September 13, 2012
Today was a relaxed day, in terms of distance covered on the road. We started at Squamish and drove up to Whistler for some breakfast. After that, we headed back a few kilometers and entered Garibaldi Provincial Park at the Black Tusk parking lot. We set off at about 10:30am with the goal of making the 9km hike up to Lake Garibaldi and back in a timely fashion. Mount Garibaldi is a well-known potentially active volcano in BC, its summit at 2,678m.
The trail started easy enough, with the first part heading gently and straight up the mountain. The going got steeper soon enough, and after about 3km we found ourselves drenched in sweat despite the cool temperatures of the forest floor. Each kilometer brought a sign which announced the distance and elevation, and we soon realized that we would have to climb a few more hundreds meters in the next few kilometers. The first real vista was at “The Barrier”, a lava-rock wall towering high above a valley filled with dangerous boulders. As yesterday, chipmunks had already taken possession of this spot to snuggle up to the many hikers passing through.
Moving on, the next open views were across Barrier Lake and Lesser Garibaldi Lake, both fed from their big cousin on the top of this mountain range. This was probably our first glimpse upon the characteristically turquoise clean mountain lakes which everyone knows from Canada.
We finally made it to the Garibaldi Lake and it was well worth the effort of getting there. The lake is a glacier lake at about 1,500m, surrounded by multiple large mountains and their glaciers. It’s cold and blue, just like you’d imagine, yet still warm enough to stick your feet in for a few minutes. What surprised us most was the amount of activity around the camp site and the heat of the sun at this time of year. We saw a bunch of people which had hiked almost three hours to the top just to lie on the shore of Lake Garibaldi, sunbath and read a book. Amazing!
Tired from the 9km in distance (and 900m in height) we had covered, we replenished our strength with good old fashioned peanut-butter bread and other snacks before heading back down. Not surprisingly, it took us less time and effort to get down, still we didn’t arrive at the parking lot until about 5pm.
As you can see from the photos, the hike as well as the lake are simply stunning. What’s sad about it is that the parking lot and the trail are not very visible from the road (99), and that you don’t hear a lot about it elsewhere. The well-known spots might get all the attention, but parks and trails like this one at Garibaldi deserve more credit. Remember that its just a 150km drive up from Vancouver to get here, while Jasper and Banff are much further away. The good thing about these trails is that they are exhausting yet don’t put any demands on gear, like shoes or warm clothing. You can take your running shoes, put on your bathing suit and take along some water and food and be on your way. If the nice elderly asian couples we met on the way can do it, you can probably do it too ;)
Tonight were staying in a very very nice hotel in Whistler (Aava Hotel). Whistler was home to many 2010 winter olympic contests, and what we saw from the village is really cute. We’ll check out more of it tomorrow morning before we hit the road for some serious driving.