Garibaldi Lake

An overnight trip to the lake

GPS Coordinates are 49.944300, -123.055860.
Link on Google Maps

The hike started from the Rubble Creek Trailhead. We were there at 2:45 pm, ready to conquer the 9 km trail. Backpacks loaded with camping gear and food for one night. The length of the trail was not an issue, but the 900 meters steady climb over the first 6 km or so was. We calculated about 3 hours for the hike, that would leave us enough time to set up and relax with a hot chocolate.

We did not put much planning into the trip, sandwiches was our food choice. And of course some granola bars, beef jerky and Swiss chocolate. There is enough water up there, Christian brought a water filter to safely use the lake water for our hot chocolate. Christian is our son and one of the reasons why we are drawn to Whistler. The mountains out west are a bonus, the view never gets old. Neither do the countless Forest Service Roads for our Jeep adventures.
The Garibaldi Lake Trail is highly popular so the park authorities put a limit on the number of visitors that are allowed to go up. We had our camp site permit and no problem to pass the gates. We parked the truck, put on the backpacks and off we went.

It is all uphill It is a steady climb. The day visitors were on the way down. Two couples with backpacks passed us on the way up, we knew that we were not the only ones staying for the night. Most sites were booked.
Anyway, on the way up, we talked about life, bikes, stories from our childhood and that I need a 10 minute rest every 3 kilometers. First stop, we had water and a granola bar. We continue our trek and resumed the conversation. "Hey Christian, did you bring matches for the gas stove?" I asked. "No, I thought you did." After examining different options, we decided to ask every person on the way down for matches. Not even a minute later, the first hiker crossed our path. We explained our dilemma and had a good laugh about our lack of preparation. We got a lighter and the problem was resolved in less than two minutes. Whoever you are out there, thanks again for the lighter.

The Barrier Towards the end of the climb, there are two side trails to get a look at The Barrier. This is the result of a landslide in 1885. The rock wall holds the Garibaldi Lake and should it collapse, Squamish could be in real danger. The Barrier is actively monitored for any seismic activities.
We crossed several parties that had the music playing. Some actually brought Bluetooth speakers. Hmm! A few were carrying "bear bells". The bells are intended to keep the bears away, or so the marketing promises. Now there is a fundamental problem with the concept of carrying a bell. To understand the issue, take your common house cat and rattle the bell. The cat will go after the bell and play with it. Obviously you won't find house cats up here, but there are the bigger 'cousins' of them, the cougar. The cougar being a cat, one might conclude that they like to play with the bells as well. And this is why the "bear bells" are also known as "cougar bait". There you have it, we just saved your life. You're welcome!
Talking about cougars, they are native to the Americas. An adult male can weigh as much as 100 kg and run with a top speed of 80km/h. You wouldn't even have enough time to say "I Tawt I Taw a Puddy Tat".

Garibaldi Lake
Trail hugging the rocks The last stretch of the trail leads along the Garibaldi Lake. It is a borderline definition of 'along' versus 'through' the lake. Some strategically placed rocks in the water kept our shoes from getting soaked. There was a line-up to attempt the two critical passages. Some visitors on the way back were still scrambling to balance over the rocks, not all of them made it successfully or gracefully. It was actually a very entertaining spectacle. All I can say is that I made it successfully. Somebody else may judge my rock-hopping skills. Best of all, our timing worked out, we made it to the camp site by 6pm.

Camp Site Before we set up the tent, we consumed a celebratory beverage. Our intention was to camp here at the lake, then leave in the morning to hike to the Black Tusk. It took us all of 10 seconds to drop this venture. A new plan for 2021 was born, camp here, hike to Helm Creek Campsite and back down again. A two-nighter sounds more reasonable.
As long as we had daylight, we got all our gear setup and ready. We ate a sandwich for dinner and I remembered that I also packed 'Chicken Noodle Cup-A-Soup'. Throw a beef jerky into the cup and let it soak, mmh. For dessert we had hot chocolate and shared a Swiss chocolate bar. We used the Carnation chocolate powder and added two tea spoons of milk powder. It enhances the flavour by a factor of 10. We were 'hanging' around until the sun set. Our camp was about 100 meters up in the forest. All we could hear was ... nothing. Maybe the occasional clank from a neighbouring camp site and the rushing of a waterfall from across the lake. Then a whooshing sound above the trees from a flying bird. It was most relaxing.

Garibaldi Lake in the evening Now was the time to take some pictures from the lake. We had to head down there anyway, to hang the food bag out of the critters reach.
The Garibaldi Lake is fed from the Sphinx Glacier and Sentinel Glacier. The lake has no obvious outflow like a creek. The water seeps through the cracks in the lava dam and this is where the Rubble Creek appears, at the base of The Barrier. The glaciers are also the source of the bright blue colour of the Garibaldi Lake. The eroding glacier grinds the rocks to a fine powder. The suspended particles refract the light with the aqua-marine sheen.
When I was growing up, my dad told me to never drink water that comes from a glacier. Doing some searches on the topic, it supports his concerns. Think about it, whatever ends up on a glacier will become part of the ice. From dead animals, current or historic to airborne particles like DDT. Did you know that Arsenic is naturally occurring in rocks, so is Mercury. Grinding the rocks will also release the Arsenic and Mercury into the melt water. And never forget the Giardiasis, or beaver fever. It is practically everywhere.
We used the 'MSR TrailShot Pocket-Sized Water Filter' to fill our water bottles from the Lake. I personally use the 'Katadyn Pocket Water Filter' but didn't bring it along, one filter is enough.

Overnight camp and food storage The night was quiet and my sleeping bag was way too warm for the 5 degrees. One of these days I'll buy one for the +5C wilderness escapes.
I got up at my usual time, around 6am. The sun was not yet up, but I needed my hot chocolate and a granola bar. There was no cloud in the sky, but the smoke from the forest fires in Washington State and Oregon was back again.
We did a short exploration along the shore up to the point where there was climbing involved. We looked at each other and turned around, no words were needed. We didn't want to exert ourself and breathe in the smoke. And that is the official version and we both agreed to stick with it.

These pictures were taken around 9 in the morning. Click the image and you can see the haze from the smoke.

On our way down We left the Garibaldi Lake just before 10am. Living off sandwiches, granola bars and beef jerky lost its appeal. We were looking forward to having dinner in Whistler.
The Brewhouse beside the Whistler Olympic Plaza never disappoints. Who doesn't like Pizza or Hamburgers, but I was told that the other fancy choices are outstanding as well. They serve their own beer and that alone is reason enough for me.

First published on September 29, 2020 Contact Us  Help