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Whistler, BC, Canada (1 of 2)

My drive continues to be breathtaking; the mountains get higher as I get closer to Whistler. I am staying in a hostel for the next nine nights. I settle in my room and put my food into a bin with my name in the refrigerator. It is a well-organized hostel, but one big issue for me is that the rooms have no air conditioning. By one a.m., I can't take it anymore and go down to my car to sleep in my bed where it is cooler (I do that every night). Now I know what your next question is, why then stay in a hostel? When I checked for a campground in Whistler, I was shocked to find out how expensive a tent site was, so I checked for other accommodations and found this hostel. The price is pretty much the same, but it's worth staying in the hostel even if I'm not sleeping in it. There are many benefits that help me get the most out of my time exploring Whistler. One big one is I don't have to worry about keeping my cooler packed with ice. Making food and sandwiches for the day is much quicker. Washing dishes is one, two, three, and, of course, a shower is next door. The hostel's amenities save me time, so I can be on the trails early and avoid the heat and the crowds. I feel I am the only English-speaking person here. I am, for sure, the oldest. Most of the young travelers are from Europe, and I rarely hear English.

Let the hiking begin! Whistler has been on my map for many months before I left home. I am so excited I am finally here. Today, I am driving an hour north to hike to Joffre Lakes. I got my free day pass (you can apply two days in advance at the BC Park website), so I am good to go. It is a cloudy morning with gray clouds covering the top of the mountain range, but you can still get a sense of the enormous height they carry.

It's about a 5-mile hike in and out and is labeled hard. Only after a mile and a half do I understand why it's considered hard, but not as hard as the hike to Stawamus Chief I hiked two days before. By now, the clouds are gone, and the sun is in full bloom. The mountains came out from their hiding, and the view is gorgeous. The sound of the rushing river down the valley is always music to my ears. The hike goes through three lakes and a waterfall (Holloway Falls). Just as I turn a corner when I get to the second lake, I stop in my tracks. Honestly, I could not move. The color of the water is nothing like I have ever seen. It is a happy, peaceful blue with the right amount of green to give it its magic power over my emotions.

This a very popular hike and you can't escape the crowds, so when I have a moment alone as I leave the third lake, I stop to enjoy this moment and the sounds of the melting glacier flowing into the lake. Those are the moments I cherish deeply when it is just me and nature.

To get my bearings of the area, I stop at the visitor's center in the village. I am a visual learner, and having a map and an expert on the area is a quick way to get myself set to explore. Of course, I did my research before getting here, but I always find that stopping at a visitor center reveals new information.

No matter where you are in Whistler, you are surrounded by endless mountains; if you never leave Whistler, one can think that is how the rest of the world is. One way to get a closer experience of this magical beauty is by taking the gondola up the mountains of Blackcomb and Whistler. You can visit both mountains in one day, and the gondola system here is fantastic and fun, but I want to take my time hiking both mountains, so I buy the season pass.

It is another beautiful day here in Whistler. I hop on the gondola to the top of Blackcomb, but by the time I arrive, the sun is hiding behind the clouds. My first reaction is, please sun, come back. As I start my hike to Decker Loop, I get an appreciation for the layers of clouds that takes the direct sunlight from my landscape. The lack of sun mutes the colors before me and enriches them to a warmer tone. I am in awe! I can't take my eyes off the canvas before me. It is a painted art of layers and layers of colors dancing in beautiful harmony. The gray mountains in the background top with the contrast of the white snow is one of my favorites, but then adding the rustic brown with the hint of terra-cotta or the sage from the mountains' resting underneath is a gift. The tall trees add hunter-green color to this palate, and the grass provides the perfect soft green. It is impossible to capture this in a photo; I hope one day to paint it and recreate this flawless balance of colors. I leave my picture behind me as I continue hiking to enter a dramatic view as clouds hover over a massive range of glacier mountains, telling me a story of power and love. Decker Loop is quite a challenging hike; especially when you need to be a mountain goat to jump from boulder to boulder. As I am hiking back to catch the last gondola, the sun is out, and my beautiful colors slowly fade, but then the perfect sunlight shines on the many wildflowers filling my heart with another blooming day.

I need to give my back a rest; wearing the back brace is excellent as it does help me to continue hiking, but I don't want to depend on it. I need to keep my core strong. Tomorrow, I have a long hike of 12 miles to Garibaldi Lake. Therefore, today is a relaxing day. Just a short walk from my hostel, I am at the trailhead for the Train Wreck. The Train Wreck is a collection of graffiti train cars in the middle of the woods. To get there, I cross a suspension bridge above the Cheakamus River. At first, I did not understand the fuss, but when I got there and walked around, I got it!

A Short drive and a short walk, and I am enjoying another tall waterfall. Brandywine Falls is mighty and hypnotizing.

I am looking for a quiet lake to sit down for a relaxing read. On the way, I see a bear cub on the side of the road. I am not planning to stop and take a picture and interrupt his peace, and of course, I'm not waiting for his mother to join him. It's a good reminder that I'm in bear country and must keep diligent as I hike and camp. In the end, I stopped at Green Lake Park for some perfect quiet time.



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