Across Canada – Comox, BC to Hope, BC
For my last night with Richard and Karina we went out for Thai food before playing some board games with a bottle of wine. A very nice way to end my time in Comox with good friends, before an early start the next day to get the ferry to the mainland.
I was heading to Squamish but first stopped off at Capilano suspension bridge in North Vancouver. As well as a pretty impressive suspension bridge they have a “canopy walk” where you walk high up in the trees and a “cliff walk” where you walk on a platform around a vertical rock face.
On my way up to Squamish I also stopped at the the very interesting Britannia Mine Museum. They have preserved and restored much of the old mine and I also took a guided tour into the mine.
Once I arrived in Squamish I spent a couple of days with Sam and Lucy who have been staying in the area with a HelpX host. We went to see some of the sights around town, and took in the stunning scenery. We stuck to some less strenuous routes but made the mistake of following Sam on a route he swore was “pretty flat”.
Of course meeting up with the Brits meant we had to go for a pint and Sam knew of a brewery pub that served proper imperial pints!
After leaving Squamish I carried on up the Sea to Sky Highway towards Whistler. Home to the 201o winter olympics Whistler is a world class ski resort. As the main mountain was closed, as was the gondola (which I had heard offers stunning views) I spent a few hours wandering the town before moving on. Before leaving I had a chance to pay back the car battery gods by helping out a British girl who needed my jump leads and a battery boost!
I was actually wanting to head South but I didn’t much fancy going back to busy Vancouver. I had also heard that the road between Pemberton and Lillooet was a scenic drive so I decided to go up in order to come down. I was not disappointed -the road climbing through snow topped mountain ranges and progress was slow as I kept stopping to take photos!
There were also a lot of recreation sites along the way and I managed to secure a whole site to myself in the mountains. I was warm inside the van but had to defrost the windscreen as temperatures has dropped below zero during the night.
Back on the road the views continued, taking my time and only occasionally pulling over to let others past I pretty much had the roads to myself.
I had read that Alexandra Bridge Provincial Park had good views of the Fraser River around Hell’s Gate. It turned out that the park was closed for the season so I completely missed it whilst driving along, luckily I got chatting to a highway construction worker who told me about a lane which leads to the Alexandra Bridge.
Hope is a small town surrounded by huge mountains where a few of Canada’s highways meet. I thought this would make it an ugly, busy place and I couldn’t have been more wrong. The town was very nice indeed, as were the people and I enjoyed walking around the streets. I popped into a used bookstore and whilst browsing the shelves (I normally head for the travel and running sections!) I noticed that the guy working at the store had a very loud, strange bleating noise as his ringtone. I said as much to him and he told me it wasn’t his phone but a baby goat – I didn’t believe him and laughed it off until a baby goat popped it’s head around the corner!
I was also not expecting to discover that Hope was the setting for First Blood – the first Rambo film where the town get’s destroyed during Rambo’s rampage at the end.
As well as it’s animal friendly bookstores and film notoriety I can also highly recommend the Hope aquatics centre which was quiet (just how I like it – are you seeing a theme?) and had great facilities including a sauna, steam room, hot tub and most importantly showers.
Everywhere I turn are hiking trails and I was hoping to be fit enough to hike the Squamish Chief and explore the Galibaldi Provincial Park. Unfortunately my knee isn’t quite at full strength yet so I have to be patient and forgo the hikes I normally would have jumped at. This took quite a bit of self restraint but I am hoping that my patience will pay off as my trip goes on – especially as I am heading for the Rockies!
My knee situation has shaped the start of my trip quite differently from what I had imagined, as I would otherwise have spent a lot of my time running and hiking. This means I have mainly been limited to seeing the ‘sights’, which I actually haven’t minded. I have been doing things at a pretty relaxed pace and moving on when I feel like it. As it is still a little early in the season a lot of things aimed at tourists haven’t been open which has meant things have been very quiet – which I have been appreciating. Also there is still some snow in the mountains which would have limited or made more difficult many of the hikes I would have been interested in. So while things have turned out a little differently then I expected it hasn’t put a dampener on my enjoyment. That said, I am looking forward to hitting the trails again!