Exploring Squamish, the Sea-to-sky Country
Less than an hour’s drive from Vancouver, Squamish has recently branded itself as the Outdoor Recreation Capital of Canada. And rightly so! With a complex terrain that comprises of numerous sea-level bays, rivers and creeks and 2500-meters plus snow-capped peaks, Squamish does have a great deal of outdoor recreation opportunities to offer. But for a long time I, and most of my friends for that matter, had only been interested in the high grounds of this terrain, such as Garibaldi Provincial Park. (see these of my earlier posts). We seem to have forgotten the lower part of this terrain, specifically the Squamish valley that extends from the north end of Howe Sound along Squamish River almost in parallel to Highway 99 (the Sea-to-sky Highway).
Exploring the valley area is one of my New Year’s Resolutions. Last Wednesday a rare sunny winter day gave me an opportunity to put this resolution into action. Two friends and I drove to Squamish Valley Road. We had two objectives. One was to reach Lake Levette through Paradise Valley Road, and the other was to find a spot in the valley where Mount Fee and other rugged peaks could be photographed.
In a Nissan X-Terra, we drove up to the lake without much problem, although the forest service road was snow-covered and slippery. The lake was frozen but the ice cover was not thick enough for anyone to step on. From looking westward from lake shore, Tantalus Range was in full view. Beautiful! (click this picture to see it in larger size) From left to right, the mountains are: Alpha, Serratus, Dione and Tantalus
The shore is dotted with private properties, but a trail around the lake is on the map. We left the hiking to next trip. For photography, early spring may be the best time, when the lake is half melt and gives good reflection of the mountains. Otherwise, finding good foreground for composition is not easy.
We then drove back to Squamish Valley Road and turned northwest. The road is paved up to the bridge to Ashlu Creek. The view from the bridge was very nice, and could be stunning in a more appropriate weather.
Road condition after the bridge was from bad to worse and worse. The road was full of potholes and very icy. For the 20 km we covered, it took us over an hour. One of my friends was on the verge of throwing up. Finally we got to a forest road branch where Vulcan’s Thumb (south to Pyroclastic Peak) is fully visible. It was already 3:30 pm and we decided to return back from there to avoid driving in the dark.
Mount Fee was not visible from there. We will probably try another approach, from Highway 99, to get close to it.
On our way back, we got this little falls on roadside:
Now we are waiting for another good weather day to continue our exploration of the lower grounds of the Sea-to-sky country.