Monday, June 10, 2013

Hiking The Chief in Squamish

It was pretty much mandatory that Dave and I take my sister, Markie, for a hike in these mountains while she was visiting me in Vancouver last week, so last Sunday we packed some bags, laced up our sneaks, scooped up our friend Evan and the four of us headed north of Vancouver to hike the Stawamas Chief in Squamish. "The Chief," as it's affectionately referred to around these parts, is basically an enormous rock protruding from the earth. Peep it:

the chief in squamish
.  the agro crag  .

Here's where it is, in relation to Vancouver:

vancouver to squamish

We knew this would be a short (distance-wise) but steep hike, so we expected quite a workout... and that's definitely what we got! I'm kind of terrible at describing hikes using details that legit hikers would use, so I will keep this description pretty non-technical and mostly just let you enjoy these sweet pics.

views from shannon falls parking lot
.  views from the parking lot  .

After a short walk through the woods we got to a set of steep wooden stairs at the trailhead, and we immediately began walking UP. Like, straight up. As we ascended, our trail switched between worn dirt trails peppered with huge boulders and fresh-smelling cedar staircases. The steep trail was packed with people, which made it slow going in parts.

stairs up stawamas chief trail

The reason for the abundance of people was the beautiful day, so we couldn't really complain. The trail offered 3 different summit options, and we passed the 1st summit without checking it out because we wanted to save our energy for higher views.

stawamas chief trail roots and rocks
.  a look at some of the trail on the way up  .
views from chief trail in squamish
Nearing the 2nd summit, things got quite interesting. The second summit was basically a massive and steep rock with one narrow, tricky pass up - which many people were also using to get back down as well. The pass was so narrow that you couldn't fit two people through it, width-wise, so everyone at the bottom needed to wait patiently for a lull in the hikers coming down before we could begin our ascent up. It actually took us getting into some arguments with the people coming down before we could finally convince them to stop descending so that the group of patient hikers below could finally get out of the tiny pass we were crammed into and continue ascending the mountain.

This narrow pass had chains drilled into the side of the rock to use as aids for ascension:

chains near second summit of the chief in squamish
Once we made it beyond this pass, there was just a short climb further before the second summit. There we sprawled out with the others who'd made it up and ate our lunch while checking out the views.

views from second summit of the chief
.  you can see people on top of the rock across the way  .

david checking out views from summit of chief in squamish
.  david seeing what he can see  .

summit pictures the chief squamish
.  me and markie  .
logging view from summit of the chief in squamish
.  logging situation happening far below us in the water  .
panoramic view from second summit of the chief
.  panoramic view from the second summit  .
summit pics from stawamas chief
.  posing on the summit  .
.  evan, me, markie  .
Rather than try to make it back down the same way we came - which would require us having to try to go through that same narrow pass with epic wait times - we decided to take a trail that passed the third summit and looped back around the mountain until eventually meeting up with the original trail we'd come up.

mount garibaldi from chief trail
.  awesome view of mount garibaldi as we descended  .

This way ended up being a little less packed than the trail we'd taken up, but still busy for sure. And it was a total scramble down - roots, rocks, fallen trees. It looked like an avalanche zone that happened to have a sometimes discernable path marked by yellow diamonds nailed to the trees. It was also just as steep as the climb up had been.

hiking down the chief trail
.  a view of what we were hiking down  .

Definitely the kind of terrain that you want to be ultra careful making your way down. Especially if you've ever had any knee problems, which Markie and I both have! #SisterACLIssues.

We were all sufficiently tired after this hike - it was a great workout! The hour spent sitting and resting on our ride back to Vancouver was welcome.

Check out pictures from other hiking adventures here!

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1 comment:

  1. That looks like such a fun time! I'm so impressed...chains and everything!


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