Archive for ‘day trip’

September 3, 2012

Squamish

When we left for Montreal, one of the things I was most upset about leaving behind were our frequent summer trips to Squamish. My first time climbing outdoors was with my husband when we first began dating. Over the years we have introduced many friends to it. We are not serious climbers by any means. Many of the community’s more fervent members would look on us with scorn for our late-morning start times, our lax pace on the rock, and, most of all, our ritual pre-climb meet-up place: Taco Bell (the Taco Bell in Squamish recently closed, and is not GF-friendly, so our days there are over, but recounted fondly!). Our motivation when climbing, however, is to have fun being active and to always be safe. We aren’t out to break records, just to have a good and relaxing time.

The drive from Vancouver to Squamish is among my favourite of all the drives I’ve ever done. The highway runs right along the coast, where the mounain tumble sharply into Howe Sound. In late evening, the sun pokes out in gods-rays behind peaks in the middle of the ocean. The highway winds in tight S curves, and it is a delight to fly down when the roads are clear. There are many lovely look out points to stop along to snap pictures, but few gas stations.

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The Chief, post-hike, on a rainy and fogged-in day.

 

You know you’ve arrived in Squamish when you barrel around a corner and catch sight of the Chief: a giant monolith of granite lumped on the east side of the highway. The Chief is the second largest rock of its kind in North America. The hike to the top is a definite “bucket list” item if you are looking for a challenge. The ascent is pretty much like doing 2 hours of stairs (sometimes crossing over and through a creek), except for the last 15 minutes which is like doing 15 minutes of rope laddering. We hiked it in the pouring rain, and I do not recommend it – dangerously slippery. The feeling at the top is pretty astounding. And then you must down-climb that rope ladder descend those stairs, and my god 2 hours of plunking down stairs does a number on your knees and hips! There’s talk of putting a tourist gondola up the back of the Chief to attract more tourists. I was firmly opposed until I realized I could hike up and take the gondola down. Then it became a touch more palatable to me!

If you aren’t up for such an intense ascent, Alice Lake is a good spot for a leisurely hike. The Four Lakes Loop starts off steep, but flattens quickly and is quite pleasant. If you fancy a bike ride, Government Road from Eagle’s Run to Bailey Street to Cleveland Avenue is a nice route along the Squamish River. The best view of the valley, however, is a short stroll into Smoke Bluffs Recreation Area. Take the trail in a ways and you’ll see a neighbourhood of homes. The view from the west side of Cliffside Lane, just up into the resident’s front yards, is sweeping – the Chief is unobstructed, as are views of the Coast Mountains, with peaks directly west and north as they turn into Whistler, Pemberton, and beyond. Be jealous of all the homeowners whose properties scatter along the edge of Burger and Fries, the beginners climbing wall just below.

Howe Sound Brewery Inn has a good rates for places to stay, and a good restaurant if you don’t have food allergies. Their beer is divine. If you have food allergies, Onatah Coffee is a good spot for a morning treat or nut bar. For a romantic but still reasonably priced dinner, hit up The Nest – their GF pizza crust is fantastic, and I have rarely had such helpful and friendly service. They also have GF pasta available!

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Delicious, gourmet gluten-free pizza. There are some fantastic topping combinations!

 

Squamish is a unique place, full of friendly hippies and outdoor enthusiasts, with some of the most spectacular views in all of Canada. Access to it is one of the many reasons I am thrilled to live here!

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