We almost didn’t go.
The weather for our Monday-Tuesday of choice looked iffy in the week leading up. Sure, you can go hiking in the rain, but then it becomes one of those “hurry up and let’s get this over with” kind of hikes, not the “wow, let’s sit by this waterfall for a bit and stare in awe” type. And I far prefer the latter. I adventured through enough bad weather last summer (more on that another time) to last a lifetime. Or at least a couple of years.
By Saturday, we knew we had to pull the trigger one way or another. We checked the forecast and it looked possibly okay, so I sent off an email to the Alpine Club of Canada to book two spots in the Tantalus Hut perched on the edge of Lake Lovely Water. Within an hour, our $25-a-head payment had been sent and we were committed.
When we woke up Sunday morning, the weather forecast for the following days looked gloomy once again. We back-and-forthed about whether we should bail and try to get our money back, then realized we were being babies and would forge ahead, even if it was pouring rain. After all, we’d be sleeping in a hut — not a soggy tent — equipped with a wood stove to dry our wet gear.
The next morning, we headed off to the Squamish Airport to make it all happen. A lot of people start their Lake Lovely Water journey here; typically, they embark onto a float plane or helicopter and marvel at the views as they’re flown up the mountain. That wasn’t quite the case for us. The airport was merely where we were meeting up with Steve.
I’ve discovered that the thing you talk about with other Lake Lovely Water hikers is what method you used to cross the Squamish River. The trail begins on the opposite side of the river, and you need to figure out a way to get there. There are generally two options: by watercraft or by cable. The former consists of canoeing across the river and stashing your boat somewhere or hiring Jet Boat Jay (or, in our case, Steve); the latter involves making your way across the cable car cable that stretches 100 feet or so from one side of the river to the other.
Let’s talk about this cable for a moment. I read a lot about it in my research for this hike, and consulted with my buddy Mike who had tight roped his way across the cable as many others had. There are many ways to maneuver yourself across the river using the cable, all of which sound seriously sketchy. Cedric and I had an idea that involved a pulley system. We headed out the week prior for a little recon, and here’s what we found:
- To get onto the cable, you have to pass through a locked, barb-wired fence.
- Once you climb the ladder to the top, you have to manage your way onto the cable past the cable car itself (maybe this is sometimes at the other side of the river?)
- The top cable has the triangle/ball thingies that are very difficult to bypass.
- The bottom cable is smooth sailing — except it is an inch thick, which is larger than our pulleys could handle.
Luckily, we ran into a couple who were on the lookout for their sweet dog, Eli, who had gone missing in the area. They referred us to his buddy, Steve, who would take us across the river in his boat for $20 a head each way. This was cheaper than the $50 a head (round trip) quote we’d been told was charged by a fellow named Jay. If you research this hike, you’ll see plenty of mentions of Jay. I’d come across a comment that had turned me off from Jay — here’s an excerpt:
I advise anyone heading to this lake who is hiking to find a better way to get there than Jay. He is clearly unreliable and overcharges for his “services”. I am not impressed and wish my experience on NO ONE.
Steve was a welcome alternative. We called him on Sunday to see if he could pick us up from the airport, take us to the river, and shuttle us across. He charged us $10 each way to taxi from the airport to the river, which seemed reasonable — our cars couldn’t handle the dirt road like his truck could, and we’d heard that we should avoid leaving our cars by the dirt road or risk break-ins.
Monday morning at 9 AM, Steve met us at the airport as planned. The couple with the missing Eli were with him — the three of them were going to continue their search that day (as they had every day for the past five weeks). A bumpy drive down the dirt road and a breezy motorboat ride later, and we were waving farewell to Steve, ready to set off for the hike up to Lake Lovely Water … which will be the topic of the next blog post!