On a bright blue summer day, we flew from our home airport of CYPK (Pitt Meadows, BC),
up the pretty ocean passage of Howe Sound, and through the Cheakamus River valley to Pemberton Airport (CYPS), elevation 670ft, Traffic 123.20, Right hand circuits for 24.
En-route, we passed the stark, pink-hued Garibaldi Peaks, a potentially active stratovolcano that the local indigenous people apparently call Nch’kay, which means “Dirty Place” or “Grimy One”.
Our fly-by photo doesn’t quite capture the stunning shades of blue of nearby Garibaldi Lake.
Black Tusk is a fantastic navigation point. You know you’re following the correct river and valley when you see this daunting spire of volcanic rock towering like some dark lord from Mordor, 7,608 ft above sea level.
Due to the height one must fly at through the valley pass, upon turning the corner and reaching Pemberton, it’s a bit of a dive from 5000 some-odd feet to circuit height, but the wide, pastoral valley bowl of Pemberton gives one the opportunity to do just that.
Upon landing, we tried to call the Pemberton taxi, having decided to hike and swim around One Mile Lake in Pemberton. Alas, they weren’t answering their phones.
Pemberton Airport is an odd airport; it has a terminal that feels much like a war-time bunker, deserted save for a sprawl of stored furniture; a bare pilot room with a couch, a desk, and a phone, and high school-style washrooms. Doors airside into the terminal were open; doors roadside into the terminal were locked– go figure. I’ve never been to such a lifeless, spiritless airport in my life. Not a living soul was to be seen, save for two Air Ambulance pilots awaiting their pickup, dozing on the mismatched warehouse furniture, cheerful to chat with us once we’d inadvertently woken them.
Using our handheld radio to listen for air traffic, we walked to the end of runway 06 to access The Meadows at Pemberton Golf Course (perched at the end of 06) in hopes of shedding light on the taxi issue. The uncut grasses were waist-to-chest high, save for where a beaten path had been trampled down by some intrepid vehicle at some point over the summer. The sun at high noon was a blistering 34 degrees out, and David’s old knee injury began playing hell with him.
Upon reaching the golf course, the young men working in the golf shack informed us that the Pemberton taxi owner had retired some time ago and that there was no longer a taxi service in Pemberton. Whistler taxi was looking to buy up the company, but not wishing to wait until they did, we asked (begged/pleaded) to rent one of their golf carts for the purpose of reaching the river, so that we could cool off and eat a very late picnic lunch. After some hawing and humming, they agreed to assist, and one of the young men gamely led the way in his golf cart, across the very long beautiful green, to the start of the Green River Horse Loop trail head. For trails in Pemberton, see:Pemberton valley trail map
We took the cart only as far as the end of the long golf course, parked it in a shady grove in the golf course service area, and after a shockingly dusty tramp to the river along the forestry Green River Service Road (it was like wading through talcum powder), we were rewarded with a very fetching view of the Green River.
Baking hot and liberally powdered in dust, we charged into the river… only to squeal with shock from the glacial cold and quickly leap out again. One does eventually reach a certain numbness, we discovered, if one stands in it long enough, and then wading is possible, but swimming was out of the question. Even the panting dog went in only the once!
As we were running very low on time, we briskly headed back to our golf cart, but before hopping back into it, we crossed the airport road and snapped a quick photo of Lillooet River.
Our golf-cart guide showed up exactly on time to lead us on the cross-country back over the gently rolling golfing green lawns, and we thanked them profusely for saving our day (and David’s knee) and making our trip up to Pemberton worthwhile.