September 13th, 2011
As summer shifts into fall, Victoria's Inner Harbour collectively breathes a sigh of relief. It's been a hell of a tourism rush as always, but with the change of seasons, local businesses, street musicians, artists, and even Darth Vader can relax a bit, check the balance sheet, and maybe even take a weekend off!
Since waves of tourists have graced our streets over the summer, I think it's time that us locals got outta town for the weekend. I'm pleased to report that I just took a trip worth taking, and I want to tell you all about it.
Garibaldi Provincial Park, located off the Sea to Sky Highway between Squamish and Whistler, is one of the natural marvels of the Pacific Northwest. Highlights include the glacial, trout-filled Lake Garibaldi, several lava cone vantage points, and an insane 360 degree view of, well, BC!
I tackled the park, and specifically Black Tusk, a spire of lava rock up in the alpine, this past weekend. Along with two old friends from UVic Business, we headed up to Garibaldi bright and early saturday morning in a sporty rental Volvo C30. Upon arrival, we trekked up an unrelenting but well-graded trail up wooded slopes, finally arriving at Garibaldi Lake. A full campsite necessitated another short climb to Taylor Meadows, which is a beautiful alpine camp spot. Wildlife is abundant, and we came face to face with an inquisitive Pine Marten, and flocks of sneaky Whiskey Jacks, who successfully sniped some unattended smoked oysters!
After a chilly sleep fly-off under the stars, we tackled the Tusk the following day. a 7 km hike through alpine meadows transitioned into a scramble up scree and snow, ending at the top of world! We wound up at the base of the Tusk, where a large number of hikers hang out and contemplate the semi-sketchy climb up a chute and onto the lava dome. I was wearing ungainly, heavy backpacking boots, and for the sake of footing, opted to hang out here while my companions spider-monkey'd up to the summit. The view from the top was apparently top-notch, and there are even some spots to pitch a tent up there!
Once the Tusk had been conquered, it was time to hustle on down (there were ferries to catch!). We opted for a quick, extremely brisk dip in Garibaldi Lake to reward ourselves, then it was an exercise in speed as we blasted back through the meadows, packed up camp, and made it back to the parking lot at breakneck speed. All in all, Sunday saw us cover approximately 25 km at a brisk pace, inducing blisters and fatigue all around.
Once on the road, it was a rally-style blast back to YVR, dropping Shayne at Horseshoe Bay, and myself at the Bridgeport transit exchange in Richmond in order to catch the 9 PM boat back to the island.
To summarize, a hike in Garibaldi Provincial park can be accomplished from the island in as little as two days, one night. I'll admit, we rushed it, but ultimately we crushed 35+ km in the span of 24 hours, experienced breathtaking views, and refreshed ourselves in glacial water. Do yourselves all a favour, step outside our South Island bubble, and go experience the best of British Columbia. I dare ya.
Stay Classy Victoria,