My 28th birthday just passed, and–no word of a lie–it was one of the best weeks of my life!
The amazing week started a few days before my birthday. Mike arranged to have my friend Lauren fly in from Toronto, and they set out an elaborate plan to make it a surprise.
It was a typical Wednesday and Mike made it seem like he was passing through town during work and just decided to come home for lunch for a change. I whipped up some sandwiches and as he walked in the door, he mentioned that he wanted to load the truck with the garbage and recycling for the dump before eating. He asked if I would help quick, I said yes, and that’s when I saw the truck and noticed something colourful in the back under the canopy. As I opened open the cover door, balloons flew out to reveal a pair of legs. I was confused, but then all of the sudden, out popped my friend Lauren! Needless to say, I was overwhelmed and in shock in the best way imaginable!
I spent Wednesday through Friday touring Lauren around Squamish and Whistler, showing off everything that’s made me come to fall in love with the west coast.
By the time Saturday arrived, I was excited all over again. I knew some other surprise had been brewing, but all I was really told was to dress for cold weather. The only other clue I had was that level two bear mace was required as part of our gear, that Piper was coming, and that she had her own set of gear!
Just after 9am, we all hopped in the truck and took off. After a short drive north, we arrived at Blackcomb Aviation and, at this point, things began to reveal themselves. We’re going in a helicopter!? To?…
I quickly learned that we were flying up the Tantalus Range to Lake Lovely Water, which is exactly what it sounds like: a lake on top of a mountain.
Piper’s gear turned out to be a pair of ear muffs—specifically Mutt Muffs—and our pilot triple-checked that Piper was good to go, both gear-wise and in temperament. Turns out, she was only the second dog in history to ever have done this trip!
The helicopter ride up was surreal. A look out the windows at the Tantalus Range took my breath away, and a look inside the helicopter did the same. Watching as Piper gazed out the window in her adorable muffs was the greatest birthday gift of all.
The helicopter trip took us to a flat summit on Tantalus Range where there is no helicopter pad or staff to help us unload. Just a big, flat pile of snow!
While we lowered to the ground, a flurry of snow whipped up around us and it was time to grab our things and hop out.
We were taught how to operate the doors before takeoff, and told to stay crouched in the snow—an arms-reach from the chopper—until it ascended away. It went from loud and windy to still and quiet in an instant.
The hike to the lake took about 10 minutes and Piper led the way all the while. While marked with small orange triangles on trees, the trail was admittedly hard to find, so we relied on Piper’s nose to blaze for us. We knew we were close when we passed Tantalus Hut, the most quintessential ‘winter cabin’ you’ve ever seen.
When we first caught glimpse of Lake Lovely Water, it lived up to its name. The sun had yet to crest over the range, so while it was bright and sunny out, the lake and surrounding ranges were cast in a dreamy shadow.
The water was so still, it looked as though a mirror blanketed the earth to reflect the view of the sky and mountains. The air was crisp, the snow was fluffy, Piper was in heaven, and I was feeling pretty damn grateful. It was honestly magical!
After enjoying the views of the lake and exploring a bit, we set up the dock with the gear Mike brought in the backpack —which turned out to be a portable propane cooktop and ingredients to make pancakes! It also included popping some Veuve and making our own mimosas. How cool!
We ate, celebrated, shouted in search of our own echoes, and explored the myriad campsites (essentially wood platforms big enough for a 4-person tent) and surroundings.
By the time we got back home, it was 2pm. We recounted the experience over late-lunch, which included a more adventurous ride back to sea level, dipping up and down the mountains.
To top it all off, we enjoyed the Squamish Santa Clause Parade that night and some hot, greasy Chinese food afterward.