The vice-president of Doppelmayr, the company responsible for installing the Sea to Sky Gondola, is being honoured with the opening of gondola’s newest addition this month.
Sparky’s Spin, a 1.86-kilometre intermediate-level trail set to open on the May long weekend, is named after Warren Sparks, an employee of the lift manufacturer for nearly two decades. The new trail explores the rugged terrain Doppelmayr employees had to hike to gain access to towers during construction of the gondola.
“Warren Sparks was instrumental in the challenges this lift needed to overcome,” said Sue Dixon, the gondola’s operations manager.
Sparky’s Spin links back via the upper Sea to Summit Trail, which weaves its way through granite outcroppings and old-growth forest. Both trails have sweeping views of Howe Sound and the surrounding mountains.
Work on the trail began in the fall but was forced to halt when the mountain had a snowfall, then resumed as soon as the weather cleared up so the trail could be ready for hikers later this month.
“Sparky’s Spin is intermediate level, so some parts are steep with big steps,” said Caitlin Mooney-Fu, the gondola’s marketing coordinator. The trail is appropriate for all members of the family as long as the children are able to climb a flight of stairs comfortably.
The idea for the the trail was sparked after a survey was emailed out to annual passholders. The results indicated they wanted a new, shorter one-hour hike to be added to the gondola’s list of backcountry and other trails.
To prepare for Sparky’s Spin, Dixon recommends carrying water, sunscreen, a watch and extra clothing in case the weather changes, as well as taking note of when the last gondola descends.
Another new addition this year, Al’s Habrich Connector Trail, connects hikers to Al Habrich Trail without having to walk on the forest service road. It can be accessed near the Klettergarden, past the Wonderland Lake Loop Trail entrance.
New events this year
In addition to new trails, the gondola is working on new events that will draw a wide range of people up the mountain, said Mooney-Fu.
“We have a lot of exiting events coming up that we are proud to offer,” she said.
Seniors’ socials are back every Wednesday now that warmer weather has returned. Seniors can take a free shuttle, leaving at 11 a.m. from The Manor in downtown Squamish, to the gondola and take part in interpretive walking tours, board games and have a bite to eat.
The bus returns to Squamish at 2 p.m.
The Friday Night Music Series will kick off on June 24 with a performance by The Hairfamers, a group with a repertoire of 2,000-plus cover songs that has been voted Whistler’s best band since 2001, starting at 6 p.m.
This year’s lineup includes classic rock, European folk, indie soul and world fusion. The Sons of Granville, Bluesberry Jam, The Boom Booms, Tanga and The Ruffled Feathers are on the list.
Before heading up the gondola, guests can meet local vendors at the Friday Night Market at the base which will be held before the music night begins.
The dance floor will also be open until midnight for the Summer Solstice celebration on June 18. In addition to 12 hours of music, the gondola will hold its first nighttime headlamp hike.