling and take it home. Comfort sets in however, when i realize that feeling will always be there, in Squamish, anytime that i feel like revisiting, which definitely i plan to do. Do you want to go back with me ^^?
2008.08.28 - Thursday
The morning greets us with rain.
The Elfin Lakes shelter, and her reflection off the early afternoon mist.
An appropriate northern welcome, washing away the memories of yesterday...cleansing in the new day...perhaps it will be done cleansing by the time we hit the trailhead haha! BiG's mandate on no rain has been submitted to the committee, but it seems to be stuck in the Senate...we will need a 2/3'rds majority to go hiking today. Bill was veto'd by the president...Recall Please!!