Between the three of us, we had roughly 30 to 35 lbs per pack ready to hit the open trail. Dustin (my brother) and his friend Koloman were visiting from the east coast. I had to make sure they fell in love with the mountains as I have done. We packed up the rental car and headed to British Columbia from Seattle for the holiday weekend.
After being asked routine questions by customs, we were officially in Canada. Koloman expressed his excitement by rubbing his hands together or clapping. After the clouds burned off, we were able to see mountains plunging into the bright blue waters along the Sea to Sky highway.
We tightened the straps of our backpacks to hold the weight and started our 6 km hike to Garibaldi Campgrounds. The campgrounds are first come, first serve, so we tried our hardest to get there to find a campsite. The trail is covered by trees, and it gained elevation quickly by switch backing up the mountain. We stopped for snacks and made sure to stay hydrated on a hot, summer day.
It is always fun to hike with people who have not seen certain terrains because their pictures and observations remind me of the beauty of being in the outdoors. While hiking through the tress to the campground, we admired the Spanish moss covering the trees as they reached for the sky.
The boys were patient with me as I trudged along the well maintained trail. No matter how grueling, most hikes are worth it when arriving at the picturesque destination only hikers can see.
Entering Garibaldi Campground
We continued through the campground and found campsite number 45. I hung my hammock as the boys pitched their tent. This would be our camp for the next two nights. Now, with the little energy I had left, we headed down to the lake to cook up some Ramen noodles as we gawked at the aqua lake with snow-capped mountains and glaciers in front of us.
After dinner, we packed our food away in the food shelters and headed off to see how far down the lake we could walk, which was not far past the ranger residence. There is a dock at the end of the campground trail that we laid on while the sun set behind us. On the way back to the campground area, we talked to the rangers staying at the lake. They said we should attempt both Panorama Ridge and Black Tusk because we did not seem to be “normal” hikers and could be done in a day.
Yoga poses to stretch out our muscles.
With little peninsulas and islands off the shore, we walked out to get a different view. Dustin enjoys meeting people, so he talked to other campground visitors as Koloman and I took in the landscape.
With groggy eyes, we rolled out of our sleeping bags and ate some breakfast before starting our hike for the day. With lighter packs filled with snacks, water, warm layers, and first aid supplies, we were off to explore the open trails.
We hiked through alpine meadows with pools of water reflecting the sun. Small patches of wildflowers along the trail made for a nice hike without snow until the back side of Panorama Ridge. Taking one more break before crossing over to the snow covered trail, we found a knife and a water bottle that must have been dropped in winter snow. We collected our treasures and continued.
Trying to keep the trail in sight on the uncovered snow sections, we switched between snow and rocky surfaces. Finally, we decided it was easier to stay on the snow while hiking up to the viewpoint. This was the hardest part of the hike but the most rewarding. We finally got to an overlook and were overwhelmed with the views. We saw the true summit and hiked there for a quick group picture.
Kolomon, me, and Dustin at Panorama Ridge
Panorama on Panorama Ridge
After replenishing on food and water, we started our way back down the steep snow covered terrain. The boys found glissading tracks and decided to give it a try. For the remaining part of the snow covered hike, we practiced boot glissading down the slopes using our feet as skis. I found my inner child and decided to sit glissade sections. Glissading down took no time at all.
We then hiked to the junction of Black Tusk and made the decision to press onward. Up and up we climbed gaining elevation once again to get higher than Panorama Ridge. It wasn’t long before we were hiking back on the snow. With more chances of falling through a snow bridge, we took our time navigating.
View of Black Tusk from Panorama Ridge
Caution! The end of the trail was signaled with a caution sign; we decided to take the risk and continue the rest of the hike. Once off the snow, the remaining trail involved creating “stairs” with our steps up loose rock. I made it to the top of the saddle of Black Tusk with great views. My knee hurt every time the trail was downward sloping, so I let the boys continue without me knowing what goes up must come down.
They continued to the base of Black Tusk, where some scrambling was involved. They got to the chimney and decided to attempt it. Koloman got halfway up before deciding not to attempt it. With only down to go, we started our plunge stepping and glissading until rejoining the trail back to camp.
Excellent views from Black Tusk.
Taking in our last night at the lake, we vegged out on the dock after our 21 km hike (~13 miles). The boys jumped into the cold water to revive their tired muscles before cooking dinner. I set up my tripod and camera for a time lapse of this beautiful lake.
The park rangers were fun to talk to. We received great information from them. The park ranger told us: “You look like you were just in the Bahamas.” Yes, we were that sunburned. The boys were curious on what happens to the pit toilets after they fill up, so they asked the ranger. Basically, when they fill up, the rookie rangers have to dig an eight foot hole in the ground and move the shed accordingly over the hole. He awarded us with the best question of the day!
We spend some time on a bench on one of the peninsulas and watched the sunset light up the mountains before heading to bed before dark. We stayed up until roughly 9 pm, which was a miracle! I was excited to sleep in the hammock because my legs were elevated.
Garibaldi Lake Time Lapse
I woke up to Dustin telling me it was 8 am. Crap! We planned on leaving camp around 8 am and still had to breakdown camp and eat breakfast. After Koloman and I got up, we soon realized Dustin tricked us. It was 6:30 am! Nothing like an early start.
We packed up the campsite, ate breakfast, and were ready for the hike out. Hoisting our heavy packs back on our shoulders, we started our down hill descent. We cruised the trail and made it back to the car in record time. Another group picture of us with our packs on after finishing the hike a little sunburned from the day before. We hiked a total of 33 km (~20.5 miles).
The three amigos.
Now, we only had to drive back to Seattle. We had to stop outside of Squamish for a triathlon race blocking the main road for bikes crossing. After a 2 hour wait in customs and a delicious dinner at Boundary Bay Brewery in Bellingham, WA, we were finally back in Seattle. I was sure ready for a shower!
What is the best national/provincial park you have been to?
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