Friday, April 29, 2016

The Chief, Squamish, BC

Yesterday Adriana and I hiked the trail up the Stawamus Chief, in Squamish. It's one of the best hikes I know of in the Vancouver area (1 hour drive from the city), mostly due to the fun technical stuff near the top, and of course the view of Howe Sound and the surrounding mountains. It wasn't a sunny day, but the temperature was just about perfect for a hike and a short break to take in the spectacular view. Definitely worth doing at least once per hiking season.
view from the second peak
The Chief is a world-renowned rock climbing destination, and the hike up the backside of the wall is pretty majestic itself, heading up through a canyon with a gorgeous waterfall on one side. 
The trail is a well-marked, and very popular out-and-back 10-13 km with a 600m elevation gain, and a choice of three peaks to visit. The second peak is the most popular because of the view, and that's the one we went to. Try to get on the trail either early in the day, or during the week, to avoid crowds. Even being there on a Thursday afternoon it was pretty populated until we reached the top where the rock spreads out and allows for ample picnicking space.
Round-trip, the hike can take between two and four hours, depending on how long you want to spend at the top taking photos, eating lunch, and hand-feeding the very brave chipmunks. 

To get to the trailhead, take the Sea-To-Sky highway out of Vancouver and pull off the highway just before the town of Squamish (if you drive under the pedestrian overpass you've gone too far) up a steep drive to the gravel lot, where there are pit toilets and potable water pump. The trailhead is past the camp site at the far right if you're facing the mountain. Dogs are allowed on the trail, but be warned; the difficult ladder and scrambling required to get to the second peak (if not the first and third) make this one impossible for those with four legs. 

Today I'm feeling sore in my calves and quads, in the very best way. Definitely inching towards being in good shape for the WCT in September!

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