Friday, July 27, 2007

Rainbow Lake Trail- Whistler, BC

A friend and I headed out to Whistler earlier today from the comfortable summer confines of Vancouver. The traffic along the Sea-to-Sky Highway is absurd right now with all the construction in preparation for the 2010 Olympics. If you were looking for another reason to question the entire Olympic industry (i.e., rampant consumerism, commodification of excellence, xenophobic nationalism), then a gentle drive down highway 99 from Vancouver to Whistler will perhaps fulfill that promise. Or maybe the push to evict people from the Downtown Eastside will. Either way, I digress.

The Rainbow Lake Trail, which one can access on Alta Lake Road at Twenty One Mile Creek, is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon hiking. From the parking lot on the road, it's a 850m elevation and 8km hike up to Rainbow Lake, the Town of Whistler's source for drinking water.

The hike is a meander through a forest of majestic hemlock tress and giant red cedars, quaint mountain meadows and mossy bogs; all leading up to Rainbow Lake, at an elevation of 1470m. Before arriving, you must cross a generous amount of creeks, perhaps as many as 30, with some very impressive bridges spanning their lengths. How do they construct these structures in such isolated areas?

On this lucky day, July 26th, 2007, the lake was fully surrounded by snow, and mostly covered in ice. This made the final push to get to the top treacherous at times, but the 8km hike up took us more or less 3 hours, with a generous amount of time for photo breaks.

There are a number of great vistas, most notably near km 7, where there's a clear view of Whistler Mountain and the ski slopes. Without a doubt, the best part of the hike was arriving at Rainbow Lake, where we pulled out our lunches and enjoyed our snowy surroundings. Never before had hummus and rice crackers tasted quite so divine.

If you're looking for a good day hike near Vancouver, then this trail may be for you. But plan some extra time to get to the trailhead now that the construction on the highway is going full force. The time to get to Whistler has doubled from the last time I went 5 years ago.

Last thing, use the outhouses provided along the way, this is Whistler's watershed. But if you forget and accidentally pee beside the lake, it doesn't make you a bad person, does it?