Friday, June 10, 2011

Time to Chill

The Chief, eh? It pretty much lived up to its name. Its a large, abrupt rocky outcrop, with volcanic origins, in the small town of Squamish, about half way between Whistler and Vancouver. There are actually 3 peaks, accesible from a track that splits 3 ways about half way up. They all climb very steeply, and involve re-bar ladders and chain hand rails to help climb/pull your way up various stages of the ascents. the rock itself is about 350m high, so its a fairly substantial scramble. After checking the whereabouts of the trailhead in the information office, I was recommended to give the 2nd peak a bash as it had the best view. This I did, reaching the top in about an hour (1/2 hour faster than the info person suggested, and about an hour quicker than the marker at the bottom), sweated for a bit at the top, and headed down as far as the split in order to go up the first peak as well. Why not? I thought. I'm only here once. I toyed with the idea of doing the 3rd peak as well, but meeting a rather cute local girl at the top and chatting to her seemed more fun, so I invited myself along when she finally headed back down. No harm, no foul as they say.

I carried on to Vancouver and found a rather crowded hostel in the downtown area. I found a pub to watch the 3rd round of the hockey play-offs (the next best thing to the world cup over here) and kept my head down when Vancouver lost 8-1 to American opposition. The next day I went a-walkin' round town, visiting the Musuem of Biodiversity, the Granville Island Market and the Aquarium, by way of large parts of the water front, going mostly by foot but for one long stretch to the museum by bus, and therefore got to see a fair amount of the downtown city. Its a nice place, I think, and located on the doorstep of some amazing mountians and outdoor recreation. Nice.

Wednesday saw me off to the early ferry to Vancouver Island, and involved a little more Satnav horn-locking. The machine was convinced the ferry terminal was a 2 1/2 hour, 34km journey away, and I hoped fervantly that it was wrong, as I'd only allowed an hour to do what I believed to be a 25km journey. Once again, I was right and I arrived with plenty of time. I am losing faith in my guidance system.

Once on Vancouver Island I decided to get an oil change for Flash Harriette, and to get her brakes checked out after the thermal disaster that was narrowly averted. The guy at the garage seemed to think the brakes would do, but conceded that something had got very hot and become bent (hence the shuddering when decelerating from 100km/h or so), but it was going to cost about $450 to fix and wasn't essential, so I left it well enough alone. That's one perk of having a rental I guess - ultimately it's not my problem.., as long as it holds up while I have it. Three hours, one hitch hiker and 2 bears later and I was in Tofino, where I will stay and be a tourist for a few days.

Today I went out early on a nature cruise round the islands of Tofino to see various wild things, and checked off bald eagles, osprey, puffins and sea otters, among others, for the trip. I have a dive planned for Saturday, and will make a decision about going out looking for whales later on. I figure I won't see them as well as I did off Peninsula Valdez, so what's the point? Maybe I'll go fishing instead. Lots of salmon hereabouts, and some halibut too, by all accounts. And hikes, of course. Lots of hikes. It'll be a surprise for us both :-)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just sitting in the lounge on Sunday wondering how you are. Stu was concerned, I filled him in on your latest blog and told him basically you had hiked a lot and were complaining about blisters, to which he muttered "typical pom". So you can see you are dearly missed here at work. We are flat out as Wellington now has an arsonist or two and once again you are missing out on all the working jobs. Safe travels brown watch.

PS did you get any action from the cute local you walked off the hill with.