Monday, February 22, 2010

Happy February 22nd: Hike-the-Chief Day

I don't remember the last time a day-off felt so good. I've been working so long at the Sliding Centre, whenever it gets quiet, all I hear are radio call signs and when I try to sleep, I have night terrors about being locked behind the gates after hours.

Seriously, a couple times now, I "wake up", and think I'm stuck between the track and the cement barrier in the middle of the night. It takes me a good two or three minutes to convince myself I've actually made it home.

But I digress. Anyway, been training for more than a week now for an uphill hike and today was the day. I finally got a chance to hike The Chief!

I can't believe it was February 22 though, walking around up there with nothing but tshirts, the sun shining down in a clear blue sky and the forest still green. Even saw an ambitious mosquito out and about.

Other cool sightings:
  • A dog who could climb vertical rock faces as long as there was a stick to make it worth it.
  • Another dog small enough to be a one-bite cougar snack
  • Olympic delegation from China (Or maybe Tai Pei) admiring Shannon Falls
  • Climber who'd just completed the face. Carrying all his gear on his back. He told us he placed a 6x8 flag on the face, so we had to go find it. Easier said than ton ... on the Chief, 6x8 is TINY.

Priscilla, Gerhard and I started out with Axl and Mika but Priscilla and the doggies had to cut out early, so it was just G and I left to dangle our feet over the side of the 700m practically vertical drop.

Gerhard and I parked on the southbound side of the highway and took the new pedestrian bridge installed as part of the Olympic Sea-to-Sky improvements last spring. The three [five] of us made it up at a leisurely pace, with amazing conversation that was over too soon, once we got to the first ladder. So sad to see you go, Priscilla!

It was no "walk in the park", just as the warnings at the bottom advertised. It was great though to get to the top and not have the view ruined with "warning: cliff" signs or railings to hold you back. If you were stupid enough to walk up to the edge, that was your business. Of course, I happen to be just that dumb.

What a rush. Your knees get a little wibbly wobbly and the feeling is only intensified if you look up, let alone looking down into the valley below. Howe Sound in the distance makes you reach for your water bottle.

It was a busy thoroughfare up there today -- lots of people which brings me to another cool thing. We saw everyone from the elderly, single young people out for a workout, families with dogs and little ones, and friends taking candid shots of each other leaning over waterfalls, or sunning themselves at the peak.

I'm pretty much hooked on hiking and shockingly, I'd have to say that this is one of only a handful of "Walks" that would be classified as an actual "hike" I've completed in my whole life. I think this is the one that's got me hooked though. Lot's of scrambling over rocks and roots, sunny vistas, loose rocks, some ladders and chains to help over the steeper spots and of course great hiking company.

Now we've just got to figure out what to do for dinner and then maybe we'll check out the Squamish movie theatre.

Thanks for following!

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