Home HikesBritish Columbia Trip Report: Garibaldi Lake

Trip Report: Garibaldi Lake

by Lisa

We’re now under 2 months until we leave on our trip! ​This past week we’ve been gathering and weighing our gear to get a better idea of what our base weight will be (weight not including food and water.) We also took time to make salmon jerky. We tried two different marinade recipes and they both turned out deliciously. It helps that we had fresh-frozen local salmon from a fishing trip that Dan was lucky enough to go out on last summer. The salmon jerky is definitely going to make up the better part of our mid-day protein on the trail.

As our departure date draws closer, our training hikes get harder! This past weekend saw us driving North of Squamish to hike up to Garibaldi Lake.

​Hike Name: Garibaldi Lake
Date: Saturday April 30
Location: Squamish, BC
Approx. drive time from home: 2 hours
Distance: 11.2 mi. / 18 km (return)
Elevation gain: 2657 ft / 810 m
Max. elevation: 4757 ft / 1450 m
Hiking time: 5.5 hours

​To make our trailhead start easier, we decided to drive out on Friday night and sleep in the car. We have a Subaru Forester SUV and have figured out a perfect way to set up our sleeping bags and sleep very comfortably. It means less stress the night before and a great early start the morning of our chosen hike.
We woke around 7:30, enjoyed a hearty breakfast of yogurt, bran muffins and bananas, and hit the trail by 8:00. The first few kilometres follow along above Rubble Creek at a generally easy grade. Next come the switch-backs as you make your way up the ridge. Compared to Eagle Bluffs the grade was quite acceptable, however there are a lot of inexperienced hikers who get very worn out by the climb!

​We hit the snowline around the 6km marker and stopped to put on our trail crampons. We bought our crampons a couple years ago to allow us easier access to trails in the shoulder season. They’re a great design of a rubber casing that slips on over your boots with lots of spikes to allow for excellent traction. No more slipping and sliding on slushy snow!

The view from The Barrier

We took a well-deserved break once we made it up all the switchbacks. There is a great sunny viewpoint of The Barrier, an amazing lava dam that basically holds back Garibaldi Lake. It also provides a great view West across the Sea-to-Sky corridor.

The trail eases a bit as we worked our way back the final few kilometres to Garibaldi Lake. There was a good couple meters of snow so we also decided to jump off the main trail and follow tracks along the winter trail. We skirted the shore of Barrier Lake, crossed the inlet and skirted the shore of Lower Garibaldi Lake. Unfortunately the river that lets into Lower Garibaldi was running high with no good snow cover so we had to climb up about 30 m up the slope to rejoin the trail. We learned that if you know the trail is above you, the best way to find it is to follow a creek up!

Mountains peeking through the forest

After about three and a half hours of hiking, we made it out to Garibaldi Lake. We had previously been to Garibaldi Lake in July of 2014. It was a bit different to see it still covered in snow and ice. We even spied a skier crossing the lake!

We were fortunate enough to have made it there before the Saturday crowds so we settled ourselves in near a cluster of trees and enjoyed our lunch and the view. We took our time over lunch, making friends with some whiskey jacks and having a good chat with a fellow hiker (good luck on your Denali trip, James!)
For our hike back down, we decided to stick to the main trail. We moved quickly and were back to the car within about 2 hours of leaving the lake.

​There were a surprising number of people coming up the trail who were remarkably unprepared. ​Lots of hikers in city sneakers (for snow travel?!) and with little to no water or food, let alone the 10 essentials. There were also a number of groups who (around km 5!) were asking us how much further to the lake! Didn’t you study the big map at the trailhead, or read the hike info signs??

I can’t stress enough how important it is to be over prepared for a hike, especially in the shoulder seasons. Just because it feels like summer in Vancouver, doesn’t mean that it’s summer in the mountains! Hiking is a surprisingly low impact and rewarding activity, and is very accessible to the majority of the population. However you need to be aware of the distance and conditions of your hike, your own limitations and of course have all necessary gear.

Be safe out there, especially with the rapidly changing spring conditions!

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