Whistler is home to untouched powdery terrain, high alpine bowls and extensive natural playgrounds that we get to enjoy during our beautiful winters. To celebrate another wonderful season, here are a few snowboarding clips taken earlier this year.
An army of cars filled with vacationers carrying summer toys such as mountain bikes and leisure crafts tied atop their roofs hurried north on the Sea-to-Sky highway towards the recreational town of Whistler. As for us, we drove south on the empty lane heading to a secluded island. Boat tied up behind the truck, trunk glutted of camping gear, food and drinks and off we were to the ocean on a beautiful Saturday morning.
The gleaming and opaque turquoise waters of the fjord of Howe Sound screamed attention when we arrived at the boat launch. The clouds amassed around the mountains aground and a blue sky slowly appeared above the water, behind strings of white veils. The south breeze brought a moist and salty feeling to my skin. We cruised west on the ocean, reaching the beautiful islands of the coast. A white seagull glided above. My dogs, ears flapping in the wind, held tight in the front bow as we cut through the surf.
The islet was a pure treasure: a rocky landform erecting from the ocean, away from traffic, everyday chaos, buzzing cars, duties and responsibilities, home to only birds and bees, wildflowers and trees.
I stood on the edge of the sun-warmed rock, facing the waves crashing below. Two dark birds with orange beaks chirped at me, possibly guarding a nest of eggs nearby. A couple of curious sea lions fishing for Spring salmon spied in my direction while circling the island, dark black eyes and shiny noses above water, whiskers tickling the air. Sometimes they roared at each other, playfully leaping and porpoising through the water.
It was so quiet and peaceful. I could only hear the melody of the ocean breeze through the trees, the waves passing by, the birds chirping and the sea lions splashing. It’s almost as if I could hear the clouds whispering. I closed my eyes and raised my snout to the sky. I inhaled the incoming tide and took deep breaths of fresh salty air. I felt my respiratory tracks opening, my lungs expanding. I sensed the ocean water slicking my face, humidifying my hair. I tasted the aroma of the sea deposited on my lips. The seaweed and small shells under my feet felt gooey and sharp, but as soon as I dipped my toes in the ocean water, I was relieved of all pain and worries.
I felt that I was right where I was supposed to be. In the midst of an incomprehensible wild beauty, amongst mountains and sea. It was like a perfect dream, the one you never want to wake from. But it was my reality, happening right at that moment, and I fell deeply in love with it. It was raw, it was pure, it was terrifyingly beautiful.
“There is no bad weather, just inappropriate clothing.”
Some people tend to find inconvenience under atmospheric precipitation. They fear to get wet, to get cold, to soak their hair, to ruin their makeup, to get lost in the fog, or to be drown in sadness. Of course I am not talking about getting outdoors during a severe natural disaster. I’m insinuating getting outside and benefitting from the fresh air while the sky is grey, the temperature is chill and raindrops fall from the clouds. We don’t need to be kids to fill in warm clothes, a waterproof jacket and rubber boots. Adults can also find amusement in jumping in puddles and mud under a drizzle or a heavy downpour. At least, I do. I enjoy those simple pleasures and as childish as it sounds, it makes me happy: It makes me present in the moment.
February has been a rather rainy month in the Sea-to-Sky Corridor with chill winter air sweeping through the valley. Warmer days are in the forecast, and since spring is around the corner, with unpredictable weather, it’s important to remember that it is not a rainy winter day that should cancel our outdoor adventures. I made a list of 5 free winter outdoor activities you can do in the Sea-to-Sky Corridor on a rainy day :
The Sea-to-Sky Country offers 5 stunning waterfalls: Shannon Falls, Brandywine Falls, Alexander Falls, Rainbow Falls, and Nairn Falls. Most of them are just a short hike from the parking lots, allowing you to wind through magical and impressive rainforests before accessing impressive rushing and crashing cascades. There is nothing I like more than walking through a forest under the rain. There is something so soothing about the sound of the rain falling through the tall trees, the freshness of the air and the scent of the earth soaking every drop. There is something so relaxing and purifying about standing at the bottom of a waterfall, breathing the pure air, and feeling the mist of the water pouring vigorously in front of us.
Squamish welcomes a significant number of wintering bald eagles from all over the Pacific Northwest each year. They congregate along the Squamish and Cheakamus Rivers to feed on salmon carcasses. It is a great spectacle to observe them perched in the trees, or flying gracefully above the water. The large gathering of eagles is prominent from December to March.
We are spoiled with two incredible, natural and road-accessible hot springs. Key Hole Hot Springs are found 100 km from Whistler, down Pemberton Meadows and up the Upper Lillooet Service Road. Sloquet Hot Springs are located about 142km from Whistler, and most of the drive is on the In-Shuck-Ch Forest Service Road, a gravel road along Lillooet Lake (be aware that snow might cover the road up to Sloquet. Watch the road conditions before you head up). What’s better than to soak in the warmth of mineral-rich pools, tucked into the wilderness, while the rain falls over your head.
If you have a cross-country bike, you are up for a treat. The Sea-to-Sky Corridor has an extensive trail network to explore, rain or shine. Squamish has the best spots to bike in the winter, due to its lack of snow at lower elevation. While mostly sheltered by the thick trees, you can find challenge in pedaling up and down muddy and wet surfaces. There is something cleansing about biking under the rain through the rainforest. A sense of pure joy and freedom.
If you can’t find any friends willing to embrace the rain with you, why not drop in at your local shelter and see the possibility to walk a dog? Dogs don’t complain about being wet or cold. They wear the warm fur and will wag their tail at the idea of playing in puddles and mud with you. Not only does it allow you to get outside and get some fresh air, but you are also helping a furry friend to stretch its legs. Dog shelters welcome responsible dog lovers to apply as volunteers and drop in to take a dog for a walk.
In 2015, I chose not to travel overseas in order to save money and focus on other projects. It was a tough decision, since I have been travelling around the globe annually for the past 14 years. It was something I had to do, in order to financially get back on track and work on my future. But not travelling doesn’t mean not exploring. I am fortunate to live in an area that offers such an incredible playground. So at the beginning of the year, I challenged myself in doing at least 20 adventures around the beautiful Pacific North West.
#19. Night iceskating under the full moon at Joffre Lakes.
But the most amazing adventure of the year:
#20. I bought my first home (on wheels)! I am now living off the grid, a lifestyle I’ve always dreamt about.
It is important to pause once in a while and look what’s around us. We don’t always have to travel across the globe to explore new paths and be treated with incredible views. Beauties are within reach and waiting to be discovered. And sometimes, it is the people who tag along, our home buddies, furry friends or family that make the journey worth of all beauties.
I am excited for 2016. I am well-rested, projects in hand and ready to move mountains! I wish you all a safe journey to the new year, filled with new beginnings, new dreams and new adventures!
When the adventure is calling, you need to listen. Whether it is the wanderlust kicking in, a thirst for an unusual experience, or an immediate urge to escape, adventuring is the best way to disconnect from your daily routine, and reconnect with yourself.
This week, Julie and I decided to leave the Vancouver Coast & Mountains and drive north on Highway 99 towards the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast.
We left Whistler at dusk, with a car packed with camping gear and supplies, two excited dogs and a canoe strapped atop. We drove north on the open road with no fixed plans, just a map, and a snow storm in the forecast.
As we approached the pioneer village of Pemberton, we glimpsed at the sun slowly rising from behind the impressive peaks of Mt-Currie. The road carved through the indian reserve, following the Lillooet River. We drove along the shoreline of Lillooet Lake before climbing the winding Duffey road. We could feel the cool coastal air and noticed leftover snow glittering on the pavement.
The road stretched through the southern boundary of the Cayoosh Range, with no signs of civilization, just nature resting quietly in cold air. We felt the air warming up as we approached the dry climate of Lillooet. We kept going on the rugged road meandering through steep cliffs and towering peaks.
On our left side, we perceived a splash of bright blue nestling in between majestic mountains. Seton Lake is a freshwater fjord on Cayoosh Creek, near the confluence of the Seton and Fraser Rivers. It stretches for 27km and is known as one of the deepest lakes in British Columbia. Seton Portage Historic Provincial Park is a popular recreational destination allowing its visitors to fish, swim, boat, and hike. The lake is also part of a hydro electric project.
We had a snack on the beach, allowing the dogs to stretch their legs. We contemplated the incredible blue hues of the glacial-fed lake and the majestic mountains framing perfect scenery.
We pursued our drive up to Lillooet, a small community on the Fraser River, at an intersection of deep gorges. Rich in history and culture, this little town is also home to an abundance of wildlife, unspoiled mountains, lakes, and valleys.We continued through the Gold Rush Trail, driving along scenic panoramic views of wide benchlands and the mighty Fraser Canyon dropping abruptly through narrow rock gorges and flanked by high cliffs.
We arrived in early afternoon at Marble Canyon Provincial Park.The canyon is known to be a rare geological formation in BC. It is created from a collapsed karst formation, and a microcrystalline limestone bedrock. The drive is gripping and with the dry climate it really feels like a place far away from home. We drove pass Pavilion Lake, where we admired the vibrant shades of blues and greens formed by a colony of microbialites. We kept driving and arrived at a small campground between Turquoise and Crown Lake. No one was there, perhaps still early for camping season, and bit brisk and windy. That meant that we had the lake to ourselves! Perfect! We unloaded the canoe and loaded it up with our gear. We headed for a beach on the other side of Crown Lake where we set up a waterfront camp.
We faced west, and admired the golden light reflecting on the Chimney Rock amongst the limestone cliffs erecting steeply in front of us. The water was intensively green and clear. This was the perfect setting. We had snacks on the beach and admired our surroundings.
When camp was set, we boarded the canoe and explored the lake. Julie noticed a waterfall on our left, so we beached and hiked towards our find.
We followed a narrow trail that climbed the steep mountainside and found a small cave. We sat inside, our feet dangling off the cliff and contemplated the beauties laying ahead as the sun set.
We spent the night bundled up by the fire, telling stories of life and watching a moon crossing a starry sky. The mountains reflected perfectly on a serene lake. There was no snow nor storm on the horizon, just 2 girls, 2 dogs, and a perfect setting, embracing every moment, and collecting memories.
Adventuring gives us the opportunity to find beautiful places, wander and get lost in them. Take risks, live dangerously, adventure often, explore more, never stop wondering and wandering, create a path and leave a trail. It’s okay not knowing where we are going, as long as we keep learning along the way, and embrace every moment we meet.