Border Crossing

A weekend in Squamish

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

For years, Squamish was little more than a gas stop on the Sea-to-Sky Corridor for skiers making a beeline for Whistler. Over the last decade, though, the city of 19,000 has gained recognition and acclaim for its own unique attractions that easily satisfy visitors in search of fun and adventure. And, since it’s only a two-hour drive from Bellingham on Highway 99, it makes for an easy weekend away.

Squamish sits in the shadow of the Stawamus Chief, a precipitous granite mountain revered by serious rock climbers the world over. The Chief overlooks the city and Howe Sound, a picturesque fjord that empties into the Strait of Georgia. It’s also on the banks of the Squamish River, and it’s here our weekend began on a clear, wintry November morning.

Snug in waders and waterproof boots, we stepped onto the rocky Squamish riverbed, walked knee-deep into the current and had our first-ever lesson in fly-fishing. Around us the eagles were calling, filling the crisp morning air with their beautiful, distinctive cries. They knew these returning salmon were nearing the end of their lives, and it was easy to tell they were hungry for the rich, pink flesh. 

You can’t visit Squamish without admiring the Chief, but we were determined to do more than look at it. The first of the Chief’s three peaks involves hiking to an 1,800-foot elevation, some of it up wooden stairs built into the well-worn trail, and other parts boulder hopping. The route is steep and taxing, but for those with the stamina to complete it, the Chief promises the reward of spellbinding views and brilliantly clear waterfalls that cascade over the rocks. Do this hike, and I can guarantee you’ll sleep well that night.

We stayed up long enough to dine on beer-battered chicken wings and lamb burgers smeared with rich fruit chutney at the Howe Sound Brew Pub, washing them down with a flight of the brewpub’s superb beer. Squamish’s craft tasting trail boasts three breweries and a craft distillery. But the hike had us spent, so we made it to just one before turning in.

The cold was taking its toll on our last day in town, so we headed south down Highway 99 to tour the impressive Britannia Mine Museum. Seventeen percent of the world’s copper was mined here between 1900 and 1970, when the low price of copper forced the mine’s closure. Today it’s a museum where visitors in hard hats ride trains deep into the belly of the mountainside. Inside the mine shafts we learned about the hazardous work conditions endured by miners, whose days were filled with darkness, toxic dust, noise and unfathomably heavy labor.

We headed home on the Sea-to-Sky Highway, a route that constitutes one of the many highlights of a Squamish getaway. The circuitous highway runs between West Vancouver and Whistler, delivering inspirational views of the mountains on one side and the Pacific Ocean, dotted with the Gulf Islands, on the other. It’s a quintessential British Columbia experience and the kind of drive that leaves you grateful for the beauty and bounty of the Pacific Northwest—and longing to return.

For more details, go to http://www.exploresquamish.com

First Congregational Church
More Outdoors...
Festive Fidalgo
A pre-Christmas getaway

The Christmas season is upon us, so if you need a break from your shopping list, consider a quick jaunt to Anacortes. The city’s spectacular ocean views will rescue you from your winter blues, and its delightful mom-and-pop stores on Commercial Avenue promise a welcome break from big-box…

more »
Champions of Yes
Join the Jingle Bell Run

You might not know it by looking at them, but Karen Klokkevold and Brittany Western have a lot in common.

One thing the two women share is that they are both living with arthritis. Klokkevold was diagnosed with aggressive osteoarthritis in both of her hips in her mid-30s, and had her…

more »
Going Viking
A ski to sea saga

When I caught wind that an Anacortes-built Viking ship was scheduled to launch at Deception Pass State Park on the same Saturday as Bellingham’s 18th annual Scandinavian Fair, an instinctive yearning to assail both events compelled me to embark on a multistage voyage through formidable…

more »
Holiday Festival of the Arts

10:00am|4145 Meridian St.

Santa's in Town

10:00am|Yeager's Toyland

Winter Art Camps

10:00am|Bellingham Arts Academy for Youth

Cross-Country Skiing Basics


VB Reads

7:00pm|Village Books


8:00pm|Bellingham Public Library


9:30pm|Green Frog

Bellingham Farmer’s Market
Holiday Festival of the Arts

10:00am|4145 Meridian St.

Santa's in Town

10:00am|Yeager's Toyland

Bread and Philanthropy

8:00am|Avenue Bread

Bellingham Mysterians

4:00pm|Village Books

Upcycled Wrapping

5:30pm|North Fork Library

All-Paces Run

6:00pm|Fairhaven Runners

Ski and Snowboard Tuning Basics


Bellingham Reads

6:30pm|Bellingham Public Library

Amahl and the Night Visitors

7:00pm|Lincoln Theatre

A calamitous Christmas


Ladies of Shred

7:00pm|Aslan Brewing Co.

Books on Tap

7:00pm|North Fork Brewery

Skagit Folk Dancers

7:00pm|Bayview Civic Hall

Comedy Open Mic


Setzer Bellingham Farmer’s Market
Holiday Festival of the Arts

10:00am|4145 Meridian St.

Santa's in Town

10:00am|Yeager's Toyland

Deck the Old City Hall

12:00pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Pizza Class

3:00pm|Appel Farms

The Lights of Christmas

5:00pm|Warm Beach Camp

Kids and Cookies

5:30pm|Ferndale High School

Christmas in Japan

5:30pm|Semiahmoo Resort

Holiday Soup Potluck

6:00pm|Sumas Library

Group Run

6:00pm|Skagit Running Company

Group Run

6:00pm|Skagit Running Company

Creekside Open Mic

6:30pm|South Whatcom Library

Community Sing-Along

7:00pm|Ferndale High School

Blue Christmas

7:00pm|First Congregational Church of Bellingham

The Wizard of Oz

7:00pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Saul Cline Trio

7:00pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Scottish Dancing

7:30pm|Fairhaven Library

see our complete calendar »

Wizard Setzer Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 Village Books Bellingham Farmer’s Market Trove