And … as quickly as it arrived, the snow is gone (although there is talk of more to come).
But enough about our wacky winter weather. Let me tell you about my first ever winter day hike. A bunch of weekends ago, I was hanging out in Whistler with a bunch of friends. Our plan was to do some snowshoeing, but we had just one problem.
There wasn’t nearly enough snow. (I told you it’s been a wacky winter.)
So the showshoes got left in the car, and we proceeded to trek through the woods in our winter boots.
The hike we chose was a relatively flat and short (3 km) walk to the Whistler Train Wreck. I had heard about this hike only a year or two ago, and had put it on my list of hikes to do, but hadn’t yet had the chance.
The Whistler Train Wreck consists of a bunch of boxcars scattered through the forest by the Cheakamus River. Not that long ago, the only way you could get to the site was by walking illegally along the railway tracks. But train conductors don’t much like that and would report you if they saw you so that the police were waiting for you as you exited the woods.
In 2016, a suspension bridge was built over the Cheakamus River and what used to be an unlawful ramble along the tracks is now a quick and easy hike connecting to the much longer Sea to Sky Trail. The trailhead is on the road to Cheakamus Crossing, a new subdivision of Whistler that served as the Athlete’s Village during the 2010 Olympics.
And how did a train wreck end up in the middle of a forest, you ask? A lumber train heading south from Lillooet derailed here in 1956. The seven damaged boxcars were dragged clear of the tracks by local loggers hired by the train’s owner, the Pacific Great Eastern Railway. Left scattered among the trees in the forest, they’ve remained there ever since.
The sight of mangled boxcars in the forest is a little surreal, to say the least. In winter, even more so.
Here, take a look.
Today’s photo is of another lake, but this one is much closer to home. I hiked out to Cheakamus Lake just this afternoon. It’s located in Garibaldi Provincial Park, just outside of Whistler.
What a view.
One of my best friends, a school teacher from Toronto, decided to spend this year’s spring break with me in Vancouver. She played tourist in the city while I worked, but then, mid-week, we set off to Whistler for a mini-break.
One of the best things about living in Vancouver is how easy it is to get out of Vancouver. I often take my out-of-town guests to Whistler for the day. Lunching in Whistler, I call it.
Whistler is a beautiful two-hour drive from Vancouver along the Sea to Sky Highway ― perhaps one of the most scenic drives in Canada. A couple of years ago, one of the friends I took Lunching in Whistler was so overwhelmed by the beauty on the drive up, she was speechless. You’d recognize the scenery even if you’ve never been to British Columbia ― many a car commercial has been filmed on this highway dramatically juxtaposed between mountain and ocean.
This time, I suggested to my friend that we do some skiing and stay over. Although many of my friends drive up to the resort for a day’s skiing and return home the same night, I thought it would be nice if we were able to relax after a day on the mountain instead of driving back to Vancouver the same night.
And I’m so glad we did.
We arrived on a Tuesday afternoon in the middle of a snowstorm. We skied Wednesday, with snow lightly falling around us most of the day. A Texan we met on the gondola said it hadn’t stopped snowing since he arrived the previous Sunday. After our return to Vancouver on Thursday, we happened to catch a story on the local evening news in which another Texan (or the same one, perhaps??) told the reporter that he had come to Whistler as there was no snow at the American ski resorts this winter.
Whistler Village was a Winter Wonderland that met all our expectations. Here, take a look.