“The journey is equal to the destination,” Brent declared about our trip to Whistler as he drove the tour shuttle from downtown Vancouver onwards on the Sea-to-Sky Highway. With a 7am pickup, it would have been nice to nap all the way but Brent’s compelling, juicy narration kept me awake. He talked about the history of the sandwich, the history of “potluck” ( coming from the indigenous peoples’ communal, gift-giving meal, “potlatch.”
Highway signs to Whistler contain translations of places in the First Nations (indigenous) Squamish language. The indigenous language used to be an oral one; story-telling was how how they passed on knowledge. In the 1970’s, the Squamish and Lil’wat First Nations communities developed their written languages.
Alongside the name of “Whistler” is its indigenous name Sk̲wx̲wú7mesh, the 7 in the middle of the word is a guttal stop or what Brent refers to as a “subtle stutter throatal pause gutteral click.” Integrating First Nations culture and language all around Canada is one of the ways to restore to the indigenous people what they lost when foreign explorers came in.
If you get to Whistler, don’t miss the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre for a deeper understanding of the history of the beautiful indigenous people. But we came on a Monday and that is the only day in the week they are closed! Shucks!
As we drove through breathtaking landscape and natural formations, Brent said that in November, they expect foggy, gloomy weather so we were getting a huge bonus that we had sunshine in the forecast on this day.
“What are the chances of getting sunshine in November?” I asked him. “Zero per cent,” came his quick reply. Oh Lord, thank You so much for overriding natural probability and for making this my available day for this tour as well. Super grateful to the skies!
Soon we were at our first stop:
Provincial Marine Park of Porteau Cove, a 50-hectare camping park to swim, windsurf, scuba dive with two sunken vessels for exploring with a ferry terminal for emergencies.
Britannia Mine Museum. If you have the time, you can explore this National Historic Site where you can take a guided mine tour, try gold panning (extract gold), and view a lot of exhibits.
Along the way, peeking views of stunning Mount Garibaldi, the most prominent volcano in British Columbia which is a stratovolcano formed on a glacier.
For a quick second, we see Black Tusk Volcano, another stratovolcano (made of hardened lava, pumice, volcanic ash) whose dome has been eroded through hundreds of years that it has come to look like a narrow tusk. The First Nations Squamish (indigenous people) call it t’ak‘t’ak mu’yin tl’a in7in’a’xe7en, meaning “Landing Place of the Thunderbird” named after the mythical bird in American Indian history to which supernatural power, strength, and the ability to call forth thunder are ascribed.
This is a more distinct even if a bit blurry depiction of Black Tusk Volcano (the black tip above the snow) I caught on highway speed on the way back: