Sunwolf is nestled in five acres of grassy woodland amongst the stunning Tantalus Mountains, a mere 45 minutes from downtown Vancouver, yet once you’re here, you feel as though you’ve landed in a remote locale teeming with birds, stunning river views, and in winter, the largest bald eagle population on the planet!
The eagle-watching season starts in mid-December, and we were lucky to have caught a stunning day with fresh snow on top of the mountains.
The outdoor adventure and cabin rental company is owned by husband-and-wife-team Jessamy and Jacob (Jake) Freese, former Whistler ski and snowboard instructors who have found their happy place here in BC’s coastal mountains.
We arrive via coach from downtown Vancouver (the company now offers three convenient downtown pickup and return locations) and turn onto a woodsy lane that leads to Fergie’s Cafe, a row of cozy cabins and the main lodge where we’re greeted with coffee and freshly-baked muffins to start the day.
Fergie’s launched three years ago in a small cottage on the property and has now gained a loyal following for visitors taking a break from hiking, biking, fishing and whitewater rafting trips in the area. They’re known for their house-smoked pulled pork chili and buttermilk biscuits as well as gourmet brownies and muffins.
Getting geared up involves dressing in warm layers (no cotton or jeans); Sunwolf provides waterproof outerwear and boots for the trip. Our launch point is at the river, where after a brief safety demo, London expat Jake gets our lifejackets buckled up and we board one of two large inflatable rafts to begin our experience down the Cheakamus River.
Once we’re off, it’s smooth sailing as Jake points out the eagles in the trees above. One after the next, juveniles and adults alike fly off from branch to branch, occasionally sweeping above our rafts for potentially awesome photos ops as they spread their enormous wings.
Eagles are here to dine on the salmon (four of the five salmon species are to be found in these waters). Salmon both begin and end their lives in the glacially-fed Cheakamus and Squamish rivers.
For a few months each year, Bald eagles (and seagulls) get their salmon fix, swooping down to the rocks along the river bank, grabbing what they can eat, then returning to the trees to digest and spread their wings to dry off. On our sunny morning adventure, they were as stoked as we were to enjoy the beaming sunshine.
Getting a shot like this – with a bald eagle admiring the newly-fallen snow – reminds me that it’s not just humans that are in awe of Mother Nature. This was a zen moment which soon trickled into my own being and gave me a much-needed chill session on the river.
After our hour or so floating excursion, we disembark and walk through a lovely forested area back toward the cabin for a cup of hearty chili, bread, coffee, tea and homemade brownies by the wood-burning fireplace.
Our group also took a brief Sunwolf cabin tour, giving the staff a chance to show off the recently-renovated, pet- (and leash!) friendly cabins by the river. The boutique-meets-rustic lodging along the Cheekeye can house between two and eight guests (the larger Fisherman’s Cottage includes a full kitchen, large dining table and extra bedroom with four bunks for the kids).
Each cabin has hardwood floors, vaulted ceilings, a gas fireplace, handmade pine furniture and an ensuite shower room.
There’s also a hot tub, fire pit for roasting s’mores and Fergie’s (open till 3 pm for snacks and meals) right on the property. Downtown Squamish is about a five-minute drive if you want to explore more dining options.
I’m guessing that once you’re here, you’ll want to cook in your cabin and enjoy the views instead!
The eagle viewing float is offered daily at 10:30 am and costs $110 for adults, $75 for kids under 12. Both prices include a $5 donation to the Squamish Eagle Watch Program. Visit Sunwolf online for more details on lodging reservations, tours and packages.