Backcountry Camping at Garibaldi Lake

This summer, Justine and I are planning to do a series of backcountry hiking/camping, with a goal of doing a few days on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). We've both done this before, but it's been a while, so we decide to start with something easy to test out our gear, and make sure everything was set. We decided to do one night up at Garibaldi Lake, which is a beautiful setting, and only about 9.5 km from the parking lot. Mind you, that's all uphill...

Our ultimate goal, the beautiful Garibaldi Lake in the Whistler backcountry.

We had done this hike last year, and were disgusted by the number of people that were on the trail (and more so, how little respect many of them show for our wilderness), but we hoped that the combination of early season (yes, the beginning of July is early season...) and the fact that we'd be camping out would make it less busy, and more enjoyable.

 Google Earth view of our hike up to the lake.

Google Earth view of our hike up to the lake.

The intrepid hikers, all set to head out on our adventure.

 All smiles in the parking lot.

All smiles in the parking lot.

The hike up to the lake is really nothing to talk about. It's a long slog with about 700m of elevation gain, through the forest with the occasional view of the barrier slope or two smaller lakes. You don't do this hike for the journey, this one is about the destination.

 The only thing of interest we saw on the way up was thing woodpecker.

The only thing of interest we saw on the way up was thing woodpecker.

That view, and the turquoise colour of the water is why you do this hike. We had been watching the weather for the last couple of weeks - the lake had just thawed two weeks ago - so we knew that there was likely still to be snow at the campsite when we got up there. Sadly, we were not disappointed...

 Yes, there was snow all around the tent pad.

Yes, there was snow all around the tent pad.

 Camp all set-up

Camp all set-up

 We took a lot of the same picture of the lake - just so amazing!

We took a lot of the same picture of the lake - just so amazing!

 The grey jays are well fed (and not shy), having trained all the humans to feed them.

The grey jays are well fed (and not shy), having trained all the humans to feed them.

 ONe big difference between this trip and last was the number of fish. The trout were everywhere - big rainbows that made me wish I had brought my fishing gear.

ONe big difference between this trip and last was the number of fish. The trout were everywhere - big rainbows that made me wish I had brought my fishing gear.

 The snow around our campsite made the perfect location to cool the beer we had lugged up the side of the mountain. It tasted really good... 

The snow around our campsite made the perfect location to cool the beer we had lugged up the side of the mountain. It tasted really good... 

We had left pretty early in order to get a spot in the parking lot. As such, we were up to the lake by around 11:00. After getting our camp set-up, and wandering for a bit, we ate lunch on a bench overlooking the lake and the surrounding mountains. 

One of the benefits of camping at the lake is that it makes a day hike up to Black Tusk manageable. Our plan had been to do that before hiking back down on Sunday morning. But we were concerned about the amount of snow we were seeing, so we decided to hike up to the Black Tusk Viewpoint trailhead, to see how things looked.

 Yeah, there was still a lot of snow up there...

Yeah, there was still a lot of snow up there...

Black Tusk, peaking out from behind the other mountain you'd have to hike over.

Based on the amount of snow we were seeing on the short hike over to the trailhead, hiking up to Black Tusk didn't look like it was going to work out so well. 

 While there was lots of snow, it was at least reasonably warm.

While there was lots of snow, it was at least reasonably warm.

Having seen the state of the trail, we decided we'd wait until later in the summer when we do the longer hike. At least the snow will be gone at that point. So we turned around and hiked back across the snow field and back to the campsite.

 The hike over to the Black Tusk trailhead. Only ours was covered in snow!

The hike over to the Black Tusk trailhead. Only ours was covered in snow!

Yes, the water really is that colour.

Such a beautiful spot.

We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring, relaxing and enjoying the views. Eventually we made some dinner, testing out the dried food options (mushroom risotto - not too bad). 

 There were lots of little birds hanging about.

There were lots of little birds hanging about.

 A view across the lake to the glaciers on the other side. Lots of cracks and crevices forming as the snow melts.

A view across the lake to the glaciers on the other side. Lots of cracks and crevices forming as the snow melts.

After dinner we explored some more, then claimed one of the picnic tables for the evening. We played cards and enjoyed the (mostly) quiet, now that the majority of people had left for the night. The bugs weren't too bad, and we lasted until pretty late, as it was getting dark and was probably time to head to bed.

Sadly, the night didn't go so well. We had bought 2-season, maybe 3-season gear, and it got cold after the sun went down. It might have gotten close to freezing, and we really weren't well equipped for that. It made for an uncomfortable night. I also discovered that my sleeping pad is way to thin/short, and it just wasn't going to cut it. We didn't get a lot of sleep, and it was not a very comfortable night.

Lake view in the calm of the morning.

 Clouds had come in overnight, making for a less dramatic sunrise than I had hoped.

Clouds had come in overnight, making for a less dramatic sunrise than I had hoped.

I got up an hour or so before Justine did, and went out and took some pictures. Eventually Justine joined me and we made breakfast. The dried eggs were awful, so my breakfast was a Cliff bar. Eventually we packed up our campsite, and started back down to the car, since we couldn't do the planned hikes.

 It was a cold morning.

It was a cold morning.

 But the lake looked amazinig.

But the lake looked amazinig.

Again, the hike back down wasn't overly interesting. We stopped a couple of times to take pictures of the waterfalls, but mostly it was just the pounding of 9.5 km back down the mountain. 

One of the many waterfalls, swollen by the flood melt.

Another waterfall.

And the hike back down.