SATURDAY, JULY, 5 2014
Aerial Views of Hiking and Camping in Whistler
A collection of aerial videos of hiking, camping and relaxing in Whistler from the recent weeks. Lots of snowy mountains, bears and sunny days! Callaghan Lake Provincial Park up in the Callaghan Valley south of Whistler, is an often overlooked but beautiful and easily accessible mountain lake. First impressions are important, and when you arrive at Callaghan Lake, the first thing you see is the main campground. It looks more like a large gravel parking lot, which it pretty much is. So, most visitors to Callaghan Lake don't rate it too highly. When you take a look a bit further and see the lake, the views get a bit better. But still the place is mediocre at best. What you need to do is get out on the lake or hike along the easy-to-miss hiking trail that runs along the right side shore(if standing at the main parking/campsite area). Once you get some distance between you and the main campsite area, Callaghan Lake becomes spectacular. Surrounded by pristine wilderness and snowy mountains beyond, the lake is crystal clear and the shores are wonderfully devoid of humanity. With a little effort you can find some amazing places to put up a tent, like this one on a little paradise island near the far shore. Whistler Golf Course sits right at the centre of Whistler or just at the edge of Whistler Village. The Valley Trail runs around it and it is a very popular 5 kilometre running, walking and biking route. It also has a wonderful reputation of being a great place to spot bears in the spring, summer and fall. If you go along the Valley Trail in the morning or late evening you have a good chance of spotting one as they seem to love the grass in the area. A perfect campsite another perfect lake in Whistler. Snow along the trail and 23c at the lake, amazing. Alta Lake is the huge lake at the centre of Whistler with several beautiful parks along its shores. It is connected to Green Lake by a small and meandering river that stretches for several kilometres. The River of Golden Dreams is a slow moving journey through the forest in Whistler that is popular attraction on its own. Whether you paddle through in a canoe, a kayak or some form of rubber dingy, you will have an amazing time. If you are lucky you will spot a beaver or two or even a bear. This portage is located along the Valley Trail just a 5 minute walk from Rainbow Park on Alta Lake. Though the water just drops about a metre, the purpose of the area is to enable fish to negotiate this tricky section. In the fall you will see dozens of Kokanee swimming in the shallow pools of the River of Golden Dreams. This portage to get around the fish ladder is quite a scenic spot as you leave the wide open Alta Lake and enter a green tunnel. The river starts very narrow and engulfed in trees for about 300 metres before it joins with the river that drains from Rainbow Lake and becomes the wonderful and wide River of Golden Dreams. Logger's Lake is an amazing little lake hidden up in the deep forest above the more well known Cheakamus River. The lake, almost unbelievably exists in a long extinct volcano. However, as soon as you see the lake up close, you quickly come to believe it. The lake sits in an almost cartoonish looking, volcano-shaped bowl, with one side of the bowl a crumbling array of truck sized boulders leading down to the lake. The crater that Logger's Lake sits in was a volcano that pushed through the glacial ice in this valley about 10000 years ago. As the lava cooled it formed the wonderful basalt ridge that is crumbling into valley. As Logger's Lake sits deep in this ancient volcano's vent, it is sheltered from the wind and soaks up the suns rays into the dark boulders all around. As a result makes it the warmest lake in Whistler, though most other lakes around are glacier fed(via rivers and creeks), so the comparison is not entirely fair. The surrounding cliffs and forest also add to the tranquility of the lake. Located a bit off the radar for most and requiring a short logging road drive and then a very steep, but short hike to get to also contributes to its serenity. The Flank Trail runs along the flank of Mount Sproatt, high above Alta Lake. If you are up on Whistler Mountain looking down on Whistler Village, Sproatt is the huge mountain across the valley. Though Sproatt is coming alive in recent years with new trails, for the most part, that side of the valley is infrequently hiked. If you don't mind some tough hiking, however, you can escape into the wilderness up and beyond the Flank Trail and find a spot like this. Located along the new Mount Sproatt hiking and biking trail that is being constructed this year and next, the views are sensational. There won't be any trail signs to get here for a while yet(probably 2015). If you start hiking from the Flank Trail/Whistler Train Wreck trailhead in Function Junction and hike up the Flank Trail for about 30-40 minutes and keep your eye out on your left for a newish looking trail ascending up towards Mount Sproatt. The trail is very steep, so pack light. You will find a string of rock clifftops like this one, one after another, about 45 minutes from the Flank Trail.
TUESDAY, JUNE, 24 2014
Alexander Falls in Whistler - Aerial View
Alexander Falls is located up in the Callaghan Valley near Whistler. The Callaghan Valley was home to some of the alpine events for the 2010 Olympic Games. You can still see some of the venues at Whistler Olympic Park, though these days it seems closed more often than open. A big "Closed for the Season" sign bars entrance. The Callaghan Valley is home to quite a few beautiful places worth seeing. Alexander Falls is just before Whistler Olympic Park and the large viewing area overlooks the amazing falls across the enormous gorge. One of the most impressive falls around. The Callaghan Valley is well known recently as a great place to spot bears. There are bear tours that drive people up valley where you often spot two or three bears in just a couple kilometres.
FRIDAY, JULY 12, 2013
Panorama Ridge in Garibaldi Provincial Park
Panorama Ridge is one of the most amazing hiking trails in Garibaldi Park. Garibaldi Lake is unnaturally beautiful with its weirdly surreal turquoise colour. The blistering sunny weather hasn't kicked in at 630am. An early start as we want to swim at Garibaldi Lake on the way there and on the way back during the 30 kilometre roundtrip hike. A very cold breeze blows through the Rubble Creek parking lot. Lots of cars in the parking lot at the trailhead to Garibaldi Lake/Panorama Ridge but not a person in sight. It does look as though a curtained camper van might have occupants still sleeping though. A big sign at the trailhead warns of construction crews working, but surely we have beat them to the trail this morning. About 3 kilometres into the trail there is a funny little backhoe tractor that barely fits in the trail. They are tidying the trail and it looks great. Wide and smooth. Just past the 6 kilometre mark we take the right hand fork in the trail and head to Garibaldi Lake. As we pass the little Garibaldi Lake we spot lots of jumping fish disturbing the otherwise glassy water. At Garibaldi Lake we take a quick detour to see the beach and campsite. Only two people can be seen but surely a few tents hidden in the trees. There are 50, well hidden campsites in the trees near the lake shore at the Garibaldi Lake campsite and it is so well designed they all remain secluded. Back on the trail to Panorama Ridge and the sun is getting higher and warmer now. 1030am and still no one on the trails. An hour later and well past the Black Tusk junction we start catching glimpses of Panorama Ridge... still well packed with snow and Black Tusk lake is partly frozen... though it looks glassy and as though it will melt away in a matter of minutes. The snowline starts early and patches appear just above Black Tusk Lake. If you don't have sunglasses at this part you'd be in some serious, blinding pain. It's such a strange feeling, hiking on snow and sweating in the hot sun. Just glimpses of Garibaldi Lake as we sweat up the steep, final ascent to the ridge. Finally at the top and Garibaldi Lake is ridiculously blue. The mountains across the lake are dark green and topped with snow which, I'm sure make the unnatural looking blue of the lake look even more vivid. Panorama Ridge continues for quite a ways as you slowly ascend with the lake to your right. We keep following it, all the while hearing the loud whistles of several unseen marmots lurking somewhere. Finally at the end of Panorama Ridge with the sun beaming down. High up in the mountains of Garibaldi Park and it must be 21 degrees. As we look around, we both notice, not a person in sight. A common thing in Garibaldi Park it seems. Extraordinary!
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 8, 2012
The Now Completed Section of Sea to Sky Trail in Whistler
The Sea to Sky Trail is the 180K hiking, biking, walking, snowshoeing, cross country skiing and running trail that stretches from Squamish to D'Arcy. Overall the trail is still under construction, however, the beautiful route through Whistler is finally in place and for the most part, complete. This extraordinary trail meanders its way through many of Whistler's seemingly endless, beautiful sights. The Whistler section of the Sea to Sky Trail is 33 kilometres long between Brandywine Falls Provincial Park and WedgeWoods Estates just north of Green Lake (north of Whistler Village). The Whistler section of the trail is paved near the Village, and further out, dirt or crushed rock. Some sections are narrow, dirt and challenging as they wind through deep forest in an absurdly winding, though very fun, roller coaster like route through the trees. North of Whistler Village the trail can be challenging with several hills as it rises above and beyond Parkhurst. This marvellous and newly built section is a wide, crushed rock path that is relaxing and smooth despite continuous hills to reach the summit of the trail. High above Green Lake, the high point of the Whistler part of the Sea to Sky Trail has some fantastic views of mountains all around. South of Whistler Village, the paved Whistler Valley Trail that the Sea to Sky Trail shares, ends at Cheakamus Crossing and becomes a narrow dirt trail with some wider sections of crushed rock. This beautiful section follows the Cheakamus River making four dramatically beautiful river crossings. The Cal-Cheak area is one of these beautiful crossings. The Calcheak Suspension Bridge spans the wide and always rushing and chaotic Cheakamus River. You can't help wonder how Whistler seems to have these great bridges on various trails. They are very long and well constructed and certainly expensive. There is another one further up the Cheakamus River towards Cheakamus Lake. Evidently, if you are thinking the cute suspension bridge at Calcheak is nice you are in for a shock. Further down the trail you come to the enormous, chasm spanning, Whistler Bungee Bridge. This amazing bridge crosses way above the Cheakamus River far below. The bridge is ridiculously long and absurdly high. Expect to spend some time in this area, not just for the amazing bridge, but also the cliffs just past the bridge, that have some impressive views as well. Across the Bungee Bridge the Sea to Sky Trail passes near and past some nice viewpoints of distant mountains and valleys. The trail eventually leads directly through Brandywine Provincial Park and very close to the wonderful viewpoint across to the falls. Brandywine Falls is a great place to park your car and start out on the trail. Calcheak is also a good place to park and there is plenty of room near the, hard-to-miss Sea to Sky Trail signs. Nearer to Whistler Village there are dozens of good places to park. All of the parks in Whistler on the trail have convenient and free parking. Right in Whistler Village you will find parking near Lost Lake Park in Lot 4 and get on the trail just metres from your car. North of Whistler there is convenient and free parking at Nicklaus North Golf Course, just a five minute walk from the Green Lake part of the Sea to Sky Trail that rises from the Lost Lake Trail. Further north still, the turnoff for Wedgemount Lake, just north of Green Lake has lots of parking near the Sea to Sky Trailhead there.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 18, 2012
Mount Sproatt Bushwhacking in Whistler from the Flank Trail
Mount Sproatt is the almost never hiked mountain that lays across the valley from Whistler and Blackcomb mountains. There are no real trails to the summit, but instead about four (poor) options. You can hike from the North Air Mine, near the Whistler Olympic Park, or bushwhacking from the Rainbow Lake trail, or long distance alpine hiking from beyond Rainbow Lake or bushwhacking from the Flank Trail near Rainbow Park. This is the route we took, bushwhacking from the beautiful Flank Trail. Starting at Beaver Pass (a bike trail), then on to the beautiful and steep downhill bike trail, Cheap Thrills then connecting onto the Flank Trail which then crosses Sproatt Creek. The bushwhack route follows Sproatt Creek to the alpine and the summit of Sproatt. Trails run so abundant in Whistler that many go unnoticed, neglected or taken for granted. The Flank Trail is one of these. Most people in Whistler don't even know about it, but the ones that do, love it. The Rainbow-Sproatt Flank Trail runs the length of Whistler Valley, opposite Whistler and Blackcomb mountains. Flanking both these enormous mountains, the Flank Trail is the inspiration for an ever-growing number of trails that run to it, from it, and across it. From the Callaghan Valley, far south of Whistler, near Whistler Olympic Park it begins(or ends). It then stretches 40 kilometres along the flank of the massive and sprawling Mount Sproatt, then Rainbow Mountain, where it finally terminates near Ancient Cedars and Showh Lakes. Ancient Cedars and Showh Lakes are well north of Whistler Village and adjacent to Green Lake. The 40 kilometre trail takes you past some pretty amazing sights. From the beginning, Whistler Olympic Park is interesting and beautiful. Sitting high up in the Callaghan Valley and built for the 2010 Olympic Games, Whistler Olympic Park is an impressive, civilized oasis in an otherwise thick forest wilderness. Open year-round, this metropolis in the woods, depending on the season is home to cross country skiing, snowshoeing, a biathlon experience, a surprisingly nice cafe, and endless trails to see the Olympic sights. Not least the giant ski jump that you can get up close to to appreciate its enormity. Just a short hike from Whistler Olympic Park on the Flank Trail takes you past the long abandoned Northair Mine. This briefly thriving gold mine is now an unusual little world in the woods.
TUESDAY, JULY 17, 2012
St Mark's Summit - Still Snow in Mid July
St Mark's Summit on the Howe Sound Crest Trail beginning at Cypress Mountain Resort. Beautiful and amazing views of Howe Sound. Some patches of snow on the trail and lots of snow at St Mark's Summit, except for the rocky outcrops. The hike is well marked though consistently steep as you gain 460 metres in just 5.5k. Once reaching St Mark's Summit there are several amazing peaks to explore and just when you think you have seen every viewpoint, you find another. There are even a couple amazing viewpoint clearings to put up your tent as many do here. The gravel and dirt trail winds through a beautiful and deep forest, occasionally following switchback as the trail ascends further into the mountains. After 20 minutes the trail and forest above and around it noticeably changes to a more wild and natural looking forest. The trail skirts the edge of some steep, though very safe cliffs and your first amazing view of Howe Sound. The intense blue of the ocean far below contrasting with the distant, dark green, tree covered mountains, which then contrast back to the light blue of the sky is breathtaking. So close to Vancouver, yet very little of humanity is visible. No building, no houses, cars or highways in this enormously sweeping view of the British Columbia's coast. Just the occasional, and very distant sailboats silently catching the famous Howe Sound wind shown by the telltale white wash trailing behind. After 40 minutes on the trail the mostly gravel trail has long since given way to the more natural looking dirt trail. Plenty of tree roots zig zag across the trail and plenty of moderately steep switchbacks mark this section of the trail. At one hour into the trail a faint trail leaves the main trail to the left and following for about 20 seconds takes you to a fabulous cliff with more amazing views of Howe Sound and the first really beautiful area to stop and sit down. However, St Mark's Summit is only 15 minutes further along the trail.
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 27, 2012
Lone Cone Mountain - Paradise Hiking in Tofino
In an effort to avoid the crowds in Tofino we took a water taxi to Meares Island and hiked the Grouse Grind of Tofino, Lone Cone Mountain. 730m in 3.3k. Ducking and dodging fallen trees everywhere. Not many views along the trail, but at the top, incredible. We thought we couldn't top the tent view yesterday, but we did. Amazing. Tofino is just amazing. Day 5: $0. Lone Cone is the wonderful cone shaped mountain that dominates the skyline in Tofino. It is just 6k from Tofino on the north-western end of Meares Island. Lone Cone is an incredible hike to do while in Tofino. There are several attributes that make it fantastic. First, its location. Very close to Tofino. Just a short and very scenic boat taxi takes you to the trailhead. Second, is it is such an abruptly steep hike that you go from the ocean to absurdly sweeping views in just over an hour. Due to the location of Lone Cone requiring a water taxi to access, ensures that it remains serene and quiet most days.
TUESDAY, JUNE 26, 2012
Hiking in Tofino - Radar Beach
The streets of Tofino were packed as summer finally hit in late June. We managed to find a quiet beach far off the radar. , far below Radar Hill in Tofino. The hike down to the quiet beaches (there are 3) is amazing (at least in my view). It looks and feels like the . Deep jungle, mud, lots of mud, steep at times and lots of massive, dead trees to climb over, walk across, or duck under. There are even three ropes to assist in steep sections. It's this difficult and dirty trail that keeps the tourists away. We didn't mind. Finding a beach in Tofino this beautiful and this deserted is something special. Never saw anyone for the almost two days we were there.. crazy. Day 4: $0 is one of the innumerable places that makes this part of the world so amazing. It is difficult to get to due to it having an unmarked trailhead, steep and muddy trail, and considerable climbing and crawling above and below fallen trees. Where the other popular beach trails in the area have elaborate and expensive boardwalks and stairs, Radar Beach does not. And hopefully never will. This difficult trail ensures Radar Beach as a secluded paradise in the midst of the sometimes less than secluded, nearby beaches.
MONDAY, JUNE 25, 2012
Hiking in Tofino - Virgin Falls
We arrived in Tofino on a mission to dispel the reputation that Tofino is expensive. Hotels run seldom less than $160 and campsites are always full.. and crowded. Our third night was at the famous, though tough to get to, Virgin Falls. Not hard to find, but far.. 30k of sketchy, bumpy, paint scratching logging road to reach the extraordinary Virgin Falls. Our first night out in the woods in Tofino and we hit paradise. Aside from the water being brutally cold to swim, the place was perfect.. and there must not have been another soul for 20k in any direction. We had paradise to ourselves. Day 3: $0 At 53 metres, Virgin Falls is quite an impressive sight. You walk through the short, two minute forest trail to reach it and it fills your view. It is located in a beautiful oasis it has created. A large, ice cold and crystal clear pool with pebble rocks and waterfall battered logs that flows out in a large, meandering stream through the trees. The whole area is surrounded by huge trees and you feel a strange sense of comfort, like you are in protected place. And when you roll out your sleeping bag in the spectacular setting, you will never want to leave.