For the last couple of years, we have done a weekend getaway with Jon’s family – this year’s we went to Whistler, British Columbia, over the 4th of July holiday weekend. Considering that we never really do much 4th of July celebrating anyway, getting out of the country to see some new scenery seemed like a great idea. Here are the highlights:
The Train Wreck Hike:
This was easily the highlight of my weekend. Everybody except my brother-in-law (who tweaked his back on the way up to Whistler and was sadly laid up the whole weekend) did the hike.
Back in the 1950s, a freight train derailed at the town of Function Junction near Whistler and sent seven freight cars off the tracks into the forest above the mighty Cheakamus River. The railroad decided that it was too expensive to salvage and retrieve the cars, so they left them in the woods. They are still there today, slowly rusting away.
It is about a 3 mile round trip hike to see them, in situ, where they are now covered in spectacular graffiti. One boxcar even has a tree growing up out of the wreckage. The views of the river are amazing too.
Note: If you do this hike, do make sure to not get caught on the tracks, because police do ticket people found there. The hike really only requires you to cross the track once, and walk nearby it for a short period of time. But of course, be cautious of the train, as it is still an active track!
This lake was about a mile from the condo where we stayed. Jon, his Dad and I walked there after dinner one evening. There were lots of people there, a few were even swimming, even though it was after 8 pm. The lake has a nice trail circling it too.
That’s right – I’m now a ziplining veteran! After zipping for the first time in Moab in March, Jon and I decided to try it again with Jon’s sister and her husband. We did the Zip Trek Eagle tour with 5 ziplines.
We went first thing in the morning and there were 10 of us on our tour. The tour starts with a short gondola ride up the mountain and a short hike down to the first zipline. They start you off with a bang – the first line is 2400 feet long with a vertical drop of 30 stories! It is also unique because it has two lines next to each other – so I got to zip next to Jon (well kind of behind, since he stepped off first and he is heavier so he goes faster too).
The other four lines aren’t quite as dramatic, but they offer pretty views of the woods and the river below. On the last zip, you can hang upside down if you want to (I didn’t want to), but some of our group tried it. It is apparently, easier said than done. There are also four suspension bridges that you cross during the tour. They weren’t large, but they were pretty fun to walk across, with a spring in your step – after getting over the fear of course!
Zipping in Whistler was all in all a great experience with friendly guides, but I still loved zipping in Moab more. I love the big trees of Whistler, but maybe because I grew up in the Pacific Northwest with its trees, I am not as awed by them as I am by the stunning red rock formations of Moab. We still had a great time…
The Peak 2 Peak Gondola:
Whistler, although largely known outside of ski circles as just one mountain, actually consists of two peaks, Whistler and Blackcomb. There is a gondola there that takes you to the top of Whistler, and a separate, larger and more impressive gondola that takes you to the summit of Blackcomb. If you are willing to wait awhile, you can even ride in a glass bottomed gondola car (we opted not to).
The Peak 2 Peak portion is 2.73 miles across, traveling over a giant swath of forest and a river. The views are amazing. But summer at the top of Blackcomb Mountain is disappointing, a bare patch of dirty gravel with a couple of concession stands. You can hike at the top, and I am sure that offers a more impressive experience, but Jon and I didn’t have time for hiking, as we needed to get back down the mountain to head home.
I would bet money that the views are far more beautiful in the winter when everything is covered in a blanket of white, but I did enjoy the gondola trip.
Although it was a short getaway, we had a great time sightseeing and visiting with family and would certainly come back to check out more.
Have you ever been to Whistler? What were your favorite parts?