I woke this morning just outside of Whistler, British Columbia (BC images). After waiting out the rain for the past 2 days in Kamloops I was anxious to hit the trail and do a long hike today. So I quickly made/ate breakfast and headed further south into Garibaldi Provincial Park (images) to the trailhead for the the hike I had I chosen for today….
I really considered hiking the Black Tusk (images) which is another popular (and very challenging) trail in Garibaldi Park but after reading several reviews I decided to do the Panorama Ridge as it seemed to have it all.
So I arrived at the trailhead and began my pre-hike “ritual”. Now, in order to travel for 3 months in a Jeep Cherokee I was forced to be very conservative in what I packed and very creative in where I put everything. So one of the things I did was take the back seats out and build a custom platform that allowed me to store things both above and below as well as fit a full sized (length) mattress in. Then it took some time to figure out how and where to fit everything. By the time I left my home everything had a place and, with very few exceptions, everything would only fit in the one place it was in and no where else.
Now, I tell you all of this for a reason. I brought 2 pair of “hiking boots” on the trip. One are a low-cut pair of Merrells that I use for short, non-rocky day hikes. The other are my Vasque high-top heavy backpacking/hiking boots that I use for all long, wet, seriously steep and/or rocky trails. I kept my Merrells up front but the only place my Vasque’s would fit were in the back passenger floorboard. So as I was preparing for my hike today I walked around and opened the back passenger door to get my boots. But to my surprise they were not there. For a moment I thought, “now where did I put them”. Then I immediate thought, “there is no where else I could have put them!”. It was at that moment that my heart sunk as I realized I had LOST my expensive Vasque hiking boots! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 🙁 🙁 🙁 I stood there in complete disbelief racking my brain trying to imagine how and where I could have possibly lost my boots….during a 3 month hiking trip!!!
After several moments of sulking and beating myself up I faced the fact that my only chose at this point was to use the Merrells and go on with my day as best I could, knowing that my feet were going to pay the price for my stupid mistake (losing my boots). So I finished packing up, strapped on my Merrells and headed out.
The loop I was planning for today was just shy of 19 miles with over 5000′ of climbing (basically the worst possible day for me to have lost my good boots) and I figured it would take around 7 hours. The first 6 miles or so were basically just climbing through thick forest with a lot of switchbacks. After about 2 hours I came to the Taylor Meadows campsites (images). It was a nice camping area with raised platforms for tents and an indoor area for cooking (I had read that this area was very active for bears). It was still pretty early when I arrive and the ground and water at this elevation was all frozen. It was also at area where I got my first glimpse of the beautiful fall colors yet to come….
I hiked a little further and got my first view of the Black Tusk….and I could easily see how it got it’s name…..
I hiked a little further and came to Taylor Meadow (images). Now, I could have probably hiked from one side of this meadow to the other in….oh, 10 minutes. Well, it probably took me 30-40 minutes to get through this meadow because I just kept stopping, and looking, and taking pictures…and stopping, and looking, and taking pictures….and stopping (you get the point). It was seriously one of the most beautiful high alpine meadows that I have ever seen…..
As I started to near the far edge of the meadow I looked to my left and saw a large black bear in the distance foraging. He was far enough away that it didn’t concern me so I stood and watched him for several minutes. In that time he only looked up once and really paid no attention to me what-so-ever….to which I was thankful. 🙂
While I was excited to have seen the bear (from a distance 🙂 ) my senses were now heighten as I now knew there were bear in the area. So as I began to walk out of the open meadow and back into the thick woods I was scanning from side-to-side and made sure my bear spray was ready to go…just in case. 🙂
So I hiked about another 7 minutes or so up this narrow trail when all of the sudden a grizzly (I got a great look at this one because he was only 20′ away) came running full speed out of no where! For s split second I thought he was running down the trail toward me. Needless to say my heart rate jumped to probably, oh I don’t know, 500 beats per minute (ha ha)! I reached for my bear spray but before I could get it out I realized that he was not running down the trail toward me but rather across the trail in front of me…right in front of me. It happened so fast that I really didn’t have time to react so I just stood there, frozen. I don’t even think I was breathing! (ha ha) And in a flash he as gone down into the valley below. I stood there for probably a good minute before I began to cautiously move forward with my eyes glued on the valley below but I saw no signs of him. WOW!!!! That was intense!!!! Once I realized I wasn’t going to be eaten 🙂 I was so excited about what I had just seen! I had wanted to see a grizzly, just not 20′ in front of me running full speed. (ha ha) I have no idea if he was running from something or after something or if I had startled him or what, but it was an experience that I won’t soon forget. Needless to say as I started back up the trail I was on full alert scanning the woods on both sides of the trail constantly and holding my bear spray in my hand! 🙂
Once I calmed down I was once again able to look around and enjoy the magnificent beauty of everything around me. Most of the trail was surrounded by thick woods but every now and then there would be a break in the trees with a gorgeous view….
After another 10 minutes or so I came to the saddle of this trail. From this point I could Panorama Ridge as well as a couple of lakes and the valley on the other side. It was incredible!
At this point I walked down about 1/2 mile and then began the ascent up Panorama Ridge. I climbed for only a few minutes and looked back over the my shoulder and WOW, what a view of Black Tusk…
The hike up to the top of the ridge was a little steep and rocky but it wasn’t too bad…
When I made it to the top the view was simply unbelievable. I took quite a few pictures and then I sat down, ate my lunch and just spent some time marveling at the wonderful creation that was before my eyes. The view from here was 360 and everywhere you looked it was just amazing!
And as I have on many of these summit hikes I made a new friend while I sat and had my lunch at the top….
I spent over an hour at the top but knowing I still had 9 miles to hike back I reluctantly 🙂 pulled myself off the summit and started back down. But of course I stopped several times to enjoy the view and take more pictures on the way back down to Taylor Meadow…
On the trail down to Garibaldi Lake I passed some a few small meadows. Some had small ponds and all had brilliant fall colors….
It took a little longer than I thought it would to reach the lake. I guess I was higher than I realized. 🙂 The trail to the lake takes you into a small cove where you walk over a bridge and then hug the rocky shoreline cliff for a half a mile or so before you reach the camping and beach areas. And man-oh-man once you come out of the trees the view of the lake and Panorama Ridge are just breathtaking! (note: Panorama Ridge is on the left in the second picture)
Once I reached the lake I hiked about 3/4 of a mile to the ranger station. I knew it was closed for the season but I just wanted to see it. Once I made the ranger station I turned back and headed back across the foot bridge. The trail climbs for a short distance up from the lake and then off and on for a couple of miles on the way back to the trailhead. But once I reached the Taylor Meadow trail (the original trail that leaves the parking area) it was all downhill from there.
When I made it back to my car my gps tracker had logged 18.89 miles and 5,115′ feet of elevation gain (and descent of course). It took me 6 hours and 30 minutes of actual hiking….not counting the hour+ I spent at the top of Panorama Ridge.
Overall I would say this is definitely one of the best hikes I have ever done. It had everything, beautiful alpine meadows, turquoise lakes, snow capped mountains, bears :-)…..what more could you want in a hike? Garibaldi Provincial Park in British Columbia is definitely a place I would love to come back and spend more time exploring!
So I loaded up, made a sandwich for the road, said goodbye to Garibaldi Park and headed south toward Squamish British Columbia. Squamish is a “gateway” town to the outdoor activities in the Garibaldi/Whistler area. I had heard of it from a guy I hiked with a couple of weeks ago so I was interested in checking it out. I only spent one evening in the area but it seemed really nice. One thing I can say for certain about Squamish….it has the only McDonalds (I blogged there for 2 hours) I’ve ever seen that has an outdoor patio with a fireplace! 🙂
So goodbye for now from the Sqaumish BC Canada. Home of the nicest McDonalds I’ve ever seen. 🙂
Extra: Here is my first attempt at a hiking vlog. Learned quite a bit with this one….and still have a lot more to learn, but it was fun putting it together. Take a look and let me know your suggestions (other than turning the phone for landscape….ugh!).
Until next time…..
“It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” – J.K. Rowling