Get Outside: Minimoon in Whistler
September 3, 2018 we were married at Smith Rock State Park in central Oregon. My wedding gift to my wife, Natalie, was a mini-moon to Whistler with a couple stops along the way. I wanted it to be a surprise so I made her guess where we were going. I made her guess the location using a couple props. Didn’t take long with the black comb and the whistle.
Wednesday night we headed for Bellevue, WA to spend the night with my parents. This was a chance to say “hi” and also to a way to save some time traveling to Canada the next day.
We got an early start to avoid some of the horrible traffic around town. Fortunately, our early start and heading out of town while people were heading in, we made good time. Natalie had a surprise stop for me at the Capilano Suspension Bridge park. It was busy, but we found a convenient parking spot and crossed the street to check this place out. I had never heard of this place and was thinking it was just one suspension bridge. Well yes, it is, but there is a cliff walk and a tree to tree park.
We went right for the suspension bridge and wow was it high above the river below. Our first obstacle was an older gentleman that had collapsed on our side of the bridge. He was blocking everyone’s access to the bridge. I immediately shoved my camera and pack into Natalie’s arms and rushed over to help. I knew from his appearance that it wasn’t a major medical problem it was something else. He had collapsed from over exertion and needed help getting to his feet. I called over for a wheel chair and for some water to get him into a more comfortable position. The benefit of helping is we got to the first of the line and were allowed out on the bridge all by ourselves for a brief moment.
This bridge is 459 feet long and supported on land anchors. Once you start walking on the bridge with a bunch of other sightseers the bridge gets to swinging. It is like your worst drunk walk that you have ever had just to cross the bridge. Once you get to the other side; look up! There are many tree to tree adventures awaiting you. We spent some time in the trees and then crossed back over to go to the cliff walk. This is pretty cool and makes you think from an engineering perspective, how is this staying attached to the granite.
Our next stop on our journey was to stop at the Sea to Sky Gondola ride. This is a 10-minute gondola ride just off the Sea to Sky highway. It climbs about 2500 feet up a steep granite wall to the restaurant at the top. It is a breath-taking ride to the top with amazing views of Howe Sound and some of the surrounding areas. The gondola is open year around despite the weather. When you get to the top take a moment and walk out to the decking and enjoy the view of Howe Sound.
We took the suspension bridge across to the hiking trails and started to explore. There are a few hiking trails, some being short and easy and others that require a little more out of you. We certainly got our steps in and stopped back at the snack shack for a bit of liquid refreshment to fuel up for another trail.
Sea to Sky Gondola ride is a must see and worth the price of admission. You can save a few dollars by purchasing the tickets ahead of time, if not you can purchase them there - $42. The parking is also plentiful and free. If you are up for a little more of an adventure, park at Shannon Falls and walk to the ride – it is a short hike. You can also hike to the top, but it is steep and a not for the faint of heart.
From Sea to Sky we hit the road to get to Whistler Village and get checked in to our hotel. I had booked ahead and found prices pretty fair for being across the street from the village. I Aava hotel was just about $100 a night for a ground floor room with two beds. I will say parking was a potential issue. But for a bit of a sum you can get a pass and park underground. This is not for tall vehicles as the ceilings are pretty low. I think I could have reached out the window of my truck and touched the ceiling. It was a little unnerving to drive through there. I was just hoping that all the sprinkler heads and other plumbing were all at the same height.
That night we hit the village and got some dinner and a few drinks. I reminisced about when I was here during the new year around Y2K and the interesting nights we had. Not sure we would get away with some of that stuff now😊
The next morning, I had planned for us to go do the Superfly zipline tour in Cougar. It was a short ride out of town and so we hoped in the truck and made our way to their basecamp for instructions. I had never ziplined and Natalie had a little experience. For both of us this was different; ATV side by side ride to the top and 5 ziplines to get you back down the mountain. With the first one being 8 tenths of a mile and 600ft above the trees and the rest shorter, but each different in speed, length and views. They tell you to allow 3 hours with travel to and from Cougar and the zip lines. We were in a group of 4 other couples and had a great time.
Superfly gives instructions on safety and operation of the apparatus you are attached to. I will say they do a great job keeping you safe and making sure you have fun. I did take my GoPro Hero 4 camera with me so we could record everything. The part to keep in mind is when you hit the braking mechanism on the landing. It can be a pretty abrupt stop and if you have anything loose in your hand it may get launched. I had my GoPro tethered to my wrist so I could put both hands on the apparatus upon stopping. So, keep that in mind if you grab your phone and want to record it. You really aren’t in a position to put the phone back into a pocket due to the riding position you are in.
Following the zipline tour we headed out for another hike at Joffre Lakes. This is a hike that includes 3 lakes and some amazing teal blue water. This first lake is a short 5-10 min hike from the parking lot. We found the signs detailing the trip to the first lake kind of funny. It said 15 min hike to the first lake, when in reality it is much more like 5 min. We think it was in tourist time and not actual time. We of course pressed on to the second lake which was more demanding. As with most hikes it is a climb and this was the same. I don’t have the stamina that Natalie has and it gets a little frustrating at times. Both our packs are about the same weight, just I am packing up a few extra pounds on my mid-section. All the staircases and switchbacks are all worth it when you see the lake. Absolutely amazing and takes your breath away. As usual we packed a couple beers and sandwiches with us to keep us fueled up. After we spent some time at the lake, we were told of a cascading waterfall not too far up the trail. It was getting late and we still had to get down so the third lake was out of the question. We decided to crack our beer and sandwiches at the waterfall and even shared a sandwich with a stranger. This is a must see if you are in the area and have some time to hike.
On the way home, we made a couple of other waterfall stops to maximize our trip. But we did have a ferry to catch at Fort Casey on Whidbey Island and needed to be smart with our time. This would be the next leg of the adventure – Mt. Ellinor.
We did make the short ferry ride to Port Townsend and took 101 south to Hoodsport where I had booked a room at Glen Ayr. We arrived around 9:30-10pm and had to ring the bell to get service. A very nice man came down and greeted us and got our room squared away.
The next day we awoke to a light mist and fog. We had planned to climb Mt. Ellinor at the end of the summer, but were met with a stomach bug that prevented the climb. This time we were all good and just had to work around Mother Nature’s decision to make it cold and foggy. We questioned attempting it, but we were there in the area and might as well give it a try.
We took the fire service road to the trailhead and were immediately met by cold and fog. But we packed our bags and geared up for a climb. That climb starts as you leave your parking spot and does not stop. You continue to climb through the trees pretty much to the top. We made it worth it was the quiet, the cool air, the brilliant fall colors and that we practically had the place to ourselves.
I have always believed you don’t need to always wait for the best weather to hike or explore. This time we missed the big sweeping views, but we had these amazing fall colors – almost looked fake. Plus, the fog limited your view of what was ahead on this steep climb and just gave a different perspective. Days like this are almost more of a mystery and I prefer that.
We didn’t stay too long at the top because were exposed to the winds and the wet from the fog. Plus, we still had to drive back to Beaverton after we got down. I will say the climb down was much quicker and seemed to fly by. We passed a few other hikers, but again pretty much had the place to ourselves.
We had an amazing mini-moon packed full of funtivities and memories. We never really seem to waste a minute or leave any stone unturned. There is a pro and a con to this for sure. I crashed on the way home and Natalie crashed a day later from all the fresh air and hiking around. We certainly love Canada and all the beauty it has…. I would almost venture to say, we wouldn’t mind moving there!