Cheakamus Lake, 9 Jun 2012

Our first hike in some time, and first since returning to Vancouver after our UK trip and a great walk in the Cotswolds. Really I just wanted to get out somewhere we hadn’t been in a while and below the snow line. It was in early June six years ago that we first hiked this trail and I remembered seeing lots of woodland flowers. Today was warm and sunny, barely a cloud in the sky.

We headed up the bumpy Cheakamus Lake road, our CR-V handling it with ease, certainly compared with our last visit here with our much lower Integra. Pulling on our boots, we set off and I was immediately struck by the quiet – apart from the roaring creek of course – and the scent of the trees. I’d missed this.

A few minutes up the trail we encountered our first flowers of the day: an extensive area of wild ginger, many in flower but quite a few still barely in bud. Further on we saw some fading bleeding heart and some yellow stream violets. Soon afterwards, we passed a trio of large cedars and entered the quiet of the old growth forest. The trail was very easy going apart from a detour around one large fallen tree.

We passed several people heading back from the lake, including a few mountain bikers, and numerous people walking their dogs. Dogs are forbidden in Garibaldi Park but since there are no rangers to enforce it, it’s a regularly-flouted rule. My guess is that they’re Whistler locals who are blase about bear encounters and don’t think that anything will come of them bringing their dog into the park. But that’s pure speculation on my part.

We were too early for the Queen’s Cup, though plenty were in bud. As we neared the lake, Maria spotted a pair of Fairyslipper (or Calypso) orchids, another flower we’d seen on our 2006 trip. We came to the lake and ate a snack by the water. The day was calm and for once we had a great view of the mountains across the water which Dawn Hanna waxes lyrical over in her description of the hike. Being here in daylight, we decided to look our for camping spots to see if we’d missed anything when we arrived here in the dark on our night-time approach back in 2010. We explored as far as we had gone that night, identifying the spot where we pitched our tent, but we found it difficult to locate the camp sites marked on the map. There were spaces between the trees, but were they official spots? Who knows.

We had no firm desire to go much further, so we turned around and walked steadily back to the car before heading in to Whistler for our afternoon caffeine fix.

The highlight was to come as we saw a mother bear and her three cubs near the side of the Sea-to-Sky highway on the drive home. None of the other cars had noticed so despite the passing traffic, it felt like we had our own private bear-viewing moment. A wonderful day out.

Sea to Sky, 9 Jun 2012

Distance: 6 km
Elevation gain: 50 m

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