Saturday, September 10, 2011

Brandywine Meadows

My Thursday walk this week took us out to another new alpine location – Brandywine Meadows.  Situated between Squamish and Whistler on the opposite side of Highway 99 (Sea to Sky Highway) to Brandywine Falls that we’ve visited on previous occasions.  The turn off from Highway 99 is about 1hr30 from home but then there’s another 20 minutes or so covering about 8kms of rough gravel road into the backcountry where the trailhead is located.

The drive up along the Sea to Sky Highway as beautiful as ever with the great weather.  We stopped at a couple of viewpoints North of Squamish on the way up to get these views:







We turn off the main Highway 99 and onto the forest service road which will take us up to Brandywine Valley and the trailhead. 


We get views of Black Tusk across the valley.


The drive alone is spectacular before we even start our walk !



View of Mt Fee (7,093ft)


Eventually after a long ride on the gravel road we reach the parking lot and Mojo gets a well earned drink in the adjacent creek.


Looks like we’re the first one here today.  Infact, as it turns out we’re probably the only ones here today as we didn’t see anyone else for our whole walk and ours was the only car here when we left.


We were reassured to see a sign confirming we were at the right place, there had been no signage since turning off the highway 8kms ago !

IMG_5654 This trail is classified as ‘difficult’ on most walking sites and is certainly much more challenging than others that we’ve done recently.  There are numerous logs across creeks and muddy areas that act as bridges.  You need to be good at balancing, and preferably not have an impatient dog trying to get past you.


The trail is often on tree roots and rocks, climbing over and under fallen trees.

IMG_5656 It is also very steep.  The trail is only 3kms each way but 500m height gain, the vast majority of which is done in the first kilometre !

IMG_5657 A huge fallen old growth tree.


The trail will have once passed this large tree, now it skirts underneath the giant rootball


After a kilometre or so of steeping climbing the trails comes close to the forest edge and the route improves significantly as you get some sunlight in from the opening and it isn’t as steep !


A clearing where a creek cuts through the forest.


More log walkways through muddy sections.



Could use a little trail maintenance here.  Karen, Andy volunteering ?


Here a log is used as a bridge over the creek but then takes a steep incline on the opposite bank.  The alternative is to the root system on the bank as a ladder to get yourself up and down.  I’m glad it was dry today, this wouldn’t have been much fun if it was all slippery and wet.


Mojo finds his first patch of snow.


Soon the trees thin out and, the trail opens up and lots of sun !


Not much further on we’re in beautiful Brandywine Meadows.




Black Tusk (7,608ft) on the left and Mt Garibaldi (8,786ft) on the right.


Lots of small streams flow through the meadows, narrow enough to jump over and great for Mojo to drink and paddle in.


We found the perfect large rock to stop for lunch on.


Panorama view of Brandywine Meadows, once again with the jingle of Mojos bear bell.

After lunch we start heading down to the further end of the meadows.


Warm sunshine, snow and creeks.  Mojo thinks he’s in heaven !


Then he knows he is when he finds a large gorgeously clear creek, fed direct from the snow melt, just deep enough to wade in.


Except one small section of this wade-able creek turns out to be just a little deeper, as Mojo discovered.

More views around Brandywine Meadows.


IMG_5704 Eventually we have to start making our way back down, although we could quite happily spend all day, or weekend here.  We descend the trail, much more quickly than on the way up !  Again, the trail weaves back through the forest and catches up with the creek running through it.

IMG_5706 The it’s back to the parking lot where the creek crashes past.

IMG_5709 The back down the gravel road and onto Highway 99.  Oops, that’ll be the gravel road.  Time to find a car wash !


An absolutely beautiful location to walk in.  Probably won’t be here too often because the season to actually walk here is narrow between snowfalls and you need a good amount of time for the drive up and back as well as being prepared to take on the gravel road.  Completely worth the effort though and I don’t doubt we will be back again one day.

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