A few months ago, I waxed poetic about the fantastic Sea to Summit trail that winds from the bottom of the Chief up to the top of the Sea to Sky Gondola.
I put in a good three or four solo autumnal Sea to Summits until the rainy season set in, the days got shorter, and the motivation dissipated. But this past weekend, it was so beautiful and perfectly sunny – in the middle on January, no less – that I felt I would be insulting the Squamish weather gods if I didn’t go outside and enjoy it while it lasted.
(Sure enough, the forecast says rain, rain, and more rain for the next little while.)
Although we had a good chunk of snow over the holidays, sun and rain have washed away most of it. I spied a few Sea to Summit hikers on Instagram and determined that it was probably in fine shape for hiking, so I laced up my trail runners (and threw my spikes in my running vest) and headed up.
The trail was actually busier than I expected. Not only was it a weekend (and a stunning one at that), but it was “Social Sunday” on the Sea to Sky Gondola – meaning live tunes, board games, and pancakes (I think. I didn’t actually go into the lodge at the top on this trip, but I get the promotional emails.)
Still, it was relatively quiet. Though I passed a few groups of happy hikers, I felt like I had the trail to myself most of the time.
I didn’t need the spikes for a long, long time. For the bulk of the way, the trail ranged from completely clear to pretty clear. Any snowy bits were sparse and easy to plod through. The lower three quarters of the trail were maybe a little wetter than usual, and there were streams where I hadn’t noticed them in the summer.
Things started to get snowier where the trail splits into the logging road portion towards the top. I popped on my spikes, though it is debatable whether or not I really needed them.
There were some slippery spots where I was glad to have them, but there were also rocky bits were I had to tread lightly, trying not to wear out the metal. There were also lots of wet sections – some you could detour around, others that required you to walk right through. My feet got pretty wet, but it was close enough to the top that I didn’t really mind.
I leapfrogged with another solo hiker for the final stretch of the trail, who had been out with friends but opted to run ahead of them to burn some energy. I can relate – while I love heading outside with buddies, sometimes it’s nice to just power up solo to clear your head and get your heart rate up.
So, there you go. This isn’t a groundbreaking post, but I thought that there may be a few people out there contemplating hiking the Sea to Summit who might like a trail condition update. Of course, things are likely to get a lot wetter with the rain coming our way – and if it’s cold enough, we could get more snow, especially at higher elevations. In fact, I would be perfectly fine with some snow higher up – I’m dying to do some snowshoeing this winter.