Post by Eric Lightfoot, Sea To Sky Air pilot.
Flying any time of year in Sea to Sky country is about as good as flying gets. Period.
That being said, some of the best (of the best) flying I have ever done has happened in October: the changeable conditions, the fall weather patterns, and the early sunsets make for magical sightseeing that you can only get when there is some ‘weather’ around. It truly is one of the best things to do in Squamish in the fall. Blue skies are lovely, but if you’re looking for an awe-inspiring experience you need clouds, weather, and just the right light.
Here’s 4 reasons October is the best month for a sightseeing tour in Squamish:
1. A window onto the changing world of alpine snowpack in Squamish
Snowpack doesn’t just exist on the sides of mountains, but also on the surface of glaciers. As the snow melts through the warm months it increases the definition of the glacier’s form and crevasses. The natural blue colour of the glacier ice becomes more visible and adds to Mother Nature’s palette of colours she can work with.
Also awesome, are the fall colours that come out in the alpine. There are a number of deciduous plant species that become different shades of red and gold. Add those to the palette!
2. Once-a-year phenomenon in Squamish: Glacier Milk
In the summer and early fall when there is generally less precipitation, the water that feeds the falls, creeks, rivers and lakes becomes almost entirely composed of glacier melt. Within the water is the highest concentration of the “glacier flour” or “glacier milk’ of the whole year.
As most of the lakes around the Sea to Sky Corridor have inflows of water as well as outflows, being this late in the season gives the lakes time to gain these higher concentrations of the minerals in the glacier meltwater and shed the clearer water from rainfall and snowmelt. Basically, this means they get really, really, REALLY blue. And awesome.
3. In Squamish, Fall is Mother Nature’s paintbox
This time of year Mother Nature thinks “Hmm, what about if we add some PINK?’”. Well, we have watermelon algae. This is the algae that grows on the surface of whatever snowpack is left. It leaves angel hair-like streaks of bright pink that follow the small lines in the snow that snowmelt finds and makes deeper as the melting continues. The more these melt lines persist and divert more water deeper into the tiny valleys of the ‘angel hair’ strands, the better the conditions for watermelon algae to form. More pink!
So, when you have the increased variety of colours that Mother Nature has to work with, and then add more variable weather in the form of clouds, layers and really unique lighting situations, you have my favourite time of year to go flying.
4. The little things that make Squamish special
Oh yes, and the light is magical. So you’ll get crystal-clear, beautiful to take photos just like this!