The Stawamus Chief is a well know hike in Squamish, BC, Canada to say the least. It’s towering granite monolith overlooking the glistening straight and the town. It almost feel like a vigilant guardian hovering above. I hiked the Chief in many occasions before, but it had always been the Second and Third Peak. Perhaps the local heat wave was causing a short circuit in my brain, I decided the First Peak would be an worthy objecting under the unrelenting sun on a lazy afternoon.
As I parked my car and glanced at the vehicle thermometer, it was reading a toasty 28 degrees Celsius. I looked longingly at the air vents of my car and I wish I could take the air conditioning with me. I shut the car off and made a hasty departure before the inevitable tears goodbye from the polar condition inside my vehicle. I was thrust into wall of heat not unlike a lingering hug from a sweaty football player. Make that 15 players surrounding you. The Chief was a prankster in a way. Just as I was questioning my decision, I was greeted with a beautiful shaded path and serene campground. The mountain was talking to me and it said “See, it’s not so bad!”.
As I breathed a sigh of relief, I was greeted with the sight of never-ending stairs. This was not a surprise, but it felt like a swift kick in the butt when my pores were shooting out sweat. As I made my way upwards and hell-wards, I was witnessing weary hikers gingerly moving down the stairs. I am sure they were also lured by the sweet nothings whispered by the mountain.
The hike took me through beautiful forests nestled next to the exposed rock face. The giant granite was a constant but inconspicuous companion all the way up the mountain. Nearing the top of First Peak, there were steel ladders bolted into the mountain to assist hikers. The granite started to reappear from beneath the soil and you began to understand how extraordinary this single mass of rock really was.
At the top of First Peak, there were exactly three people there other than myself. I didn't stay around for long since I decided earlier that sunscreen was an unnecessary burden on me and would only slow me down. Nobody said you had to be smart to enjoy hiking! I took a few pictures and ate the half-melted protein bar before heading down the mountain. The decent proved to be a much easier affair, for the most part. The downward momentum sometimes caused a little trouble in the stopping department, but it added greatly to the excitement department.
The sight of the pesky stairs seemed much more manageable from the top end. I knew I was almost home free. As I walked back to my car in the parking lot, I realized that I did not miss the air conditioning all that much. It appeared that I didn't think too much of anything. That was as good of a reason to hike as the scenic reward at the top.