Squamish’s nickname for tourist purposes is “the outdoor recreation capital of the world,” and you can do almost any outdoor activity you want there: scuba diving in the wreckage at Porteau Cove, rock-climbing, mountain biking, hiking, kite-surfing at the Spit, kayaking in the sound.
We primarily went there for rock-climbing purposes though of course my own plans for rock-climbing were thrown through a loop when I tore my ACL in February. So I spent about half the time with J and our other rock-climber friends who joined us out there, and half the time doing my own thing.
Hiking at Cheakamus Lake
I didn’t do any hard-core hiking (see torn ACL), but I did see some beautiful things while out walking on my own. I hiked down to Cheakamus Lake while the others were rock-climbing in Chek Canyon. It took about an hour from the trail-head to the lake, and the trail continued on for another hour, though I turned around at an hour and a half. The trees around Squamish are incredible, and the trails were extremely well maintained. Trees fall throughout the winter months in the forest.
This root bed was about two meters high.
And sometimes (very often) they fall across the trail.
Thanks, trail people, for sawing through a meter of tree for me.
Once down near the lake, the views were glorious.
First lookouts across the lake
Where this canoe came from, I don’t know. The lake was pristine.
Near the end
Another day, I read about a suspension bridge, and so hiked up along the Cheakamus River to get to it.
To be honest, I did not have the guts by myself to go further than about a third across it, since there was no one to make fun of me for being a wuss. But it was pretty impressive anyway.
Since the rock-climbers were such fans of Chek Canyon, I ended up also going to Brandywine Falls one day. It’s a short walk (15 minutes) but the falls are very impressive, a sheer 71-meter drop, and with little trails going one way and another, I spent about an hour there.
There were some views to be had as well.
I was the only one of us four to go swimming! I went to Alice Lake one day when it was very sunny out. There were two beach areas, and the lake is surrounded by mountains and forest, so you can soak in the view while cooling off in the water.
This new attraction was just finished last May. It’s expensive (C$32 if you buy your tickets online), but for me, it was worth it. J came with me. The gondola ride takes about ten minutes and takes you up to the mountain behind/above the Stawamus Chief, which is the most iconic and recognizable cliff in the Squamish area.
There are a few different things to do at the top: a few trails, a bar and cafe, a suspension bridge that’s just for fun because you can totally access everything through the trails.
On the way up
You can sort of see where we were headed.
This bridge I DID walk across because J was there to make fun of me for not doing it. Also, I suspect the distance to the ground was not as far. It hangs between two little buttes, not fully across the mountains or anything.
It was only about thirty meters to the forest below, not a full mountain.
We walked through the trails and saw the Chief from behind, where it looks miniscule. When you see it from the other side from the road, it’s very impressive.
The Chief from behind.
There were some other fancy look-outs installed on the trails.
We stopped at the bar for a beer and sweet potato fries.
All told, we spent about two hours there.
Going back down
Squamish is a major destination for rock-climbers in North America, with trad climbing (you stick things in the rock as you go up), sport climbing (the hooks are already in, like they are almost everywhere in France), and bouldering.
I hadn’t climbed since my ski accident, so I only did a very little bit of bouldering when J found boulders for me. The rating system in North America is from V0 to V14, and there were V0s, but the problem was that they were overgrown with moss because no one ever did them. Anyway, here are a few climbing pictures.
At Chek Canyon
Bouldering near the Chief
At Murrin Park
That hand is only on my butt to encourage me and break my fall.
What’s called a “high-ball”: bouldering that should not be called bouldering.
The Sea-to-Sky highway is a really beautiful drive, with lots of stunning look-outs.
Also Porteau Cove
Some other beautiful look-out
Squamish Estuary and the Spit
The Spit is the promontory near downtown Squamish where the kite-surfers and wind-surfers go. I went down there just to have a look one day and it was definitely windier than anywhere else in Squamish.
The Spit is right near the Squamish Estuary, where I was sort of hoping to see some big birds, but just saw a tiny snake.
The Chief from the estuary
Squamish downtown was small but sweet, with the excellent Howe Sound Brewery down at one end. Other highlights included the Zephyr Cafe, ClimbOn (rock-climbing store), and a little walk down on the water.
Some of the beers we drank (though we had them on tap)
The Chief from the water walk
We also spent one day in Vancouver, though I’ll save that for another post, because there are already a million pictures in this one. I really recommend Squamish as a vacation destination to anyone who enjoys scenery. I’m sure even if you’re not particularly outdoorsy, you can have a fantastic time given how beautiful it is there. But for anyone who likes any of these activities, it’s a sure win, and really conveniently located near the Vancouver airport. J and I really loved it, and are even toying with the idea of trying to spend a year or two in British Columbia in the future.