Looking for adventure during my trip to Vancouver I decided on a whim to drive to Squamish and along the way discovered the Sea to Sky gondola.
My original destination was Squamish, but to be honest it felt a little disappointing with many shops closed and for lease signs in their windows…
However, the one saving grace to my hour long drive was the magnificent scenery.
Not only was it spectacular along the Sea to Sky highway (yep, that’s what its called) but it also reminded me of the drive from Como to Bellagio in Italy.
The tight, and sometimes blind corners around the edge of a cliff…
Pretty amazing drive, that alone was worth it. Plus you have the most incredible snow capped mountain peaks as your every vista!
After spending some time exploring Squamish I decided to check out the Sea to Sky gondola that I had noticed on my way into town.
Given that I was already on my way back to Vancouver, this would be a perfect opportunity to drop by. It’s a 24 km drive to the Sea to Sky gondola from Squamish.
Given that it was a bright sunny day I just knew it would be spectacular!
Originally opened in March 2014, it had been closed recently for six months due to tampered cables. Now fully repaired and operational it’s clearly still getting back on its feet.
Given the recent reopening it was fortunate for me as there were only a handful of cars in the parking lot. :-).
Yeah, strangely no one likes crowds and hordes of tourists…even the tourists!
Now I want to set your expectations…its not cheap.
The single, return adult fare is $47.95 + tax = $54.18, and for a family of four it’s $115.95 + tax = $131.02
However, if you factor in the adventure value of this little jaunt then the price is well worth it.
There was no snow at the bottom of the mountain, but as the gondola sped the 12 minutes to the top, the snow became increasingly deeper. At least 12 – 18 inches at the top of the mountain.
Some of it fresh in the preceding 24 hours.
It’s almost impossible to put into words the sheer beauty at the peak of the sea to sky gondola.
There are two viewing platforms that overlook Howe Sound and the impressive mountain ranges that seemingly surround you.
The first platform is adjacent to where you get off the gondola, the second is on a nearby ridge.
However, to get to the second platform you must take the suspension bridge between the two ridges.
Some 120 meters in length and somewhat “bouncy”, it’s not for the faint of heart. Especially if you don’t like heights. Just sayin…
Actually I’m not a fan of heights, but for some reason I felt completely safe on the bridge.
I must admit I was fortunate as it truly was a spectacular day and perfect for being at the top of the mountain. And the views…wow!!!
After taking a ton of photos from the view platforms on both ridges my attention turned to the potential hikes.
I decided on hiking the Panorama Trail to the Chief viewing platform some 1.6 km away.
For those of you that don’t know, the Chief is one of the most dominating geographic features along the Sea to Sky highway.
It is a world renowned hiking and climbing destination with a mix of trails and difficulties.
Fortunately I was on an opposing peak looking over the Chief and not actually hiking it…
I had my winter boots but not my hiking boots (what was I thinking?).
The snow was deep and well trodden, and so very slippery if you were on the undulating trail itself.
To compensate, as you do, I hiked along the edge of the trail in the snow to get some traction.
It was a warm afternoon and the snow dripped from the sunlight trees as I hiked the thickly wooded trail.
There were a number of others on the path that were slipping and sliding and so I suggested that they walk on the edge…hey, but what do I know. 🙂
The platform juts out over the cliff some 15 metres with only room for two people at a time, but the views were sensational. Well worth the hike!
Catching the gondola down I ended up in a car with two guys who eyed me suspiciously. Actually, they were looking at my camera and belt.
He enquired how liked my Sony RX10. Okay, clearly this guys knows his cameras I thought to myself. 🙂
My initial perception was that they would likely be unfriendly, but what actually happened was that the trip down turned into a really great conversation about cameras and photography.
Apparently his business partner is an avid outdoor photographer and he’d been exposed to all his equipment and accoutrements and so was curious.
Such an unexpected conversation as he told me about where to find the best wildlife shots including bald eagles. Nice!!!
I learned a valuable lesson about being open to people and not being governed by my initial perceptions…. A humbling experience to be sure!
Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. 🙂
Until next week