Kamloops to Whistler Roadtrip

I started this journal, blog, whatever you want to call it, and this evening I sat down to write, and I just don’t know where to start. My Dad told me to write about indecision, with a follow up post about procrastination. These two traits have defined my life. My mom told me to write about things that interest me, and to expand on my instagram captions. That involves choosing a post to expand on. My boyfriend, Austin, told me to write a post introducing the posts that will be coming soon. I’m not sure what those will be.

I’ve just got to start somewhere. So I’m going to start with a weekend that made me happy. It was the third weekend in September, Covid cases in BC were low and the restrictions reflected that. At the time we were free to meet with friends in small groups. With that in mind, four of my best friends (Marie, Katie, Jaime, Justine) and I planned a weekend getaway to Whistler.

Here’s the story of our weekend – where we stopped on the drive and where we went when we were in Whistler.

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  • Kamloops to Whistler

    Jaime and I took Friday off work to slowly meander our way from Kamloops to Whistler along Highway 1 and Highway 99. It was warm, though the air was dry and thick with smoke, the result of fires in California. The leaves had just started changing colour – yellows peaking through summer’s greens. Narrow, winding roads wove through tall trees and every so often a break in the trees revealed the jagged peaks of mountains or the aqua of freshwater lakes.

    We were in no rush, and it was a beautiful day for a drive.

    Some things you should know about road trips with me – when I’m driving, I pull over constantly and with little warning, I see something out the window and can’t help but stop. Which is how, after I took over driving an hour into the trip, I turned a projected four hour drive into seven and a half hours. 

    These were our stops (all highly recommended by me if you’re driving this way).

    pavilion lake

    Our first stop was right on the side of the highway. I couldn’t keep driving when I saw the colour of the water and the light shining over the hill onto her surface. After stopping, I learned that this small lake is the home to some beautiful microbialites (large carbonate rock – picture here if you’re interested) and is the subject of research by NASA (which is wild). We stayed above water and saw no microbialites, but I did take some photos of Jaime and the lake.

    various pullouts nearing lillooet

    Driving through BC, the roads are constantly winding. Coming around each corner is a surprise, mountains you didn’t know where there, suddenly appearing; a bridge passing over rivers twisting in valley bottoms; construction there and gone two turns of the road later; lakes appearing through the fog or the smoke, the slight slope of the bank the only thing separating you from her glistening surface. 

    One of these surprises came as we wound our way through a valley, the river was somewhere to our right, empty fields stretching between us. We were climbing up a slight hill and out of the smoke came the outline of a magnificent peak. Luck was on my side, as the shoulder widened enough to pull over. I stopped, grabbed my camera, and actually ran down the hill beside the road to get a better view. It turns out the view had made countless others stop before me, because a well worn trail led me down to just above a set of train tracks.

    I felt so calm, staring out over a new view, and as always I was compelled to take a photo (or a hundred) to freeze this moment, this lighting, this feeling. I could have spent an entire afternoon exploring, but I only got ten minutes before the smoke had dried my eyes, they were that slight searing pain, as if you’ve been cutting onions and you know the tears are coming. I ran back to the car, craving the cleaner air she held, climbed into the driver’s seat, had a good cry, and then we continued on our way.

    Before we reached Lillooet we stopped twice more, these ones pullouts on the side of the road offering views of the river and the valley.

    seton lake viewpoint

    Before we started driving that morning, we had only one planned stop – this was it. I had been meaning to go to the Seton Lake viewpoint since the first time I saw a photo of it, sometime earlier this (or last?) year. It had never worked out before this weekend. Even with the smoke, the quick jaunt through the woods to this view was so well worth it – and we each got one of those very classic horseshoe pictures that absolutely everyone takes. Jaime even took some of me, and since I left my tripod in the car, I rigged up a tripod from rocks, phones, and bags so we could get a photo together.

    duffey lake

    Our last stop was another lake beside the highway. In retrospect, it’s fascinating how thick smoke or clouds can be, how they can make something so large as an entire mountain disappear. On the way home, the smoke was gone and I discovered that at the far end of the lake there was just that – a massive, beautiful mountain (photos shown later in this post). But at the time, all I saw was the pile of logs congregating at the near end of the lake, layer upon layer of tree covered hills rising from the far shore, and where I now know the mountain stands, I just thought the hills continued, the area above the end of the lake simply open sky. High up in that open sky the sun’s edges were defined and her colour faded from her normal blinding gleam as she struggled to pierce the blanket of smoke separating her from earth’s surface. On the beach, waves lapped the shore and the wind tugged my hair.

    whistler

    Just as we were losing the little bit of light making its way through the smoke, we arrived in Whistler. After driving around the block twice to find our check-in location, and another two times to find the parking garage for our AirBnB, Jaime and I walked into what has to be one of the most impeccably decorated and seriously adorable AirBnBs. Look at her!!!!

    Later that evening we were joined by Marie, Katie, and Justine – reuniting us for the first time in over a year. Since we had all lived together and seen eachother everyday in university, this was a very long time for us. Can we all agree that the worst part of finishing university is moving to different cities, away from your best friends? Anyone else feel this way too?

    Saturday

    The night brought rain, and the morning brought clouds and no smoke. We gave up the idea of hiking, favouring instead a quieter day, which we started by wandering to get breakfast and coffee from Purebread. I got a “Homity Pie” and can I just say, WOW. If you’re in Whistler, go try one. 

    After breakfast, we took ourselves, our coffees, and our rain gear to the car. These are the places we chose to explore on a cloudy, rainy day in the mountains.

    green lake

    Because we needed to take some group photos and the colour of this water was too much to resist.

    alexander falls

    Because is a road trip through any mountains really complete if you don’t see at least one waterfall?

    whistler brewing co

    Because the girls all enjoy beer and why not try something local? I am not a beer drinker so took the role of driver but the girls all seemed to enjoy their drinks (preferring the paler ales), and while I took no photos on my camera, here are some from my phone.

    lost lake

    Because it’s quiet and calm and I didn’t think a trip to Whistler would be complete without visiting this lil lake. 

    Sunday

    When we awoke in the morning, the sky was peppered with clouds over a solid base of blue. After smoke and rain it was a welcome change. We moseyed around the apartment, packing up our belongings, and taking a necessary group photo. After dropping our things off at each of our vehicles, we wandered around the village, getting a much needed morning coffee, and visiting the market (where I got a basket of fresh raspberries – one of my favourite things). 

    whistler to Kamloops

    As the morning drew to a close, we said our goodbyes, with hugs all around, and set off for home. The drive itself was amazing, start to finish. Mountains I hadn’t known where there towered on either side of the road, glaciers settled high on their peaks. As we got closer to Lillooet, the mountains were replaced by cliffs, 90 degree verticals blocking out the sun on one side of the road, while canyons plunged below us on the other side. The road seemed windier and the hills steeper in the clear air. My eyes flicked between the road and the mirrors, showing what you’ve just driven by from a whole new perspective. One of my favourite parts of driving is looking in the side mirrors or the rear view mirror and seeing a mountain, watching as it fades into the distance or vanishes behind another mountain or hill or trees. 

    I promised Jaime the way home would not take as long as the way there, and I had no desire to finish the drive in the dark, so we only made two photo stops on the way home.

    duffey lake

    The first was at Duffey Lake, which looked entirely different on this sun and clouds Sunday than it had two days earlier.

    somewhere on the side of the road

    The second was at a random pullout somewhere, I don’t know where, and I don’t recognize this stretch of road from the drive to Whistler. But there it was, and here it is.

    We did have one more stop on our way home – the A&W in Cache Creek, where we took a moment to sit in the parking lot and munch on some fries (yam fries for me). There’s something about fries that I find irresistible after a road trip or a hike.

    THE END

    This weekend was special for many reasons. Though I turned the drive there into a sightseeing adventure, our time in Whistler was more about catching up, laughing and crying while we stayed up till 4am talking about anything and everything. It was about connection, being able to hug each other, and see each other not through a phone screen. As I sit here on my couch, back to working from home, back to seeing only those in my immediate bubble, I can’t help thinking about how human connection is a gift. How we were lucky to have this weekend. And how very excited I am for next September, when I hope it is safe to again gather for a weekend with friends, so we can repeat this Whistler weekend getaway and make it a tradition until we are old and grey.

    For everyone who made it this far, that’s the end. Thank you for reading. And if you’re stuck at home like me (or even if you’re not), I hope you have some weekend adventures to look back on that make you smile. I’d love to hear about them in the comments, if you’d like to share.

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