Goodmorning Squamish! Last night we arrived in a rush, in the dark, in a random empty parking lot, just down from the Sea to Sky Highway. This part of the Route 99 is worldwide known as one of the one of the best roads of the world, to be driven once in a lifetime. We lost the first part in the dark yesterday night, but we will make for it today.
We decide for a breakfast in Squamish town, right in the big Howe Sound, to take some time to decide what to do. It is not an easy task, there is so much to see! In the end, we are up to the well known Sea to Sky gondola,
The way up – compulsory with the gondola, for our lack of time – is already well interesting, with a view over the whole fiord. As soon as we arrive we have to decide: there are so many hiking paths which starts from up here and we just have an hour or so, so we decide for some short loops.
We programmed a nice lunch watching the suspended bridge, but first thing we enjoy another nice surprise. A viewing deck over the fiord gift us a wonderful view: it seems to be suspended over the void, the sea below us and the sky over our heads…the sea to sky gondola it is called and now we can totally understand why.
After the short hike toward the sky, wwe have our lunch with a view on the bridge which crosses the valley. It August 17th and the place is pretty crowded, but not too much lucky us. We can even take a photo with the whole bridge – ok, almost the whole of it- for us, after a lunch with our usual meno: beans, noodles and oriental rice.
Before we take the ride downwards, we still have a handful of minutes for another quick loop and the Wonderland Lake Loop is the chosen one. It brings – guess it! – to the Wonderland Lake. Yes, right as the Alice in Wonderland one and the big blue dragonflies flying around as make up for a magical atmosphere.
In the end, it is time to go and we are satisfied, indeed: in less than a couple hours we walk not one but three loops, the Wonderland Lake Loop, the Spirit Loop and the Panorama Trail. A quick ride down with the gondola and we are back to our car. We immediately hit the road on the Route 99, on the Sea to Sky highway.
We have two stops planned already and the first one are the Brandywine Falls, these 70 meters waterfalls which jump in a canyon carved by the waterfall itself.
The second and last planned stop is the unavoidable, for us mountain lovers, Whistler, the winter sports Mecca on this side of the Earth. Location of the 2010 Winter Olympics Games, we are not capable of avoiding the overrated picture with the five circles. A part of that that, it is a big Bardonecchia and beside the shopping street and the village, there is not a lot left, just the slopes and a lot of people.
After a hypercaloric snack at Starbucks, just to follow the consumistic lead of this trip, we begin to drive the really nice part of this route, even though we still don’t know that.
The Route 99 part known as Sea to Sky highway ends just after Whistler, in Pemberton actually, but up to here there is nothing really remarkable. Don’t get me wrong, we are in Canada and everything is beautiful and the nature is just stunning, but this is just another one of the nice places, nothing more.
But the, after the Sea to Sky is ended, our trip goes on, driving all the Route 99 and then going on towards Kamloops, the place we want to reach, in the worst case, fore the night. And this part of the Route 99 ravishes us, kilometer after kilometer, and we begin to wonder why it is not mentioned in any of the guides and internet pages we have read.
Shortly after Pemberton, we get into the Joffre Lakes Provincial Park, a provincial park barely signed on our map, but totally worth a visit with its turquoise lakes. We sadly have time only to cross it driving
Shortly after, we got to stop another time: the road runs for some kilometers along the Duffey Lake, which ends in a narrower part with lots of dead dried trunks accumulated there. In a matter of second, it comes the challenge: who will go the furthest without a jump in the water? The answer is really easy!
It takes us all of our willpower to hit the road again and our plan to arrive in Kamloops at least for the night seems less and less possible. We stop so many times, would it be for a photo or a quick walk.
We drive for a good lot of kilometers before a motorbike stops in a parking lot and catch our attention. It’s almost sunset and we cannot resist: below us the Seton Lake flows into a long valley perfectly facing West. We have a short walk on the shore, it’s a place pervaded by the utmost calm and we end up sit on a dried trunk on the shore which seems put there on purpose.
Soon after, the sun arrive at the end of its long day and we just enjoy the show, the last very romantic rays of sun, here on the shore.
From here onwards, until the dark will totally comes and erase the landscape, we drive in silence, our folk playlist at full blast and these places we drive through as a movie which runs out of the window. It is hard to believe all of this is real but still, it is all here, on Route 99 between Lillooet and Cache Creek.
The little town full of shacks along the river, the CN-CA train which slowly goes on beside the road – it would not surprise us too much if a group of indians or cowboys will jump on the train now! – the endless dry valley, the indian reserve. Everything is at its place, all the Far West classics are gathered in these few kilometers.
Then the dark comes and only the stars in the sky and the low light of the train down in the valley remain.
We stop in a a pull out along the Kamloops Lake shortly after the town of Savona – yep, they copied us! – for a dinner with a view, thanks to our tested jetboil which in a matter of seconds, warms our canned ravioli, now a basical element of our travel diet.
In spite of the thousand stops, we succeed in our former plan and we pass by Kamloops. In fact, after dinner we decide to drive a while more, passing Salmon Arms and getting slightly before Sicamous. We have driven almost 500 km today, and a lot more are waiting tomorrow.