We were vagabonding our way through the landscapes of the Cascadia Subduction Zone between Northern California and the southern end of British Columbia. We were headed south towards home, but there were still some pretty intense sights ahead. As we drove down the Sea to Sky Highway back towards Vancouver, we had a chance to check out the awesome cliff of Siám' Smánit, Stawamus Chief at the head of Howe Sound. We got our first look of the immense cliff from several miles upstream at the Tantalus Overlook (below).
One of the agents of erosion that has shaped Stawamus Chief was glaciation. We were at the head of Howe Sound, North America's southernmost glacial fjord, a spot where the ice stream was thousands of meters thick. The ice completely covered the "Chief" and eventually scoured and trimmed the edges of the huge rock.
In the 12,000 years or so since the ice melted back, the scoured and polished surfaces of the rock were weathered away, or buried beneath rock debris. Fresh looking glacial surfaces can be hard to find at times, but the 2010 Winter Olympics provided some excellent exposures here at Stawamus. How? The organizers widened the highway, and constructed a pedestrian bridge that provided access to the provincial park for people parking to the north.
Some of the till was still visible on the south side of the highway (below).
From north of the bridge, even more of the immense cliff could be seen. The mountain attracts legions of rock climbers, and we could see several of them inching their way up the rock face.
It was getting late, and the vagabonders had made no plans for the night. We continued down the highway, eventually finding accommodations in North Vancouver. The next day we would be making the border crossing back into the United States, where new adventures awaited. More to come!