Day 9 – Luckiest Girl In Whistler

I was up at seven with an alarm since there had been talk the night before of a possible canoe trip with Sheilagh, Graham and Jake (who is one of Sheilagh’s sons that I also worked with at Tesla). I resolved to make a decision between that and the bike park in the morning, but I was getting up early to give myself both options. I cooked a big breakfast of oatmeal since my body had been craving a lot of food lately (maybe because I was working so hard). Sheilagh came in as breakfast was on the stove and I knew I was immediately up for the canoe trip intead of the bike park. I felt like this would be a more unique experience and my body was tired from yesterday’s riding. Graham came round to check numbers for the trip and it looked like it was to be me, Sheilagh and him. Knowing that, he went back to his place to make lunch and we set a meeting time for 8:30. Jake surfaced not long after that. It was great to see him again after I last saw him at Tesla in April. He was supposed to catch up with a local friend, but decided he could do that in the afternoon and canoe in the morning. So it was now a party of four! Lunches packed and wet weather gear on, we were ready so we walked around the corner to Graham’s house. It was cloudy and foggy outside, but with a hint of blue sky so we were all hopeful. Graham already had the canoe mounted on the roof so all we had to do was throw our stuff in and we were off. Kids in the back, grown ups in the front.

We drove south towards Vancouver but didn’t stay on the main road for long. After that, Graham navigated through a very rough dirt road full of mud-filled potholes the size of car tires for a fair few kilometres. At the end, we arrived at Callaghan Lake and dismounted the canoe. There was only one other car parked so figured we’d pretty much have the lake to ourselves. It was picture perfect, the water was like glass and there was a waterfall in the distance and a rainbow protruding from the low hanging clouds. We loaded ourselves, some lifejackets, paddles, our backpacks and two milk crates with towels for seats into the canoe and pushed off. Our destination was the waterfall. It was perfectly still on the lake and we all oohed and aahed at the view surrounding us. I was so happy to know that even though they are locals, Graham, Sheilagh and Jake were stilled impressed with the scenery.

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It didn’t take long to paddle over to the waterfall with three of us paddling (Sheilagh was focusing on her role as the canoe balancer). As we approached we saw another canoe parked on the bank and a tarp a short way from the bank, obviously from campers. The dismount was easy enough with a long log right next to the bank so we used that to get out and avoid wet feet. We tipped the canoe over so it didn’t fill with water in the event of rain and were off. We’d only walked a few steps and we were in the camp of two girls with a lot of dry-weather gear and some fishing rods. They had been camped out since Friday night doing a lot of fishing I guess. They had some fancy gear and a canoe made out of Kevlar. They were packing up camp for the day and we explained the hike we were going to do and they seemed interested and thought that they might follow us up.

The goal was to hike up alongside the waterfall and make it to Cirque Lake, where glaciers towered over it. The hike started out pretty mellow through a very damp, moss-covered forest with pine needles underfoot that made the ground very soft. After a short while, the trail steepened significantly as we climbed next to the waterfall. We stepped up over slippery roots and mossy rocks, zig-zagging all over to find the easiest route. Every now and then we’d look back to Callaghan Lake to see that it was shining in the patches of sunlight creating a stunning view.

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We climbed, and talked, and climbed, and talked with one short break for removal of some warm layers (and a muesli bar for me). We could feel the climax coming as we neared the top of the hike. After making jokes about how Graham looked a little bit like a hobbit, we were at the lake! Oh what a sight it was. There were patches of snow in the rocky hill beyond the lake and there was a glacier above that which we couldn’t see because of the fog. We did see a beautiful meadow on the far side of the lake where the ground was covered in the brightest green colours of moss and grass and scattered with grey and black rocks.

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Jake and I both had a taste of the water from the lake which was super clear with a beautiful turqoise tinge. We set up for lunch out of the slight wind on a comfortable rock that overlooked the lake. The view changed each moment with the fog shifting, but we never saw any more than our first impression. It was too cold to stay too long so we were back on the trail pretty soon, after I’d taken a few more photos. As we got to the top of the hill, we ran into the two girls from camp. It was nice to see them just as they approached the view, they were stoked to be at the top. They thanked us for encouraging them to do the hike and made off to find a similar lunch spot to us. We left promising to steal all of their food and their kayak, which was fancy and light being made out of Kevlar.

The hike down was probably harder than coming up because of all of the potential sliding. I proved as much when my foot slipped on a rock and I slid down over rocks and roots on my left side, not able to stop myself. I must have gone about ten meters before Jake half-tackled me to halt my momentum. I got up, brushed myself off, not too worse for wear but for the freezing cold hands I now had from scraping them over the cold ground. We carried on with no further incident. The hike down didn’t take too long so we were back at our “tin boat” as the other girls had called it about an hour after leaving our lunch spot.

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We launched the canoe, this time with me getting front row seat so I could enjoy the view. The sunshine was well and truly gone so there was no shimmering over the water, but it was still pretty. All four of us paddled this time, with Sheilagh requesting a “switch!” in sides every ten or so strokes to prevent rower’s fatigue. There were quite a few boats on the lake now, including one guy on a blow-up thing with a couple of oars that he wasn’t paddling with very vigorously. As we passed and said hi, he was exasperated, “This is the worst idea ever!” Clearly he thought his equipment would be more capable than it actually was. We did a bit more of a touring paddle on the trip back, getting up close to some of the islands with their early autumn colours. Back on shore, we unloaded without getting any feet wet and loaded the canoe back onto the top of the truck for the lumbering drive out. It was nice to get into a warm car. With the sun gone, the warmth of the day had disappeared with it. It was around 2:30pm as we started heading back. Not long after we were in the car, Tristan messaged Sheilagh to see if I was up for some climbing, which I said yes to, but was confused at how we would manage since it was “somewhat raining” in Whistler. This is according to Sheilagh. To me, it was definitely raining. Nearly home, Sheilagh put Tristan on the phone and we hatched a plan to get on the wall later that afternoon as he was heading back from near Vancouver, we could meet in the middle. Jake and his mate Graham (a different Graham) were also keen, so even merrier!

Back at Sheilagh’s place, she put on an afternoon supper since we all had appetites (mostly me). We had some baked salmon from the night before with bread, salad and quinoa. It was absolutely devine. Best salmon I’d ever had, I could have eaten three times as much. I filled up on bread as much as possible and Jake made me a hot chocolate which warmed me from the inside out. Not long after, Jake and I were out and off to pick up Graham for our climbing adventure. Graham and Jake had gone to highschool together and through the same university course, except Graham had graduated while Jake still had two years left, because of all of the internships he’d done. We got to know each other on the drive south down the highway to Chekamus Canyon. He was one of those slightly awkward engineers, with square framed glasses and moppy hair formed by wearing a hat, but a really cool guy. He’d spent seven weeks of the last summer touring around Scotland on a self-made bamboo bike.

At the Canyon, we got a text from Tristan that he was fifteen minutes away, so I organised my climbing gear a bit and we chatted away. When Tristan rocked up, he sent me off to check out a couple of close by walls to see if they were dry. I ran into two climbing pairs and talked to them about their climbs. They were both on easier stuff but the wall was dry in places. It was great to talk to them. One of the guys in the first party was off to Australia next year so I told him to check out Kangaroo Point and he duly noted the name and promised to do so. Back at the car, I reported my findings, but because we wanted to do some harder stuff, we wandered off to Circus Wall, or a wall near to it to find our picks. We walked in a few hundred meters and met a few other climbing groups, most trying some knarly stuff.

We got to a spot protected by a huge roof with 5.13+ grades on it, but nice 5.10/5.11ish routes underneath. Tristan was happy to find a very popular 5.10c free so suggested we jump on that. I was happy with that grade so that’s what we did! He lead on, not feeling the best, so irked at a few bolts, but otherwise had a good climb. I really enjoyed it when I lead it behind him. Definitely required a lot of arm strength in places because the feet were pretty thin. I had to have a rest after getting over the crux because it used up all of my feeble (and tired out) female muscles. As we climbed, Jake and Graham hung out at the bottom catching up with the belayer joining in the conversation where possible. Following the 10c, I lead a 10a a couple of climbs over because I already had my shoes on. Tristan followed up with his lead, then Jake put my harness and spare shoes on and gave it a shot. He was pretty rusty so struggled in a couple of parts, but got up top in the end. We bantered the whole way, giving each other a laugh. As Jake was coming down, we thought maybe we’d have time for another climb, but decided not to in the end. It was 7pm and there was thunder not too far off in the distance and it was bound to get dark quickly. We’d made a responsible decision, I was struggling to see even on the walk out! Back at the car, we made plans to continue festivities and hang out at Sheilagh’s place.

I was hungry yet again so back at Sheilagh’s I heated up some left over I-don’t-know-what and some toast and hoed in with a beer. Graham and Sheilagh were already hanging out over a beer, so we just grew the party. Eventually Tristan came over as well and the laughs continued. We talked and talked and talked, swapping stories about all sorts of things. Graham retired and took the younger Graham home and Sheilagh disappeared not long after. That left me, Jake and Tristan talking shit until past midnight. I said goodbye to Tristan with a bear hug and same to Jake, feeling so lucky to have spent time with them both.

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In bed, Enrique tried his luck with me again, but he didn’t last long.

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