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.
“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.
I usually plan a road trip getaway for my birthday, discovering a new place with new faces. Although I am not the type of girl that craves attention on this occasion, but I do believe it is important to highlight the moment. For me, a simple adventure somewhere in nature with people I love is really all I need.
My day of birth is a special one in my life. Not because it is a time to celebrate, but it is to commemorate the day where I came out of my mother’s belly and breathed air for the first time. Life will always be the most special gift I could ever receive. To be thankful for such an event, I think it is necessary to take a moment to appreciate it.
Since my birthday falls right after the busy holiday season, it isn’t always easy to organize a trip away with friends. So this year, I decided to stay home, and instead embrace what is around me.
The morning of my birthday, we headed to the backcountry. The trailer park where I reside has a private access to the beautiful backcountry of Brandywine. So after breakfast, we strapped our boards on the snowmobile and sledded to the incredible Chocolate Bowl.
It was a blue bird day, no wind, and the weather was warm as the spring. Sledding in Whistler backcountry is always a treat. The terrain is so immense and pristine, so untrammeled and untouched.
I got dropped off at the highest peaks and, my board then strapped to my feet, I chose my lines, descending and sliding, surfing and carving on fresh champagne powder.
I looked up the sky. A bird flew from above, and disappeared in the infinite distance.
I was alone in the winterness, immersing into a quintessential wilderness.
I felt alive. I felt free.
When we returned, I prepared a Cesear bar in the snow at the trailer park. I had friends coming over when the sun went down, and we gathered around the bonfire, warming up on a cold winter night of January.
I never ask for presents on any occasions. Yet, I received many bottles of bubbles, cheeses, pepperonis, books, and loafs of homemade cheese bread. My friend even made an ice cream cake, knowing my dislikeness for regular spongy cake. To see all my favourite people around me, spoiling me with thoughtful gestures and gifts, I couldn’t be more happy.
After eating ice cream cake we packed the sleds once more and headed to a cabin in the backcountry for the night. Nestled in the middle of the wilderness, we popped all the bottles of champagne and celebrated the night away in a winter wonderland.
I could have not asked for a better celebration of life. Thanks to my dear friends, the wilderness and our endless craving for adventure.
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!
The season has changed, leaving place to the cool and crisp air of autumn. Summer has been absolutely crazy, in so many good ways, with work, and camping and adventuring every weekend. But I am now looking forward to quiet days at work, cozy wool sweater weather and wrapping my hands around hot teas and good books. But the one thing I really love the most about fall is the cool mornings and glorious sunny afternoons. I am looking forward to get outside and embrace the fresh autumn air with my dogs.
Even if many trails are open year-round, I find that autumn is the best season to hike: no crowds, no bugs, no heat. Plus, it’s the time of the year where nature wears its best colours and its unique fragrance. Here are 5 incredible hikes to do with your furry companions this fall in the Sea-to-Sky Corridor:
Skywalk Trail- NEW!
There is a new trail in town! Built by volunteers from The Alpine Club of Canada, The Skywalk Trail was completed at the end of August 2015 and offers a stunning and scenic hike that starts in Alpine Meadows and leads to the north of Rainbow Mountain. This 14km round-trip trail goes up along 19 mile creek, passing beautiful waterfalls before entering into alpine meadows resting at the foot of an ancient glacier. After scrambling over some rocks, the trail leads up to Iceberg Lake, a beautiful green opaque lake sitting at 1600m, with an ice cave resting on its shore. The trail goes further up to Screaming Cat Lake and loop back to the starting point.
While the trail is limited to foot traffic only, there haven’t been any restrictions for dogs. Remember to respect others by being a responsible owner and keep your dogs under control. Thank you to the volunteers at Alpine Club for this great job on building by hand this trail and offering us the privilege to explore our backyard in such a way. This is a true Whistler experience!
Located in the town of Squamish, the Stawamus Chief, commonly known by locals as The Chief, offers a steep but short 3-hour round trip hike atop of the 700 massive granite cliffs. There are 3 summits, the highest being at only 1.8km, all offering scenic views of Howe Sound and the town of Squamish. There is a lot of traffic on this trail and sections with steep cliffs, so always keep your pooch close by.
The Sea-to-Sky Trail runs 180km from the waterfront of Squamish all the way up to D’Arcy. There are many scenic spots to see along this non-motorized trail, from cascading waterfalls, to raging rivers, to suspended bridges, and pristine lake views. Wether you are biking, walking, running or hiking, your four-legged friend will be ecstatic to run beside you.
A very popular and must do hike. Joffe Lakes Provincial Park is situated north of Pemberton, up the Duffey Road. There are 3 lakes, the upper one located at 5 km. The trails are well-maintained and enjoyable to ascend, although the last part between Middle Lake and Upper Lake is a bit more challenging. The reward is worth the sweat: pristine turquoise waters and rugged Coast Mountain scenery. Your pooch will be happy to pose for a photograph with such a background.
Nestled near the Marriot Basin on an alpine bench, just a few minutes north of Joffre Lakes Provincial Park, Rohr Lake is a beautiful and uncrowded hike. It is an ideal environment for the dogs, where they can sprint through steep trees and run freely in the alpine meadows. The hike is short (3-4hours one-way) but steep, rough, rocky, muddy and wet. Also, due to the unpopularity of the hike, the trail isn’t well-marked, so read the direction properly before heading up. Rohr Lake is beautiful and clear, and the peacefulness of the place is worth every efforts.
Life on the road is absolutely exhilarating. But you can’t always be trotting from country to country eternally. You eventually have to go back home to recharge the battery and you soon fall back into routine. You feel trapped in normality and daydream of your next destination. But until you set sails and explore the whole wide world again, you have to remember that you also live in a place that is worth discovering and spending time in.
As my home base, I chose Whistler, a Canadian resort town located in the southern Pacific Ranges of the Coast Mountains of British Columbia. Living here is an outdoor lovers’ dream. Not only is Whistler known as one of the best skiiing destinations in the world, but it also offers many great lakes to fish, challenging mountains to hike, stunning waterfalls to photograph, wilderness grounds to camp, trails to run, hike and bike. The senses are pleased everyday with nature and it is a place of endless adventures.
This Sunday, my friend Cori and I planned a leisure walk to Brandywine Falls. This provincial park is situated south of Whistler in the Sea-to-Sky Corridor. There is access to the waterfalls from the parking lot, involving an easy and short walk. But ‘easy’ isn’t how we like to spend our Sundays, so we decided to begin our excursion in Whistler and walk the Sea-to-Sky Trail, just to spice things up a notch. The Sea-to-Sky Trail is a 180km wide dirt and gravel trail starting in Squamish and stretching all the way up to D’Arcy. It is great for biking and hiking, and offers scenic sights all along the way. We parked in the southern portion of Whistler, Function Junction, and accessed the trail from the road. Along with our 4 furry canine companions, we began our excursion. The sun filtered its soft light through the massive Douglas-Firs and Western Red Cedars and glittered with dew resting on their branches. We embraced the essence of nature as we meandered through the beautiful coastal forest. We crossed a couple of suspended bridges overlapping the Cheakamus River. We watched the crashing water flowing aggressively underneath our feet. As we approached our destination, strolling through a pine forest and lava beds, we could hear the roaring sounds of the water amplifying. When we arrived to the platform viewpoint, we admired the 66m waterfall thundering down the valley below. We cracked our bottle of bubbles and contemplated the water gushing from the abrupt cliff and the impressive gorge holding such a spectacle. As the rain peaked out of the clouds and cooled off our heating bodies, we packed our bags and headed back. We were sheltered by the thick trees standing strong and high and we ascended the winding trail. Our legs were burning and our conversations fading. Everytime we slowed the pace, all dogs rested in the moss, tongue out and reaching for air. We arrived at the car at dusk, soaked and muddy, with the greatest smile of satisfaction. Our leisure walk ended up being a 25km adventure hike. This excursion reminded me how fortunate I am to be living in a place of such natural beauties.
You don’t always need to fly to satisfy your wanderlust. Whether you live in a city, on a coastal town or in the mountains, your home has hidden gems ready to be discovered. You can apply the spirit of travel at home, by simply being mindful and aware of what is around you. Open yourself to your surroundings, be curious, and have an adventurous mind. By appreciating the little things, and embracing the challenges, you become part of the beauty. And that’s the most wonderful adventure of all!
I have been adventuring a lot lately, discovering dirt roads, camping new grounds, surfing new waves, hiking new peaks. But this time, for my friend Julie’s birthday, I decided it would be nice to get a little less dirty, and a little more sassy.
Starting off the day with a scenic flight to Vancouver from Whistler aboard one of Harbour Air‘s float planes, seemed like the ideal start to a day of indulgences. So on Saturday morning, after breakfasts of delicious omelettes and mimosas on the patio of Table Nineteen, at Nicklaus North Golf Course, we boarded our Beaver aircraft.
We took off from the calm glacier-fed waters of Green Lake and flew over the town of Whistler, hugging the mountains of Whistler and Blackcomb. As we ascended in a cloudless sky, we noticed below the familiars: the lakes we swim, the trails we hike, the roads we drive. I even spotted my house!
As we travelled south towards the big city, we looked upon the magnificent Stawamus Chief, a granite dome towering over 700m above water. Ahead laid a picturesque image of the majestic Howe Sound.
We approached Vancouver, and admired the sailboats soaking in the sun in the Burrard Inlet, between the city and the North Shore Mountains. We commenced our descent in the downtown’s harbour, where we glimpsed at the spectacular Lions Gates Bridge on our right, and two massive cruise ships on our left, preparing to set sail to Alaska. Our eyes were pleased with splendors, and our hearts filled with joy and gratitude.
Once we landed in Vancouver’s downtown, we decided to rent bicycles and play tourists for the day. We pedaled around the famous Stanley Park‘s SeaWall, a 9km waterfront paved path, looping around the urban park. We paused for a quick refreshment where we made friends with geese grazing on grasses in the field.
After a couple hours of cycling and wandering, it felt right to head to a nail spa to rest, relax and simply get pampered. We went to Robson Nail & Spa where we had “manis & pedis” while sitting comfortably in a massage chair and sipping on green tea.
After our beauty treatments, we walked up Robson Street. We chose Ebisu for dinner where we splurged on delicious cocktails and wine and regaled on very unique sushis.
With our palates pleased and our bellies satisfied from a great meal, we headed to our hotel room at Executive Hotel Le Soleil, a 4-diamond luxurious boutique hotel located in the heart of downtown, a complimentary birthday gift from a friend of Julie’s. We popped champagne and cheered for a spectacular day of indulgences.
We live in a world where we tend to spend more time working than living, and find ourselves guilty of forgetting to take care of our own heart, mind and body. Never forget to reward yourself occasionally. Whether they are daily little pleasures, or sporadic extravagant expenditures, pampering ourselves allows us to re-emerge into our daily routines with extra confidence, boosted self-esteem, and increased energy. Not only does pampering enhance our inner glow, but it also makes us feel special and worthy. Every boy deserves to be spoiled once in a while and every girl deserves to feel like a princess from time to time. So go ahead and pamper yourself, not only because you deserve it, but because you are worth it!
500 weeks ago, I headed west aboard a Greyhound bus on the Trans Canada Highway, bringing along a poor English, a backpack, a snowboard and just a few dollars in my pockets. After spending the summer by the sea in Victoria, BC, working at a Yögen Früz to learn a second language, I migrated to the city. However, the crowdedness of the streets, the continuous autumn rain and the stressful lifestyle wasn’t for me. I travelled north of Vancouver for a day, to explore a magical town that I heard so much about. Indeed dreamy, lively and chummy, I found myself immersed in a bubble of eternal smiles where people actually…lived. I met a group of local residents, a few of them also from Quebec, and soon enough we clicked and exchanged numbers. And this is where it all started…
On October 13th, 2003, I packed my bags and headed towards Whistler. A week earlier, I have accepted an invitation to rent a room at these locals’ house. I barely knew them, had no idea where it was located, but I knew I was going to move to Whistler. I found myself sharing a room in a garage with a stranger and paying the full price of $450 a month. The basement suite was old and dated. The wooded walls were dusty, the rooms were dark and the carpet moldy… It was perfect! I was so happy to be there that nothing could stop my ecstatic joy.
At 19 years old, I have found my paradise, on my own, away from home, in the unknown. I was the happiest girl. I got a job right away cleaning luxurious homes and working on the mountain serving chilly potatoes to hungry skiers and snowboarders from all around the world. While friends at home started university, I started my own. It could not have been a better English immersion. It could not have been better life lessons. I lived in million dollar homes, I snowboarded the best terrain in the world, I met inspiring people. I became part of the movement: the young at heart, the free spirits, the gypsies of the world. I made friends that became my family, I matured up and evolved, I became fluent and I live life at the fullest.
I remember when we used to gather around the steps of Moguls warming up on each other’s mountain stories of the day. I remember feeding on Raman noodles and 0.99$ loafs of bread and 8-packers of Pilsner. I remember the 50cm powder days, waking up at 5am to be the first in the line-up and getting stuck all day. I remember the people that came and then left, but always returned. I remember the ones that stayed and became the wonderful family I have today.
Now, 10 years later, I look back at all those years that went by. I am so thankful for having found such a perfect bubble nestled in paradise. A place to call my home. Thanks to all of those that helped me through this journey, the ones that tagged along, the ones that inspired. Thanks to the community who made me feel like a human, with passions to follow, dreams to pursue. And thanks to the mountains, the ones that gave me fresh air to breathe, hills and trees to ride, magical snowflakes to fall from the sky. You made me feel alive.
I might not be on your ground at the moment, but I raise my Moroccan tea in your honor. Cheers to you Whistler, and thanks for the good ride.
Note: I apologize for any mistakes, this is written on an iPhone with a poor Moroccan Internet connection.
Summer has been magnificent so far with suns sparkling the forecast everyday and warm, pleasant temperatures reaching 30˚C each afternoon. Rain was needed and so it did for a couple of days, just enough to soak the dryness of the forest and revive the grass and trees of their pure lush greens.
It is wildflower season and it is the perfect time to undertake a hike. There are so many wonderful options here in the Sea-to-Sky corridor, from Squamish to D’arcy, from short easy hikes, to strenuous day hikes, to multi-day hikes. Unfortunately, most of them are part of provincial parks, like Garibaldi Park, or are drinking water supply areas so dogs are not allowed on the trails. There are also regulations for camping and swimming at certain spots. Make sure you read all signs and recommendations before you start your alpine excursion.
I called Claudel on Friday morning and see if she could come up from Squamish and meet me in Whistler. I haven’t seen her in a while and I missed her down-to-earth, calm and wise personality. She is also a huge nature lover and studies Fish, Wildlife and Recreation at BCIT. She is the perfect partner for this hiking mission. She agreed to meet me on Monday morning.
We decided to go to the Rainbow Lake Trail, a 16km round-trip hike reaching 850m in 8km. We also decided to bring the dogs, as you are allowed to do so until the intake and then you have to maintain them on leash (I would’ve felt guilty otherwise to sweat for 16km without my dogs).
We travelled up the trail through a forest of Western Red Cedars, Black Spruces, Lodgepole Pines, Douglas firs and Western Hemlocks, traversing wooden platforms over marshlands. The essence of nature was fresh and earthy. Claudel stopped here and there, picking up wild ginger from the soil and identifying some leaves and pieces of bark from the trees.
The well-marked trail was easy to follow and was also well-maintained. However, the mosquitos and flies kept sticking to our sudor as soon as we paused to catch our breath. So we continued moving at a steady pace (gosh I’m not in shape!).
We passed a beautiful waterfall where we stopped in the breeze and let our drinking water slide through our dehydrated throats. Half way there!
After perspiration, bug bites, heart pumping and thighs burning, we arrived to our destination. We have reached the summit and found the tranquil alpine lake peacefully resting in the middle of a garden of wildflowers, surrounded by mountains peeking through a baldachin forest.
We ended up spending 3 hours atop, laying in a bed of wildflowers sipping on rewarding mimosas between buzzes of bugs and bees. We conversed about life: the things we have accomplished, the things we want to achieve. Life surely goes by fast and there is so much left to undertake. And that Monday of late July we attained that summit.
Just like life, a little of determination, courage and commitment can bring you to the top. Keep pushing yourself, even if it itches. It’s never supposed to be easy. Don’t give up, because once you arrive on top, you know you have succeeded. And that feeling is unique to yourself, because only you know how hard you worked for it. Enjoy it. Embrace it. And don’t forget to smell the roses along way 😉
What to pack:
Lunch (sandwich, fruits, granola bar, nuts, etc.)
* Don’t forget you only want to pack the necessary. It might be a long haul. However, always leave room for the sparkling 😉
What to wear:
Good hiking shoes
Information websites and lists of trails in the Sea-to-Sky Corridor: