The Chief

The Stawamus Chief hike is one of the classic hikes that's easily accessible from Vancouver. Round trip to the second peak is somewhere in the loose ballpark of three or four hours depending on fitness levels and how long you spend at the top.

It's probably my favourite hike.

I did it for the first time at about sixteen or seventeen years old with my swim team as a fun training exercise. Following that, I have done the hike ten or so times subsequently. The last time before this past weekend was, I think, ten years ago.

The hike gains something like 600m of vertical in a couple of kilometers of trail. It's largely stair climbing the whole way. But towards the top it gets rockier and narrower in a few places. There are ladders and chains bolted in to the rock to hold on to. There are some narrow chasms you have to walk through. And one or two places where you have to actually do a tiny bit of climbing.

In short, it's hard, fun and you end up with a spectacular view.

One of my goals for this summer was to take Isaac up. He is fit enough and cautious enough that I both knew he could make it and wouldn't be a danger on any of the exposed cliffs.

Taking a quick rest before starting down the most technical part of the climb.

So this weekend we went. We got there fairly early and avoided most of the crowds. Isaac found it particularly hilarious how sweaty we all got even when we weren't going very fast. He thought the parts where we had to actually climb were pretty fantastic and wanted to do more.

On the way down as we passed the trail cutting up to the first peak, Isaac suggested that we should probably do that one as well. Ross and I convinced him that it probably wasn't a good idea as we still had a lot of downhill to go. Ultimately, with another -200m of vertical descent under our belts he agreed that perhaps his legs were a bit like jello.

Today he complained a bit about sore legs. He wants to go again next year.