Whistler - The Rockies
Trip Start Oct 06, 2005
4Trip End Oct 14, 2005
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The early departure on Saturday got us to Whistler by noon. However, the Vancouver to Whistler route 'Sea to Sky' (nicknamed 'Sea to Die' by locals) was not a pleasant driving experience. It is easy to see how a single idiot car driver can cause fatal results. The worst part of the Sea to Sky route is a 50 km stretch full narrow, windy turns where the maximum speed was between 30 and 50 km/h.
After arriving in Whistler and checking into the hotel, Bill and I headed to the base of Whistler Mountain for the 7000 foot ascent in the gondola. Unfortunately the mountain was covered in clouds so the ride up only provided periodic vistas of the Rockies.
Black bears didn't seem to mind the clouds, as they were out feasting on leaves and berries in preparation for winter
A foot of fresh snow met us at the end of the gondola ride. Even with the snow it the weather was pleasant enough for a hike further up the mountain.
As I prepared for the snow trek, up the Little Whistler Way hiking trail (which I later realized was a diamond trail! urghh!) Bill had a quick look around and headed back down to the village for some.....shopping.
The combination of vertical rise and heavy snow led to me stopping my ascent on Whistler after only a half hour. Resting for a few minutes at a bowl area provided the opportunity for a look around at the snow blinding covered mountain top on one side of me and the contrasting green and white coloured mountain valley on the other side.
Back at the mountain base, I went exploring through Whistler village. The level of commercialization is grand. The village area is chocked full of boutiques, cafes, restaurants and other nick nack stores. The fact that there were two Starbucks in the village was evidence that this was no little, sleepy skiing village.
After meeting up with Bill we headed out for supper followed by a couple pints at the Dubh Linn Gate Irish Pub. The mockery for Irish music was made up for the selection of fine Irish stouts. The pint of Murphy's helped me drown out the shrieking banshee's that were on stage.
Sunday - Day 03 - Whistler then back to Vancouver
The main objective for today was to take in as much of Whistler before departing around noon. The previous day during the gondola ride up, a green coloured lake was visible on the north end of the village. A fellow gondola passenger stated that this was called Green Lake and it was green because it was fed from a glacier.
Armed with this knowledge I formulated an attack plan whereby, while Bill was shopping, I would hike around Green Lake hoping to see the mountain reflections. While on the hiking trail, I was rewarded with amazing views of the distant mountains reflecting off Green Lake on my right and views of the Nicalaus North golf course on my right.
After this definite trip highlight, I headed back to the hotel where we packed up and headed out for Vancouver.
About halfway between Whistler and Vancouver is Shannon Falls (near Squamish). On the drive up to Whistler I noticed these falls from the road and made the mental note to stop on our return.
After pulling into the parking lot, I got out and hiked up to the falls
This stopover at Shannon Falls proves that old expression that you need to take the time to stop and see what is around you. If you just drive by without bothering to look closely, you will indeed miss out on nature's wonders.
The conclusion of the Vancouver trip segment involved getting together with one of Bill's co-workers and of two of her two friends. We met up for drinks at the Bacchus Piano Lounge, reputedly one of Vancouver's celebrated watering holes.
Bill's colleague is currently in the final stages of becoming a sommelier. This was quite a coincidence as we were heading to Wine Country the following day. While drinking my Guinness beer, I listened closely for every tidbit of wine knowledge. I was sure that Bill must have a huge briefing on what to look for when selecting wines - I was hopeful that his acquired wine knowledge would serve us well in Napa.
Also having drinks with us was a master wood craftsman from England. One of the projects he worked on in England involved restoring parts of Hampton Court Palace. Having visited there in 2002 I could appreciate his skillsmanship. Finally, a trip to Vancouver would not be complete without a sniff of Hollywood. Our final evening drinking companion has a Hollywood actress neighbour, Famke Janssen, who is currently filming X-Men 3 in Vancouver (her character in X-Men is Jean Grey).