Level: Difficult

Distance: 12 km r/t

Time: 7 h r/t

Elevation Change: 1036 m

Topographical Map: Brandywine 92J/3

Click to View Map

Season: July to Oct

Access: See Getting to Whistler. Brew Lake must be accessed via the CNR [Formerly BC Railway] right-of-way. Take the bus as far as Brandywine Falls Provincial Park.

Before beginning your hike in earnest be sure to take a moment to check out Brandywine Falls. Brandywine Creek tumbles 66 metres down into a gorge of its own creation, filling the air with a fine cloud of mist. Return to the railway tracks and follow them west towards the Sea to Sky Highway. The rail bed turns abruptly south on the other side of Highway 99, continuing in a straight line for 1.8 km before making another sharp westward turn. Continue along the tracks until just 200 metres before this latter turn where you will find the well-marked trail to Brew Lake and beyond. At all times when following the railway right-of-way remain alert to the approach of freight and passenger trains as well as the fire-suppression crews which follow them.

The elevation gain is unrelenting, rising first over treed slopes then steeper, switching back and forth over rocky terrain. Pause from time to time to not only catch your breath but take in the views across the valley towards Garibaldi Provincial Park. By the time you have dropped down through alpine meadows to the shores of Brew Lake you will have climbed 1036 metres over six kilometres. Small rainbow trout are abundant in Brew Lake. The ambitious could set up a base camp at the lakeside from which to explore the open alpine ridges thereabouts. The route to Brew Mountain continues for 1.6 additional kilometres with a further elevation gain of 280 metres.

The End


Dentalia

Dentalia Shells

These thin, tubular mollusks formed the currency of commerce throughout the Pacific Northwest as long as 3000 years ago. Pre-European civilization is often considered a barter economy, with, for instance, coastal tribes swapping oolichan grease directly for prized Oregon obsidian. Commodity traders, however, could rely on this wampum to close a transaction when interest in the goods was decidedly one-sided. Called hykwa in Chinook jargon, dentalia shells possessed all the necessary attributes of money, being portable, recognizable and durable but rare and desirable enough to foster trade. Being available in a variety of sizes, the tusk-like shells were even divisible into small change. Professional traders are known to have tattooed measuring lines on their forearms as a handy calculator of individual shell values. Only a handful of groups, including the Nuu-chah-nulth in the vicinity of Tofino, possessed dentalia in quantities sufficient enough to make them wealthy. Harvesting the deep water mollusks was no easy undertaking however. From a dugout canoe a long, broom-like apparatus was thrust straight down into the muddy sea bottom then retrieved. With any luck a shell or two would be trapped amongst the stiff twigs at the end of the handle. Dentalia were also ostentatiously displayed as symbols of wealth and power in the form of body adornments. Perhaps most recognizable are the breast plates invariably worn by cheesy Hollywood Indians.

Illustration by Manami Kimura