"One's destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things." - Henry Miller
The summer went by so fast and the next thing I knew, the end of September was approaching fast. All summer, social media has been flooding my feed with beautiful pictures of Garibaldi Lake and friends have been raving about the stunning beauty of this provincial park. I wanted to go and experience BC's finest myself, but I wasn't sure when I would have the time. Luckily, the summer weather stayed around and I was able to head up to the mountains last weekend. I hoped for a quiet, peaceful weekend away from the chaos of crowds, but unfortunately else had the same idea in mind.
Early Saturday morning, my friend and I woke bright and early to catch the ferry to Horseshoe Bay. From there, we headed north on the Sea-to-Sky highway, past Squamish and on towards Garibaldi Provincial Park. When we arrived at Rubble Creek Road, the parking lots were jammed packed and cars lined the road for a kilometre before reaching the trailhead. We strapped on our backpacks, filled with food, water, sleeping bags, mats, and a tent and headed up the busy road to the start of the trail. From the bottom, it would be 6 kilometres of switchbacks and enthusiastic hikers until we reached the first junction. From the junction the trail either heads towards Taylor Meadows or towards Garibaldi Lake; we (and 90% of the hikers up there) took the trail that would lead us to Garibaldi Lake. Walking through the giant Douglas Fir trees and past cool, clear creeks, we were only a kilometre from Garibaldi Lake when a Park Ranger approached us and said, “Garibaldi campsites are full…but Taylor Meadows has some spots still left.”
Feeling a bit disappointed, we headed up towards Taylor Meadows to secure a campsite. Taylor Meadows is actually a beautiful spot, filled with autumn colours of red, yellow, and orange and surrounded by epic views of glaciers and the iconic Black Tusk. We found a decent spot, pitched our tent, ate a quick lunch, and then headed the 2 km hike down towards Garibaldi Lake. Garibaldi is an aquamarine glacier fed lake, surrounded by dark green forest, mountains, and a glacier. Even though the water was freezing and the temperature was dropping, backpackers and day hikers were jumping in to cool off from the long hike.
After a refreshing and chilling rinse, we headed back to Taylor Meadows to cook some dinner, drink some wine, and relax under the star-filled sky. Early the next morning and I mean early, we woke up at 5:45am to the loud voices of ten 12-year old boys. A boy scout group had scattered themselves throughout the campsite and when their leaders weren’t around, they decided to be as loud as they wanted, waking up everyone within 20 metres of them. After battling a losing fight with sleep, we decided to just get up, eat some breakfast and hike the 7 kilometres toward the iconic lava dome called Black Tusk.
The trail from Taylor Meadows to Black Tusk isn’t too bad; it’s quiet, serene, and has stellar views of mountains, glaciers, alpine meadows, and Garibaldi Lake. Once we reached the end of the trail, we were about half a kilometre from the base of the Black Tusk. From here, BC Parks doesn’t recommend the climb on the loose shale to the base of the Tusk. If you continue on, it is at your own risk. The hike up to the base is a bit unsafe, with the loose rock debris sliding down every time a step is taken. After scrambling up the scree, we made it to the ridge; providing us with a 360 degree views of the valleys, mountains, glaciers, lakes. Walking along the ridge near the top, one wrong move and you will slide down the scree or fall to your death over the cliffs. We made it to the base of the looming Black Tusk and then common sense (or fear) took over and I made the decision (for both of us) that we were not going to ‘rock climb’ up the side of the Black Tusk to the top. We did see a few experienced (and inexperienced people) scaling the volcanic rock up to the top of the Black Tusk, but sitting at the base was good/safe enough for me.
After taking in the views, we decided it was time to descend. It would be about 16 kilometres to the parking lot from the Black Tusk and we still needed to stop at Taylor Meadows and pick up our backpacks. Also, the temperature drops noticeably when at the Black Tusk and the warm summer day feels more like a crisp, cool November day.
Even though the trails and campsites were extremely busy and at times, chaotic, the beauty of British Columbia’s mountains are always worth the hassle. When you can find that moment to yourself to take in the stunning landscape, everything else in life fades away and you are left with a sense of serenity.