Getting stuck in a Whistler Gondola and Finding my youth on the River of Golden Dreams


September 7, 2014 by Terumi

whistler with kids

Oh Whistler.  You are always a bundle of fun every time we visit, but I think this summer was the best visit yet.  (We’ve been a bunch of times now and even forgot that we visited when the guys were one.  That’s what happens when you have twins.  The first two years are definitely a blur and if you don’t have pictures of events you forget them.) We knew we wanted to ride the Peak2Peak before ski season because I’m not the biggest fan of being in enclosed spaces, and trying one high above the ground in freezing cold weather might not be the best idea so I thought summer would be a good time.

And we had a meeting with our cabin architect and he mentioned that we MUST go to the River of Golden Dreams while we were at Whistler so of course we took his word for it.

So off we went.  We had a lovely stay at the Pan Pacific Whistler Mountainside and I loved how we could watch the mountain bikers ride down the mountain from our window.

pool at Pan Pacific Whistler Mountainside

We could also see the pool, so it was nice when the hubby took the kids swimming that I could still yell down safety rules at all of them while I lounged on the balcony with magazines.

sitting on the dock at Alta Lake

So after a good night sleep, we woke up and headed to do a self-guided tour of the River of Golden Dreams with Backroads Whistler that starts at Alta Lake and we all managed to fit in one canoe.  The river was really low when we went and we knew we would have to portage at the salmon hatchery and we would have to get out at the beaver dams so we all wore water shoes and clothes that could get wet.

dock at alta lake

At the first portage we saw a lady standing on the dock.  “MS. S!!!”  my high-school self yelled from somewhere within my body.  I nearly bowled my whole family out of the boat while I scrambled onto the dock to say hello and grab her for a hug.  I’m thankful that she humored me and chatted for a while about life while the hubby and the kids managed to get the canoe sorted out.  I am so thankful that I had some pretty amazing teachers when I went to school and this one was always upbeat, smiling and fun to be around.  And she even offered to snap us a family photo. (Thank you Ms. S.)

river of golden dreams

After that event the rest of the trip was pretty mild, but gorgeous and golden and full of sights to see.

river of golden dreams river of golden dreams in whislter river of golden dreams

We kept getting stuck by beaver dams and low water.

oh no, we got stuck again

And the boys thought eating in the canoe was pretty neat too.  We even had to use an empty chip bag to bale out water at points because there was so much water in the canoe from us having to get out and come back in.

river of golden dreams when water it too low

But the adventure was a fun one all the same.  And it was nice having the Backroads company pick us up when we were done.  Our arms were exhausted from paddling for 7 km.  (It is longer than I thought and it took us about 2 hours to complete and the boys paddling often counteracted any paddling we were trying to do, so it made the workout all the more strenuous too)

The afternoon was still young so we headed to the Peak2Peak for the rest of the afternoon.  Kids 6 and under are still free, so it’s a good time to go when kids are still young.  We packed some snacks, some water in our bag and we wore our hiking shoes.

The first gondola was pretty long and then when we were almost at the station to get off the gondola, it stopped.  And stopped.  And stopped for nearly 20 minutes.  It was long enough that I started to sweat and the gondola felt really small.  The snacks and water for hiking proved to be quite helpful, because now they were rations just in case we were stuck indefinitely.  The kids began to ask questions about why were stopped so long but the hubby offered them coloring books and crayons because I was a wreck (THANK GOODNESS HE IS ALWAYS PREPARED!!!) and just as he was getting them out the lift started again and in a few minutes we were off of that machine and free.

I may have kissed the ground.

I was not impressed we still had to do the Peak 2 Peak.  I offered to walk down the mountain and meet them at the bottom.

But there are bears on the mountain, so I told them I would do the Peak2Peak but not in the glass bottom one.

riding the peak2peak

And once I got on it, it wasn’t horrible.  There is enough room to walk around the gondola if you want, there are lots of windows and it is definitely not as claustrophobia inducing as the foggy, smaller gondola we got stuck on.  (The shadow in the picture below is of me, just in case you don’t believe me that I was on this gondola, because I didn’t want pictures of my panic face.)


So I was okay.  And then we had more snacks and drinks at the top of this other mountain which made me like it better too.  (We started at Whistler, and ended on Blackcomb) We even spotted a little marmot (called a whistler) that was really cute.

And on the way down we took open-air chairlifts.

And that’s when we spotted the highlight of the trip.

A baby bear.

bear under blackcomb chairlift

We were close enough to feel like we could almost touch it, but we were way high above it enough to feel like we were safe.

We were still celebrating spying our bear when we rolled into Milestones (My absolute favorite Canadian chain restaurant-I could eat their grilled chicken salad for days!) for a tasty meal to end the day.


And the boys want to go back to see another bear, a cougar and a moose.  They definitely don’t have high expectations or anything.

I’m going to stay away from gondolas for a little while, but I’m thankful for the amazing adventures from the day, from re-living my younger self for a moment, to surviving a scary ride and seeing a bear from far away.  Whistler never fails to amaze me and I can’t wait to go back.





  1. What an amazing adventure and that baby bear is such a highlight. How adorable! We’ve never been to Whistler during summer and you’ve inspired me to look into it. It’s my husband’s favorite ski resort so I think we’ll be there this winter (again). Although, I may give the Peak2Peak a ride this time. Thanks for the Milestones recommendation! Canoeing that River of Golden Dreams looks awesome.

    • Terumi says:

      Let me know when you’re in town-we might head up too:) my guys are finally getting into skiing and whistler is so fun in the winter too!

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