In the first couple of weeks of our trip we drove from Vancouver to Whistler on the Sea to Sky highway. This road takes you past a little place called Squamish. The last time we were in Squamish we visited Walmart, bought some duvets and left again. We didn’t actually see any of the town and boy were we missing out! Being back in this area has been amazing and it’s defiantly in our top 3 places to visit in Canada…so far.
We hadn’t planned on returning to Squamish but seeing as life in Martha the Mazda was becoming pretty hard with all the rain we were experiencing, Sam sprung into action and it was back to Squamish we were heading! (HelpX blog coming soon with more details…)
Now Squamish is called ‘Canada’s Outdoor Recreation Capital’ and having spent only a fews hours here it was obvious to us that the Tourism bigwigs weren’t overselling! It is the place where the ocean meets the mountains in Sea to Sky country and “where rugged landscapes and stunning vistas come together to create memorable adventures.” (tourism Squamish) You can do pretty much any outdoor adventure activity here; hiking, kite surfing, rock climbing and even mountain biking (wonder who thought coming to Squamish was a good idea!) And we’ve been dipping our toes into these adventures in our down time from our HelpXing.
Kitesurfer at the spit. Brohm Lake hike.
Obviously any vacation that Sam is involved in must have a large proportion of riding about on two wheels, whilst going very fast over tree roots and rocks. So he’s been out on his bike exploring the area with some of the locals he’s met through our HelpX hosts. But he’s even had me out on the trails! I have in fact become so expert in not falling off a bike and not getting off to push it up a hill, that I treated myself to my very own bike gloves from our favourite Canadian outfitters MEC!
Now I am ok at walking a long distance on the flat, but somehow I have lost my Lake District legs somewhere in Manchester and am finding hiking up a hill pretty tough! At the beginning of our trip we completed the Grouse Grind in North Vancouver, aptly known as natures stairmaster, and now as punishment (Sam might call it a reward for all my hard work) we would hike the Chief. This famous Squamish hike (officially named Stawamus Chief) is a granite dome which towers 700m above Howe Sound and it begins (much as the Grouse Grind does) with, what feels like, a billion steps! However in contrast to the Grind it does level out and there are some step ladders and ropes to climb up which makes it a little bit more interesting in my opinion. The views at the top are truly epic and worth all those steps early on.
The Stawamus Cheif as viewed from the highway.
The climb up!
The weather has added a different dimension to our time in Squamish, as BC has decided that Summer is around the corner; treating us to clear blue skies and uninterrupted sunshine (I’ll just dig out my waterproofs now as I’ve surely just tempted fate!) This has meant that we’ve been able to get out and hike or bike almost every afternoon; only occasionally have we sat back and just enjoyed this sunshine. Squamish is defiantly all about doing and we intend to get in as many trails (on two legs and two wheels) as possible before our time here is at an end.
Squamish is also bear country and obviously my nervous disposition towards these fuzzy creatures threatened to put a dampener on our outdoor activities. However apart from seeing a wolf (well actually it was a big dog but our overactive imaginations ran away with us briefly) our hikes have been relaxing and scare free, apart from the strenuous uphill sections! Although I am now rummaging in our luggage to find the bear spray as I, once again, tempt fate with my writing! We have however seen our first black bear whilst staying in Squamish, but as luck would have it, we were watching it from the safety of our balcony.