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Greater Vancouver Hike – Garibaldi Lake and Black Tusk

Garibaldi Lake
Date: August 12-14, 2006, August 8-10 2008, and July 10-12, 2009

Location: Garibaldi Pronvincial Park, near Squamish, BC (map)

Description: Black Tusk was my first real backcountry experience, and you never forget your first. Glacial Lakes, towering peaks, alpine meadows – this hike has it all. I’ve seen a lot of BC since that weekend in 2006, but Black Tusk is still my favourite overnight hike in BC. I’ve been up there 3 times, and I’m itching to return again.

The Barrier
It’s a 7.5 km hike from the trail head to the campgrounds – taking anywhere from 2 1/2 – 4 hours depending how fast you can move with heavy pack on. It’s a steady uphill the whole way, rising 915 meters, including a section of switchbacks along The Barrier – an imposing lava damn holding back the water in Garibaldi Lake.

There are two camping options – Taylor Meadows and Garibaldi Lake. Garibaldi Lake is the nicer option, but it fills up quickly, especially on a long weekend. The campsites are pretty good by backcountry standards – with gravel or wood tent pads, outhouses, bear caches, and cooking shelters.

Little Creek
Late July to early August is the best time to visit, as the alpine flowers are in full bloom and the area is mostly snow-free. You can even take a dip in Garibaldi Lake if you’re brave (no matter how warm it might be outside, a glacial lake is never very warm).

The Ascent to Black Tusk
From the campgrounds, there are two day hike possibilities – Black Tusk and Panorama Ridge. Black Tusk is a unique experience. If you’re afraid of heights, like I am, it’s a uniquely terrifying but exhilarating experience. The trail leads up a large scree slope and then traverses a ridge with a steep drop off before reaching the base of an intimidating lava column.

At the Summit
You can rock climb/scramble the top of the tusk but it’s not for the feint of heart. It is steep and the rock is loose. I’ve only ever made it to the top once, on my first trip up when I wore a bike helmet to protect my head. Every other time I’ve chickened out. But if you do make it to the top, the 360 degree views of Garibaldi Provincial Park and Whistler-Blackcomb in the distance are breathtaking.
View of Whistler Mountain

Transportation: It’s a 90 minute drive from Vancouver to the trailhead near Squamish, BC. Directions.

Pictures: Garibaldi Lake 2006, Garibaldi Lake 2008, Garibaldi Lake 2009

Ridge Walking

On the way to the Tusk

Black Tusk Snow Angels

Dr Seuss Flowers

Lake-side Reflections

Garibaldi in the Rain

My main recreation goal this summer was to plan a return trip to Garibaldi Lake and Black Tusk. In early July I picked a weekend (August 8-10) and sent out word to anyone who might be interested. We had a group of 12 people who were interested.

The timing of the weekend avoided the massive rock slide on the Sea-to-Sky Highway, but it coincided with horrible weather. A third of our group bailed when they saw the forecast for the weekend. The rest of us decided to go up anyway, hopeful that it wouldn’t rain too much.

We left Friday at 1pm, with sunny skies above us. By the time we drove up to Garibaldi, with stops for food, it was nearly 5pm before we started the hike. It took us 4 hours to hike up to the campsite (7.5 km, 915 m elevation gain) with all of the gear on our backs.

Saturday morning we woke up to drizzle, which turned briefly to hail during breakfast. Luckily the campsite had a cook shelter, so we could avoid the inclement weather while we ate. After breakfast we sat around playing games, waiting for the rain to stop. Around noon it looked nicer out, so we decided to hike up to Panorama Ridge. Even in the rain, the alpine flowers were really stunning. We made to the base of Panorama Ridge before the wind and cold encouraged us to turn around. On the way back we stopped at Garibaldi Lake and I managed to roll my ankle walking down the trail.

Saturday night was party tent time. All eight of us squeezed into a 2-person tent and starting drinking the 8 litres of wine we brought up. We eventually moved into our 3-person tent which was much roomier. Whenever anyone would walk by, we would yell “Whoooo! Party Tent!” and invite them to join us. No one took us up on the offer.

On Sunday, a few of the crew went up to climb Black Tusk in the rain. From the top they could see 360 degree views of the inside of a cloud. My ankle was hurting me, so I stayed back and played cards with Emily, Christina, and Cynthia.

The hike down only took 3 hours, and it was of course sunny when we hit the parking lot.

The weekend wasn’t the best it could have been because of the weather, but I was impressed that everyone made the most of it and no one complained.

For those on Facebook, check out the spaghetti chopping videos. And there is also Christina’s photos from the weekend.

Conquering My Fears At 2315 Meters

Team TuskThis past weekend I went on the most intense hiking/camping trip…ever! Aviv, an old friend from Shad Valley that I haven’t seen in 7 years, invited me to join him and a bunch of his friends on an overnight hike-in camping trip to Garibaldi Provincial Park.

Wow! Sounds amazing. Tell me more.