Squamish-ed: A Spring Recap

Recap and stuff…

One coastal British Columbia city, one month. Oh, the possibilities. Of course, it was April, so there were still limits, even in lovely Squamish. Like hiking anywhere higher than about 700 metres above sea level, since that is about as far up as the snow had melted so far. Not that we are fundamentally opposed to hiking in the snow, I mean, we did it practically everyday around Invermere. It’s just that A) with warmer weather, avalanche season was in full swing, and B) we were kind of tired of it.

Luckily, Squamish has loads of other options, most of which remain pretty close to sea level (or Howe Sound level, to be specific) and comfortably below the snow line. Plus, the place is riddled with lakes, islands, viewpoints and rivers (well, maybe just 2 rivers – somehow no matter how far we travelled in any direction we were always either on the Mamquam or Cheakamus). All told, we ended up doing 22 different hikes in our 28 days, so yeah, I’d say there were a few good trails.

I did a little biking, although probably not nearly enough considering Squamish is one of the top mountain biking destinations in Canada. What that really means, though, is that it has an incredible number of truly ridiculous trails. And by “ridiculous”, I mean insanely difficult and more suited to daredevils (do people still identify as daredevils?) than casual summer bikers like myself. In more than one area we came across rickety wooden ramps with 5-10-metre gaps/drops/death zones or faint trails that appeared to lead down 10-metre high vertical rock faces. At the Whistler Train Wreck one trail actually leads up, across and off the end of a capsized rail car. And that was far from the wildest. I could hardly fathom how may of them would work, let alone try them. I very much enjoyed my easy jaunt along the river, though (much less the long, steep climb on the logging road at Cat Lake that abruptly reached a dead end).

We always had high hopes for April weather on the coast, especially considering we found November to February “pretty much fine”. Even within the mild parameters of Squamish spring, however, we think we got particularly lucky as, after a little bit of early rain (and even a light skiff of snow) we enjoyed 2 straight weeks with nothing but warm days and sunny skies. To the point I even had to break out the sunscreen (twice, and very lightly, easing into it). I had a sudden “summer!” moment, too, when I woke up to the sound of somebody mowing their lawn. If there had just been a couple crows squawking up the joint and the sound of my mom washing something or other on the deck, I could have been fooled into thinking I was at the cabin at Waskesiu. Summer moment #2: topless sunbathers at Brohm Lake. Then, not summer related, but weird nonetheless, was overhearing some guy sounding strangely thrilled/proud to tell some stranger that two of his family members had died of COVID. And another was very sick. Congrats?

Brohm Lake

The townhouse we rented for the month was a bit of a splurge, although that was mostly just in comparison to some of the amazing deals we found in other parts of BC (Peachland and Courtenay, notably), since Squamish prices – to rent, buy or probably even look at – are quickly reaching that “out of control” level, the kind where sellers receive multiple offers over asking. So even though we spent more than normal for us, we were happy to luxuriate in the modern 3-story “passive house”. Apparently that term actually means it is environmentally neutral, not that it will just sit idly by if I get attacked by a cougar. Plus, it had a top floor balcony with a mountain view and (downstairs) a sectional couch (that now sports a Laynni-shaped dent, probably for eternity).

We almost went paddleboarding (so close!)  – had the board half blown up and everything, then realized we forgot the paddle. Regrets.

Overall, though, these were the main highlights of our stay:

“The Chief” hike – a strenuous climb up featuring stairs, rocks, roots, scrambling, ladders and chains to reach three different viewpoints, all of which were amazing.

Bowen Island – another outstanding viewpoint after hiking up to the panoramic summit of Mount Gardner, plus a bunch of good beaches, a lighthouse, a bayside burrito and a short hike to a mysterious, hidden driftwood mastodon. Not your average day trip.

A misty morning at Mamquam Falls.

Mamquam River Squamish BC

Laynni dragged me rather reluctantly along on a cherry blossom tour around Vancouver but by the end I was running around from tree to tree, giddy as a, I don’t know, tree lover, I guess, taking photo after photo of the amazing pink blossoms. Don’t judge me until you see the photos. Or at least this one.

Shannon Falls Upper Pools – after doing little (or no) research, we were a bit shocked to see just how steep and tricky this hike was after the leisurely stroll to the main Shannon Falls viewing areas, featuring a bunch more climbing, scrambling and rappelling ropes (made even more difficult for Laynni as she happened to choose this moment to debut her very first live TikTok). Also not too shabby were Crooked Falls and Brandywine Falls.

Cliff jumping at Lions Bay. Of course, saying that makes it sound like we went cliff jumping at Lions Bay. Which we did not. But we did watch a bunch of young Hispanic guys goad each other into swinging off the edge of a ridiculous cliff on a ridiculously ratty rope swing before letting go to plummet 15-20 metres to an occasionally violent water landing. Then a couple of them kind of lost their zest for the idea after one guy landed flat on his back. Loudly.

Cliff jumping at Lions Bay BC

Lilloet Lake – just a nice, reflective lake surrounded by mountains. Even though these are surprisingly easy to find in BC, they still never fail to impress.

Lilloet Lake

Tunnel Bluffs viewpoint – a really popular spot but phenomenal views of Howe Sound.

Tunnel Bluffs viewpoint BC

Red Heather Hut hike – over 10 kilometres on hard-packed snow several feet deep (the only snow-bound hike of our time in Squamish – Laynni gave it a hard pass). With spikes on the hiking was fine and the blue sky and mountain views from the side of Round Mountain on yet another gorgeous, sunny day were spectacular and well worth the effort, even if I somehow never actually found the alleged hut.

Also, before all these Squamish adventures we spent a week in Maple Ridge, just east of Vancouver, as a filler stop based on availability, etc. Turned out to be a very nice stay as well, although the basement suite AirBnB was kind of weird (alarm that beeped upstairs anytime we opened the door and a rather large dog that was occasionally in the backyard and did not like us, not one bit, and wasn’t about to let us come up the stairs). We did some nice hikes in Golden Ears Provincial Park, a few walks around town among the burgeoning spring colours and, obviously, saw some waterfalls because, you know, it’s BC. That’s what you do. Oh, and we did a hike to Teapot Hill, on a trail that has dozens of teapots hidden/placed in the trees along the way. Yeah, it was weird. And even the locals (those on TikTok, anyway) can’t seem to agree if it is cool, kitschy or just litter.

Then, at the end, we scrapped plans for a leisurely route home, spending a few extra days in the mountains (different ones, anyway), after the BC government came out and said, not in so many words, that fun was being outlawed for the foreseeable future. Understandable, of course, but, hey, we can just as easily do nothing at home. So off we went, covering 1,700 kilometres in 3 days, enjoying the amazing scenery along Highway 99 (Sea to Sky Highway) and Highway 97 (from Kamloops to Jasper) with a one-night stop in Clearwater where we managed to squeeze in 3 quick (yet very impressive) waterfall stops, and another night in Edmonton where we briefly graced Adrienne and Cam’s backyard before returning to the Chateau Motel which, despite the confusing attempt at a grand name, did not live up to the hype (or just basic minimum hotel standards, really).

Bottom line: we are happy to be home, although we wouldn’t have been heartbroken to stay awhile longer. The long drive home was basically an exercise in watching lush green slowly transform to dusty brown, hour by hour. Oh, c’mon Saskatoon, don’t take it personally, surely you know you’re hideous when you first wake up from winter. You really don’t look like yourself until you’ve had a couple showers and the City of Saskatoon road crews are set up on every main street in the city. It’s only a matter of time now…

Now, to finish off with a few Squamish headlines:

Topless Woman on Snowy Hiking Trail More Weird Than Provocative

Dropped Orange Tumbling Off Tunnel Bluffs Cliff “Not Coming Back”, Disappointed Man Concludes

Sign Depicting Dog Taking a Shit Makes Simple Man Laugh Every Time

Cliff Jumping Aborted After Testicles Invert at Mere Thought

Man Defiantly Maskless in Save-On Foods Stocks Up on Ponytail Holders

Shirtless Man Posing on Chief Viewpoint Seems Really Aware of His Nipples

Weird Plant on Shelf Not Looking Too Good, Confirms Man Fourth Week in a Row

Black Diamond “Difficult” Mountain Bike Trail Much Better in Theory, Confirms Not So Brave Man

Beefy Burrito Pretty Beefy, All Right

Alberta in April Pretty Bleak, Notices Man from Saskatchewan of All Places

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Other useful articles you may want to check out:

The Best and Worst of Squamish Camping

Big Damp Trees: A West Coast Recap

Swoosh, Swoosh: That’s Me, Skiing in Invermere

Bowen Island Hiking

9 Reasons to Visit Porteau Cove

Day Hike Packing List

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