Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Hike No. 6
This weeks hike took us to the famous Stawamus Chief in Squamish. It's a popular hike and was indeed a busy trail, but well worth it. It's a fairly steep climb. We discovered that while I prefer climbing over descending, db is the opposite. He prefers the descent over climbing. It shows in our pace because I'm faster going up while he's much faster going down while I peck my way down the rocks and tree roots.
That is the trail. It is all rock and tree roots. There is a creek near the bottom and another trail that leads to Shannon Falls, but that's another hike.
How do so many massive trees grow in amongst this rock? I guess it's possible because there they are, all those trees growing mostly in the gullies.
Near the top of the second peak (we skipped the first peak just to save on time and we were following a hike outlined in my book) you have to leave the gully and climb up onto the rock. I was surprised because I wasn't expecting chains to guide us, which were very necessary in several parts of the climb.
There was one junction where we had to wait while several people descended because one particular spot is a bit of a stretch while you hang onto the chain. When db and I first arrived at this spot we were alone, and he went first and hopped across to the next landing. I started to follow, but then baulked at the small jump onto some tree roots. I just didn't feel steady enough even with the chain. That's when the first group of people coming down appeared. I stayed on one side while db was on the other and we watched person after person climb down the rock and then make the jump some with great ease and others with some hesitation. Meanwhile another group from Australia arrived behind us. I felt the pressure to take the first step after everyone of the descenders had passed. One of the Australians motioned to the chain and said "after you." I grabbed on and jumped and it was no problem really. Perhaps that rest and watching everyone cross that junction made it easier for me. I didn't even think about it.
After that you just hang on and keep climbing until you reach the top.
It was very cloudy. It had rained earlier in the day, but not enough to leave any water behind on the trail or the rock.
The clouds would break and we could see Squamish below and the other two peaks on either side of us. I loved the rock surface so rough and weathered looking. There are bits of dried moss and patches of colour where the rock changes. It's also quite hilly in parts where it looks like you might climb up and be on the edge of a cliff. There are a few trees that look stunted and as weather worn as the rock itself. I found it quite beautiful up there.
We found a spot to sit and watch the clouds drift before us. We did get a few misty droplets of rain as the clouds came and went. It looks like some got on the lens.
The water was such a beautiful colour.
On a clearer day I'm sure we could have seen some of the snowy peaks to the north, but I really enjoyed watching the clouds sweep over the rock. In the above photo that's the first peak just below us and I believe it's the mouth of the Squamish River
On the way down we decided to save the third peak for another time and take the less travelled North Gully back to the campground/parking lot. There was a great view just between the two peaks and the sky cleared enough to see the town below.
The North Gully was a really nice hike. It wasn't well marked at the trail head, but was well marked the whole way down. It was much quieter. We only saw a couple of people on the way down until we reached a rockface where a couple of climbers were scaling up the side of the rock. Very brave. Eventually the North Gully hooked up to the main trail near the bottom and we were back on the busy route, but by then we were so close to the bottom of the climb I didn't mind the traffic.
It's definitely on the list for when my brother and C. visit again. They'll love it.
Back at home I was happy to see that my President clematis finally bloomed. It's probably not happy that I had to move it this year, but at least I got one bloom. Next year hopefully more will show.