The Chief: Escape from the Fog

Dense Fog! Photo: NOAA

Dense Fog! Photo: NOAA

The fog engulfed us for over a week. I woke up each morning just to see a dense grey cloud outside our window, with no sign of the sun. Yes, it led to a mysterious atmosphere: I imagined stalkers lurking, waiting for their prey, and was almost run over by a few cars while riding my bike around town. However, after a few days the fog got kind of old, and we considered praying for the sun to come back. In the end, all that was necessary was a short drive out of town to Chief Stawamus, also known as The Chief.

Sun showing through the trees on the hike up the Chief

During an inversion, cold moist air hangs low in the valley bottoms, while the mountain tops are often warm and sunny. For that reason, the normal tendency to assume that if the weather is not nice in the city it will be worse in the mountains is not a good rule of thumb during inversions. On the drive out of Vancouver, the fog was as dense as ever, and it was indeed hard to believe the sun would emerge. Near Porteau Cove the fog began dissipating, and by the time we arrived to Squamish we were engulfed in warm wonderful sunshine, with blue skies and views of the snowy and pointy Mt. Atwell.

We took a long nap in the sun, on the summit of the Third Peak

We took a long nap in the sun, on the summit of the Third Peak

The Chief is a very popular hike, and for good reason: it is relatively short and easy, but the views are incredible from the top, and one ends up at the top of a huge rock face, the local version of El Capitan. How to avoid the crowds then? Naturally, mid week would be best, but failing that, by the time October rolls around most people have given up on hiking and the hiker stream has dwindled. Another trick we employ is to head directly for the Third Peak, and loop back to the Second Peak and down.

We said goodbye to the sun for a short while at the Chief Stawamus parking lot and headed up the new wooden steps on the trail. Thankfully the steps don’t continue for long, and the sun’s beautiful rays began showing through the trees. Reaching Third Peak, the trail peters out and one is confronted with a beautiful sea of granite, a miniature horizontal version of the Chief’s Grand Wall. The top is a flat slab, perfect for a picnic, and for us – a long two hour nap in the sun. After admiring the views of the snowy peaks around us and the ocean below from both peaks, we headed back down to the car and unfortunately – back to the fog…


Sea of Granite on the Third Peak

Views from the Second Peak

Views from the Second Peak

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3 Responses to The Chief: Escape from the Fog

  1. Squamish rarely has better weather than Vancouver so we take what we can get up here. We only got touched with a bit of fog for an evening and then it was gone.

    Mulligan and Anif make for a great alternative hike to the Chief and zero crowds. It’s super short also with great views of the Sky Pilot group.

  2. Gili says:

    Thanks Leigh! Yes, I’ve heard of Mulligan and I now see Anif would be a natural extension. However, I only recall hearing of people heading up Mulligan in winter or spring, is there a trail, or would it be better to go there with snow on the ground?

  3. Pingback: Mt. Seymour: A Few Favourites - Life in MAGIc Land

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