August 13-19, Squamish and Whistler, BC

We left Barry and Lynn’s house late Tuesday morning and drove to Vancouver and then at Horseshoe Bay we headed north on the Sea to Sky Highway along Howe Sound to Squamish, BC.  We got some great views of Howe Sound along our drive.

We are staying at Eagle Vista RV Resort in Squamish.  This is a nice resort with long and wide sites with some grass between sites.  Unfortunately, it has not rained here for a while so the grass is pretty brown.

Wednesday morning we visited the Visitor Center in Squamish to see what all there is to do around this area.  We then headed to the Britannia Mine Museum.  This mine was once the largest producer of copper in the British Empire.  During its operation (1904-1974) more than 50 million tons of ore were produced.  We viewed some displays and watched a video in the Visitor Center and then went outside to look at the buildings and machinery on display.  This mill was the third mill on the site – the first one was replaced because it was not large enough and the second one burned down.

This huge dump truck makes Rex look pretty small!

We donned hardhats and boarded this small train for a tour inside the mine.  There are 150 miles of tunnels in the mountain.

Our tour guide, Isabelle, told us all about mining and the miners.  She was great and made the tour a lot of fun.   She even demonstrated some of the air powered drills.

We really enjoyed the museum and the tour and learned a lot about mining and how the miners worked and lived.

On the way back to Squamish we stopped at Shannon Falls Provincial Park and took a short hike to a great viewpoint.  This beautiful waterfall is the third highest falls in British Columbia measuring 335 meters (1,105 ft) tall.

We then went to the West Coast Railway Heritage Park to view Western Canada’s largest display of heritage railway equipment.  The Royal Hudson No. 2960 steam engine on display in the roundhouse operated from North Vancouver to Squamish from 1974 to 1999.

We were able to tour through many vintage rail cars inside the roundhouse and on the grounds outside. 

We really enjoyed this very nice museum and seeing all the different types of cars and equipment.

Thursday morning was very cloudy and overcast so we headed up the Sea to Sky Highway to Whistler.  This is a beautiful drive higher into the mountains.  We were going to ride the Peak 2 Peak Gondola but decided not to as it was raining by the time we got to Whistler and didn’t look like it was going to clear off anytime soon.  Hopefully, we will have a day with better weather so we can come back and ride the Gondola.   We had also heard about a great kayaking river called the River of Golden Dreams.  This is a small river that runs between Alta Lake and Green Lake just outside of Whistler.  We stopped at a canoe/kayak rental place to check it out and they told us the water level was really low right now and that you could only kayak it one way.   So we will find some lakes by Squamish to kayak if the weather gets better.

On the way back to Squamish we stopped at Brandywine Falls Provincial Park and took a short hike to an overlook of this beautiful waterfall.  This water fall drops 70 meters (230 ft) straight down from the rim.

We also got a great view of Daisy Lake from the overlook.

We woke up Friday to overcast and rainy weather.  Late in the morning we decided to take a drive to Paradise Valley which is northwest of Squamish.  It was a very scenic drive going through a rainforest area and then into dryer mountain terrain.  Unfortunately, the Jeep started making a strange noise which Rex thought was the alternator going out so we turned around and headed back to Squamish.  We stopped at an auto repair shop and made an appointment for later that afternoon.  After lunch Rex took the Jeep back to the repair shop and they told him that the alternator was bad and they would have to order a new alternator and would install it on Saturday.

Saturday was also rainy and overcast and was a good day to get the new alternator for the Jeep and do some grocery shopping.

Sunday the forecast at Whistler was for a chance of morning showers and then clearing off in the afternoon so we decided to head up there and ride the Peak 2 Peak Gondola. The closer we got to Whistler the cloudier and foggier it got.   It started sprinkling when we got to the parking lot but we decided to go ahead and ride the gondola.   In Whistler Village we boarded the Whistler Village Gondola and rode to the Roundhouse Lodge about halfway up Whistler Mountain.  On the way up we met a couple of Vancouver who told us that maybe if we went to the top of Whistler Mountain that we would get above the clouds.

When we got to Roundhouse Lodge it started misting and raining and was cold and windy so we decided to have an early lunch here and see if the weather cleared up any.  After a nice lunch in the lodge the rain has let up so we decided to hike over to the Peak Express Chairlift and ride to the top of the mountain.  In between patches of fog we were able to see the rugged rock cliffs and were amazed that people ski over these sheer cliffs - maybe they are not as intimidating when they are covered with snow.

When we got to the summit at 7, 087 ft we found that we did not get above the clouds as we were greeted with dense fog.

We decided that we were here and we should make the best of the bad weather so we hiked The Whistler Summit Interpretative Walk, a 1.6 km (1 mile) loop around the summit of Whistler Mountain.   Rex stopped at the beginning of the trail to restack one of the interesting rock cairns along the trail.   These cairns were in all kinds of shapes and intricate structures – one looked like a turtle and one like a pagoda.

The hike was in very rocky and rugged terrain with steep cliffs and drop offs.   We know that if it was not foggy the views would have been spectacular.  But our views were only of fog and more fog and when we got to the far side of the mountain it was windy and cold.

We enjoyed the hike very much but decided that it was time to go back down the mountain a ways where it was a little warmer.   On the trip back down the chairlift it was eerie seeing the empty chairs coming at us out of the fog.

When we reached the bottom of this chairlift, we hiked back up to the Peak 2 Peak terminal and boarded the Peak 2 Peak Gondola for the ride to Blackcomb Mountain.  The Peak 2 Peak Gondola was built in 2008 and is the highest lift of its kind at 436 m (1,427 ft), has the longest unsupported span at 3,024 km (1.88 miles) and it completes the longest continuous lift system in the world.

The ride in the gondola was great and the clouds opened up for a short time giving us a quick view of Whistler Village.

 We arrived at the Rendezvous Lodge on Blackcomb Mountain and the weather was much better here.  We hiked on the Alpine Walk, a 1.6 km (0.96 mile) loop through a subalpine forest and rocky outcroppings.   Most of the wildflowers had finished blooming for the summer but there were a few patches of beautiful Fireweed still in bloom. 

We enjoyed this short hike and actually got great views along the way.  We then took the Solar Coaster Express chairlift down the mountain to Whistler Village.  We were told to look for bears on our way down as about 60 bears reside on Blackcomb Mountain and can often be seen from the chairlift.  Unfortunately, we did not see any bears but the weather was clearing up and we had great views coming down.

On our way back to the parking lot we found a farmers market with lots of arts and crafts booths and a few fruit and vegetable booths.  We found a kettle corn stand immediately and bought some great kettle corn.  We had a great time on the mountains and are glad we decided to brave the cold, misty fog.
The forecast for Squamish on Monday was for a nice partly cloudy day so we had planned to go kayaking.  But, once again, the forecast was not very accurate as it was very cloudy all day and looked like it could rain any time.  We decided not to take our chances kayaking so we stayed around the campground and did laundry and started getting ready to move as we are leaving Squamish tomorrow.  We really enjoyed the Squamish and Whistler area even though the weather did not cooperate.


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