19th Aug. Vancouver - Whistler
We packed up our stuff and stored it at the hostel before going in search of the car. The email from Canadian Affair gave an address which only had two empty car hire units, neither of which were Avis. We had to stop for refreshments at a Starbucks (much to my horror and boys delight!) to browse the Internet and find the correct address before managing to walk past the place! Eventually we got hold of the car and drove up the 7 levels of the basement garage to the street and back to the hostel to collect our bags. Once loaded we set off tentatively through the afternoon traffic and headed out of Vancouver through Stanley Park and across the Bridge towards Horseshoe Bay and on up Highway 93 towards Whistler. As promised by Jane, the views were astounding, ever-changing views as we travelled along Highway 99, the Sea to Sky Highway, clinging to the side of the rocky margins of what is really a fjord which ends at Squamish but continues to keep you entranced as you make your way into the Coastal Range. Apparently my great uncle Will wanted to buy some land in Squamish when he passed through Canada in the 1930s but his fiancée's parents objected to the idea that their daughter would travel so far from home! Perhaps it is not so strange that 2 of his 3 children and now 5 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren live in BC.
20th Aug. Whistler
Really comfortable night on Jane and Rob's sofa beds, then of for breakfast in town ( great to sit and watch all the people starting thier days. whistler is as busy in the summer as it is in the winter because of the fantasic selection of mountain biking trails and mountain bike lifts that take the pain out of getting to the top of the trails. After a long breakfast (the waitress was not quite awake I think) we caught the cable car up to Whistler Peak. In glorious weather, we walked down a little to a second lift which took us to the peak (2182m) then walked back down along 'Matthew's Traverse' which had walls of snow in places up to 20ft tall. Then we took the Peak2Peak gondola which joins the ski areas of Whistler and Backcomb across a 2.5pm gap.... Some Korean girls took a fancy to Matt and chatted him up much to the amusement of the other passengers and especially us! Then a brisk walk across rocky ground covered in pine and opening out into steep meadows of purple, white, yellow and red flowers on a bright green background of grass. Eventually we arrived at a corrie lake fringed with snow where we tested the crystal clear water for temperature. M&N went on a foray up the corrie scree and returned boot skiing down the snow. We headed back and caught the ski lift down to Whistler.
21st Aug. Whistler to Lillooet.
We stayed a second night at Jane's, breakfasting the next day at Starbucks (oh dear...) and stocking up with food for camping before heading east looking for Joffre Lakes. The road to Joffre and Lillooet is a continuation of the amazing views as it winds through deepening canyons with such a variety of geology on show it must be a geologists heaven! Just as we were beginning to get to grips with the scale of the landscape we would round another bend and find ourselves having to reassess it over again.
Our stop at Joffre lakes was for a short hike to look at some lakes that Jane had recommended. We started off in flip-flops but soon went back to the car to change. The first lake was a brilliant emerald blue, fringed with bright green reeds and dark pines, set off with a dark blue sky and fluffy white clouds. We continued on the trail to the second lake... the trail soon changed, from the wheelchair suitable, to a rough path laced with tree roots winding it's way up a steep hillside emerging into a scree slope made up of suitcase sized rocks. We arrived at the second lake to find it more beautiful than the first and just s tempting to jump into..... We set off for the third lake and after another 50 mins or so emerged from the forest to find the most amazing blue lake set off by a ring of bare rock hills and a glacier and waterfall tumbling down the slope to the head of the lake. We headed for the waterfall and found a great campsite hidden amongst the rocks and small pines. The brave ones, M&N, dipped their heads in the waterfall before we set off at pace retracing our steps back to the car.
The drive on to Lillooet proved to be as spectacular as any of the drive so far, an amazing drive through never-ending, deepening canyons over a watershed between the coast and the interior as we wound our way over the watershed of the coastal range and headed into the relative desert like terrain that marks the Eastern slopes of the Caribou range. We stopped at a free campsite run by BCHydro near the Seaton hydro electric scheme which is on the outskirts of Lillooet . We filled the car and bought choc milkshakes, ice cream and some muffins for breakfast. One of the shakes was 10 days out of date and tasted rather sour :-p this was our first opportunity to put up the boy's 3 man tent we bought at MEC back in Vancouver and the first trial of the sleeping mats too. We cooked a supper of freeze dried Mexican chilli and rice making use of the Jetboil to boil the water in double quick time. It turned out to be a very hot night and I woke early to discover that there were two deer browsing the bushes just 15 ft away.
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