As far as Easter weekends go, this one has been pretty awesome. Last week I was given the option to work later hours in exchange for Easter Monday off, and I jumped at the chance. Four-day weekends are what dreams are made of. The first thing I did was check Air BnB to see if there were any last minute bargains to be had, but there wasn’t a single pet friendly apartment or cabin available within 2 hours drive of Vancouver. Staycationing turned out to be a better choice as we had a good mix of relaxation, day trips and eating chocolate (mostly me). The sunshine and blue skies didn’t hurt either.
We decided to spend today, our final day off, in Pemberton and Whistler. We spent quite a bit of time on the sea-to-sky highway for various events and parent visits last summer and we’ve chosen a venue in Pemberton for our wedding next year. We’ve enjoyed getting to know the area more (outside of the Whistler lift lines and village bars) and look forward to any opportunity to jump in a car and explore some more. One of our favourite spots is the stunning turquoise (dog friendly) waters of Joffre Lakes, so we decided to go back and see what the Lakes are like in the snow.
When I first thought of this last night, I was assuming the park would look very similar to last time we were there in September, but with blue skies instead of grey clouds. I thought it would be fun if there was some snow on the ground, but didn’t think there would be much left at the end of March. Turns out I massively underestimated the altitude of the Lakes. It was lucky I checked some recent instagram pictures before we left and packed some rain boots and snow pants, just in case.
The majority of the summer parking lot was under almost a car’s height of snow. I know this because a the top of a very lonely minivan was peeking out of a snow drift, driver door open and all of the windows smashed in. It’s owner must have had quite the surprise when they returned from their extended hike. We parked in the small plowed section by the entrance.
The snow on the trail itself was hard packed but very slippery and not at all Hunter appropriate. Luckily we were only planning on walking the 200m to the First Lake, because we wouldn’t have gotten any further without snowshoes. When we got to the end of the trail, there wasn’t a spot of turquoise in sight. The whole lake was frozen over like some kind of Disney-esque Winter Wonderland. The sun was blindingly bright, to the point of discomfort. The whole scene was one of the most Canadian things I’ve ever seen.
I had this sudden urge to run right into the middle of the lake but the man wasn’t having any of it, even when I showed him the footprints leading all the way across to the other side (no holes in sight). We settled on a few metres in, enough to be standing on top of ice and not soil. When I was done pretending to be an ice princess, we walked along the edge of the lake for a bit to get some more pictures. I proved yet again to be one of the most uncoordinated human beings on the planet as I stepped in all the wrong places and ended up hip deep in show on more than one occasion. Oh to be a 22lb Boston Terrier who just skips over the top of snow drifts without even making a dent. It was worth it just to get to be in the snow again, and in the baking hot sunshine.
Joffre Lakes is 30 minutes north of Pemberton (2hrs 30mins north of Vancouver) and well worth the trip. We broke up our drive today with coffee on the patio at Nita Lake Lodge, Whistler Creekside, and a round-trip hike from Nairn Falls to One Mile Lake, just before Pemberton. We were planning on getting a late lunch in Pemberton after our fun in the snow, but Mile One Eating House was closed for Easter Monday so we continued on to Whistler. The Village was packed with apres-skiers but we managed to find a table on a sunny patio with a great view of the slope. Perfect spot for a burger. I even managed a quick trip to Rocky Mountain Chocolate Company to get some buy-one-get-one-free Easter treats, that I’m about to tuck into. All of these stops were dog-friendly (except Rocky Mountain) which was a great Easter bonus.
I hope you all had a fantastic Easter, hopefully filled with sunshine and chocolate too!
It was just starting to rain as we walked up the snow-lined path, our feet crunching noisily on the gravel. It was also much colder than I’d expected it to be, and my hands were balled tightly into fists and shoved deep into my pockets as we shuffled along the path. I heard the waterfall before I saw it, though the roaring of the water falling 335 metres into the rocks below was soon drowned out by the chattering and camera clicks that could only belong to a group of equally cold tourists. We picked our way awkwardly through a group of over excited toddlers wrapped head to toe in what looked like polyester covered marshmallows, and took our own photos of the Shannon Falls. A steep path to the right of the viewing area led down to the side of the waterfall, where we watched the ice-cold water smash into the side of the river bank. The trees provided some welcome cover from the rain, and the noise of screaming toddlers was soon replaced with the infinitely more welcome sounds of birds singing and leaves rustling. Facing away from the viewing gallery and into the trees, we could have been wandering through the depths of a remote, West Coast rainforest. We savoured the moment for the last time, before making the three minute walk back to the small parking lot on the edge of Highway 99.
Squamish is a small, rural community of a little over 15,000 people nestled in between Vancouver and Whistler on the infamous Sea to Sky Corridor. This number does not include the population of the ‘Squamish Nation’, an amalgamation of self-governed Indian Reserves which stretch from Squamish across the North Shore. The recent improvements to the previously shaky Sea to Sky Highway in time for the 2010 Winter Olympics have puts Squamish a mere hour’s drive North from Downtown Vancouver, and many Squamish residents commute to ‘the city’ daily.
My previous trips to Squamish have been fleeting at best, and mainly work related. In March 2011 a series of unfortunate events resulted in a 90 minute visit for pleasure rather than work, though at least 85 of these minutes were spent standing outside Shoppers Drug Mart waiting for a ride back to Vancouver, so I don’t really count that one. Needless to say, I was excited to be spending a weekend in Squamish on my own terms, and with no other agenda than relaxing.