Monday, January 31, 2011

22km and counting...

We had a week of rain last week and then all of a sudden it cleared up and the sun came out again.  So what else to do but head up to the slopes for a little more skiing! :)   This time we went cross-country skiing up in the Callaghan Valley.  If you're not familiar with this place, its a valley about 20 km/12 miles south of Whistler, and it was used as the site for all the Nordic events at last year's Olympics.

There is an extensive network of trails at the Callaghan Valley Nordic center, although only one of them actually goes up the Callaghan Valley to Callaghan Lake and the Callaghan Lodge.  We decided to take that trail - it was 13km on the map and we'd read that coming out was much faster than going in, so we figured we could get to the lodge for lunch, and then get back out in time for the closing of the park.

After a slightly later than usual start (we got to the base at 10:30 instead of our usual 8:30am Whistler starts) we headed out on the trail.  After only a few kilometers, we quickly realized that the reason why all the reports we'd read said that coming out from the lodge was so easy is that the trek in is uphill pretty much the whole way!  (always pay attention to the topo lines on cross-country ski maps!) :)  It wasn't too bad though, and the constant climb brought us some great views of the surrounding mountains and glaciers.
Powder Mountain - look closely at the left near the tree and you can see what look like ski tracks on the glacier.  Anyone up for a little heli-skiing?  :)
Brandywine Glacier (I think).  There were tracks up there too!
After about 2.5 hours of skiing, we made it to Callaghan Lake.  The Lodge was another 4.5 km away, and one of the skiiers we met along the way cautioned us that there was a 500m elevation gain over that distance. (That's quite an incline - by comparison, we had just gained about 490m over the course of the 8.5km we had just skiied!).  
If I look a little puffy here, it was because I had all my layers of clothes on during the lunch stop - it was only about -8 C or so (which is warm for skiing), but the wind was absolutely freezing! :)
Given that it was now coming up to 2pm, we decided to have our lunch at the lake and then head back out the car.  As expected, it was downhill the whole way - it took us about an hour and a half to get back to the trail head, and that included a short stop to talk to a fellow skier, and about 20 minutes to climb the last 2km of trail back to the parking lot - it was all uphill, and we hadn't a smidge of grip wax left on our skiis! :)
A view back down the trail, looking towards Garibaldi Park - you can just make out Black Tusk in the center of the pic.  The tusk is part of an old volcano, and you can climb it in the summer.  It's on our list of hikes to do while we're living in Vancouver!  Anyone want to come with?  :)
I think we'll be doing this route again soon, but next time we'll make sure to get an earlier start.  In an ideal world we'd actually book into the lodge to stay overnight, but at $400 per night (meals included, mind), I'm not sure that's really the best idea just now!  :)

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