After living the city life for a week it was time to move on to Whistler. Nestled in the Coast Mountain Range, host with Vancouver to the 2010 Winter Olympics and only 2 hours from Vancouver, black bears roam the mountain slopes and the chatter of chipmunks can be heard all around the village.
On the way to Whistler along the aptly named ‘sea to sky’ highway we stopped off at various viewpoints. Firstly at Shannon Falls where a cascade of water from 1100 feet tumbles down a granite cliff face, over granite boulders and under fallen trees.
All along the highway we were treated to brilliant views of the mountain peaks and various glaciers.
Our penultimate stop before Whistler was Brandywine falls. Here we had our first encounter with a Pika, a small chinchilla like mammal. This juvenile didn’t know what to make of us but soon disappeared into the undergrowth.
Brandywine Falls drops through a small outlet creating quite an impressive flow of water, into the awaiting river below.
Our first proper day in Whistler saw us take the chairlift up to the summit of Whistler Mountain. On the way up we were lucky enough to pass directly overhead of one of the resident black bears, it didn’t even seem to notice us. At the summit we took in breathtaking views of the surrounding peaks and valley below, while getting feasted upon by some high altitude mosquitoes.
I took a circular path around some of the peak and sat myself in between some boulders overlooking more boulders and some sparse vegetation.
I soon noticed another Pika who posed well until it was spooked by something…
The ‘something’ soon revealed itself as the area’s inhabitants began alarm calls from beneath their rocks I was joined by an Ermine who came over to investigate me, then went about ferreting between the rocks for its next meal.
After the Ermine had made it’s exit, a fluffy behind soon shuffled out from behind a rock and materialised into a Hoary Marmot. It seemed incredibly approachable and in fact I left it sun bathing on top of a boulder.
Before moving on to the world’s longest cable car ride, a shy chipmunk strayed on to the path and I had time to fire of a few shots.
Between Whistler and Blackcomb mountains they’re now connected by a 2.7 mile long cable car system. The longest unsupported section in the world, stretching 1.7 miles!!
The ride gave great aerial views of the valley but wasn’t one for vertigo sufferers.
Blackcomb was not as full of wildlife being the busier of the two mountains but we were joined by some grey jays at the café who seemed to be after an easy meal.
Yet again the views were brilliant of the surrounding mountain scape and it was a bonus to be able to play in the snow at 25C.
A surprise wildlife opportunity arose on the way back to the chairlift with a pair of approachable ravens, a bird I haven’t ever been able to get so close to in the wild back home.
On the return leg down the mountain we were treated to yet more views of a black bear, possibly the same one from the morning.
The next day we decided to venture outside of Whistler to neighbouring Pemberton with the intention to go horse riding.
The locals greeted us on the pathways…
The horse riding was great but not being use to riding in a saddle (after last years, saddle-less rides in Fiji) the galloping and all round ride did leave me feeling a little sore afterwards.
It was great fun wading through rivers on the horses though and we were treated to an excellent backdrop of mountains too.
The remaining days in Whistler were spent canoeing, relaxing and just general exploring of the area looking for the locals including American Robins, Dark Eyed Juncos, Stellas Jays, squirrels and treecreepers.
After an excellent week in Whistler with more blistering heat, great views and wildlife it was time to leave and embark on our Alaska Cruise.