The Nairn Falls were created when the strong flowing Green river worked its way through a narrow canyon, before rushing toward its confluence with the Lillooet River in the Pemberton Valley. Aside from geological interest, there is also a lot of history here, both for members of the Lil’wat Nation, who consider the Nairn Falls one of their spiritual sites and in regard to gold rush activities in the larger Lillooet District in the 19th century.
The approach to Nairn Falls consists in part of the traditional path the Lil’wat people used in the old days. As you walk along this narrow forest trail through towering trees and substantial rocks, covered with brilliantly green mosses, the river flows alongside, yet well below the footpath. It creates an ever-present roar and although the sound of the rushing water varies according to the terrain, it is never completely muffled and increases noticeably as you get closer to the falls.
At least the upper portion of the falls. And not even that is easy to frame, since Nairn Falls consist not of a single, straight waterfall, as one might expect, but a succession of convoluted narrow pathways, bridges and ‘potholes’, allowing the river level to drop by 60m through a twisted canyon.
When you stand way over in the corner of the viewing platform and tilt your head, you can see most of the upper canyon all at once. But without climbing down to river levels, you really don’t get the full impact. Since my nimble-goat-days are pretty much over, I elected to forgo that adventure in favor of some close-ups and mood shoots of the parts of Nairn Falls I could see without killing myself.
Listening to this video may give you an impression of the incredible power at work here.
Turning away from the mesmerizing force of the falls, we get a glimpse of the peaceful mountain scene surrounding the falls, …
… before we climb down over softly curved rock ledges to a lower platform overlooking the lowest portion of the falls. Halfway down, you can just see the edge of the upper platform between the trees.
Down here the deafening roar of the river water gushing through a stone arch is even louder than above. A fine mist fills the air and bright sunlight reflects off wet rock surfaces with a blinding glare. Nature is having fun demonstrating her power to us feeble humans!
This churning, foaming cauldron of river water, my friends, beats any espresso macchiato with foamed milk at a hoity-toity Whistler bistro hands down!
Before returning to Vancouver, we stopped in comfortably small-town Pemberton for a tasty burger.
The trip home offered many more sights over gorgeous mountain tops, rocky outcroppings and dark forests, as well as beautiful far views along the Squamish river and into Howe Sound. Through the angle of the setting sun, the contours of the landscape became more dramatic and the colors appeared richer than earlier in the day. Despite our Whistler flop, this was a wonderful day trip!