Published: September 3rd 2009September 2nd 2009
Oh my god. What an incredible place, i mean what an absolutely spectacular place. Once again, as seems to be the pattern in Canada i stayed longer than intended in a place. After chatting to a swiss chap i met on Vancouver Island i was given the details of a hostel in the most idyllic location you could possibly imagine. The decking out the back was merely 5 metres from a huge lake surrounded by mountains with hints of the once snow capped peaks still remaining.
Whistler was originally a planned day trip however, on hearing about this hostel it was extended to a night stay, and on arrival extended once more to two nights. I still left very disgruntled i didn't have the time to stay longer, but I will certainly return there at some point in the future.
Whistler Village itself has a very strange feel to it, seemingly in its own little laid back bubble where time is no object and people walk around with a dazed grin on their face so blatantly happy to be in such an amazing place. I didn't have time to admire this on arrival however as i had to get
one of only 4 buses that leaves the village to get to the hostel every day, which involved running with my huge backpack on....fun. I got chatting to a swiss girl, Nadia, on the bus journey out to the hostel after discovering she was staying there too. After dumping our things at the hostel we decided to walk back into the village (about 45mins walk) then head out on a walk around the surrounding area through forests and around lakes. We found a particularly stunning lake called Lost Lake which ended our planned walk there and then as we decided to take a dip to cool off due to the weather being perfect as seems to be the case generally at the moment. We then relaxed in the sun for a good couple of hours before we wandered lazily back to the village stopping momentarily to watch a woodpecker search for food in the trees lining the footpath.
Back at the hostel, as with the village, there were friendly people aplenty and conversation was very easy with anyone and everyone. A pool table was in the common room for everyone to use, adjacent to huge windows looking out the
back to the lake. This was used for the evenings entertainment and we ended up teaching a nice japanese guy how to play as he had never played before. I also chatted to a top canadian bloke from the East Coast who let us know about some great hikes located at the top of whistler mountain and gave us a map of them all. Needless to say i was sold, as was Nadia, so our plan for the next day was set.
It was a worrying start to the second day as i was awoken by heavy rain and thunderstorms during the night....so much for that beautiful weather. It was not too bad by the time i got up but it was still raining a little, and to our utter dismay the chap behind the desk at the hostel informed us they may close off the mountain as more thunderstorms were possible (in the past this had caused forest fires). At this point i should explain that the way hiking on the mountain worked was you purchase a lift pass and then take a gondola to the top of Whistler Mountain and then you can hike around until your
heart is content. Luck was on our side as the day got progressively better and the gondola's opened a little later than the usual 10am start, but nevertheless after a 15-20min ride they got us to the top which we were both ecstatic about. I twisted Nadia's arm into taking on one of the black trails (the hardest ones) which required us to take a chair lift slightly higher still. On reaching the top of the second lift we headed to where the trail was due to start, turns out it was hidden behind a massive rock sculpture and began by traversing down a massive cliff face whilst holding on to metal chains to steady ourselves. What a start!!! In many parts the trail was so impossible to see you had to just guess where it was headed, and on occasion there would be a small green sign showing a picture of a hiker (often propped up between two rocks) to give you a vague direction to head in. The pathway was pretty empty of people which was good as we didn't want too much noise to scare off any wildlife. 'Wildlife' turned out to be a small rodent type
thing called a Hoary Marmot which we saw a couple of and a couple of different birds. Unfortunately we didn't see any bears although it was supposed to be a popular area for black bears.
Every corner we turned or peak we clambered over led to an even more breath taking view so the cameras were out a very large proportion of the time. Once we had made it to Little Whistler Peak we sat on the top and had some lunch whilst admiring the whole area from over 2km above sea level. Although there was some cloud cover below us the sun was out and the temperature was perfect for hiking. Once we had completed our first hiking trail loop in about 1/2 the time the map suggested it would take we headed off on another big loop. This was made up of a couple of moderate trails and a couple more harder ones. We had done so well on the previous trail but we had a small hitch on this one. We were following what turned out to be the right track, but after not seeing a hiking sign for a while coupled with the fact that
the mountain lake we were supposed to be passing seemed more like a large puddle, i decided we had gone wrong so took us slightly 'off piste' to find another trail, which i did. However, we ended up getting a little lost for a short while but managed to find a road that took us back to the gondola the other trail would have led us to anyway. In the end we totalled probably about 4 hours of hiking around the various mountain peaks which was absolutely incredible. We finished the day by catching the 'Peak to Peak' gondola which took us on about a 15 minute ride over to Blackcomb mountain peak. We took a couple more photos from Blackcomb peak before getting a couple of chair lifts back to the bottom. What a day, i can confidently say that it was the best day i have had on my travels so far. I absolutely loved every second of it, the hiking was challenging, the views were extroadinary and the weather ended up being perfect again.
I have since returned to Vancouver today for one last night before finally leaving for Seattle tomorrow. I will be sad to
see the back of Canada as it has shown me some fantastic things, but i have no doubt i will come back to explore it further at a later date. I am looking forward to the USA now and if it can offer me half of the things i have seen on my hikes here in Canada i will be absolutely over the moon.
There are more photos below