A Big Hiking Adventure
Early May or June this year I discovered my love for hiking. Quickly I wanted to find a hike to push my limits and present me with a beautiful view. After some research online I came across a hike close to Whistler.
Today I wanted to take you on my adventure with Gregory to Garibaldi Lake. I could have never prepared myself for the challenge this hike was, but the payoff was totally worth it.
Preparing for THIS Hike
I was aware that this hike was going to be a big one, and I needed to ensure Gregory and I were sufficiently prepared. I over packed and ended up carry about 50 lbs on my back whenever Gregory was in the pack. But, better safe than sorry.
We had more than enough food and water for our trip. We drove up to Rubble Creek Parking Lot just south of Whistler and started our hike early in the morning.
Nothing can prepare you for this hike. I thought I was prepared mentally.
Preparation is not just about material things, it’s about your mindset. Keep in mind that this is a marathon, not a sprint. The switchbacks are endless, the views are of nothing but trees… a little higher up their stump as you pass it again on the next switchback.
That being said, if you’re prepared for the hike, the payoff is totally worth it.
Camping On Garibaldi
As I said, Gregory and I started this hike early in the morning to ensure we had plenty of time to get back to our vehicle before sunset. Garibaldi requires campers to reserve and prepay for camping permits, I was not wanting to spend the night.
If, however, I was planning on going further up the mountain past Garibaldi Lake and Taylor Meadows, I would plan to make an overnight trip and stop at one of these two campgrounds. I believe it only costs $10 a person per night.
Garibaldi Lake Camping
You can camp right on Garibaldi Lake. There are several outhouses, huts for shelter, and camp sites. The lake campground fills up fast and I’ve seen people head up in the afternoon hoping to find a spot when I already saw it was getting packed full.
Taylor Meadows Camping
About 2km away from Garibaldi Lake is Taylor Meadows. There are more camp sites here where people usually go when the lake is full. Also, its much quieter so if you’re looking for more privacy this may be a better choice.
If the plan is to hike further up the mountain, stop here and hit up the lake on the way home from your trip. The switchbacks from the lake to here did not look fun to hike up. Much more manageable hiking down.
Hiking to Garibaldi Lake
I’ve read online that it can take the average hiker 5 hours to go up to the lake and back down. It took me and Gregory 9 hours, with a detour through Taylor Meadows to Black Tusk Junction.
Alone I managed to hike to Taylor Meadows and down in under 3 hours. It all depends on your pace, how much extra weight you’re carrying, and how much time you spend at the top.
Gregory the Hiking Toddler
Hiking is really good for kids. It helps build balance, coordination and problem solving skills. Not to mention it gets them outside and enjoying nature. Gregory is becoming an amazing little hiker, and really proved himself on this hike.
The first 6km are switchbacks up the mountain. It’s the toughest part of this hike because there is very little scenery, it’s very steep and seemingly never ending. Gregory managed to hike quite a bit. The experience was drawing out and I tried to carry him in the backpack for most of this part of the hike.
Taylor Meadows Junction
When you hit the Taylor Meadows and Garibaldi Lake junction, you are merely 2km away from the lake. Or you can be like Gregory and I and hike towards Taylor Meadows and see if the flowers are in bloom.
Apparently around August the wild flowers bloom in the meadow and the colours are absolutely breathtaking. We hiked in June, and I again at the start of September and saw no flowers. It’s a tight window to get the picture perfect mountainside meadow.
The trail leading to Taylor meadows is more difficult than the hike you’ve done so far. The trail terrain starts to change and the elevation does not stop climbing. Eventually you’ll come across some wooden bridges and the ground levels out to an easy stroll. You’ve hit the start of the campground area. Here you can find bathrooms, a map, information and huts for shelter.
Black Tusk Junction
From Taylor Meadows you can choose to hike to Garibaldi Lake or towards Black Tusk Junction. Gregory and I took the trail towards Black Tusk, just for kicks.
We shouldn’t have, it added a few extra km than we really needed, but I learned from our experience. He had a meltdown up here and I knew I pushed us too far. Gregory was ready for a nap and needed to be packed up in the backpack again.
The Black Tusk Junction is quite the nice walk from Taylor Meadows. I enjoyed this area the most of all the hike. Once at this junction you are given directions and distances to Panorama Ridge, Black Tusk and Garibaldi Lake.
Panorama Ridge is another 5km away from the Black Tusk Junction, a similar distance to Black Tusk. Garibaldi was just over 2km and that was my ultimate goal for the day.
Garibaldi Lake Switchbacks
From the Taylor Meadows/ Black Tusk Junction you must go down a series of switchbacks towards the lake. It’s nice to walk down, I couldn’t imagine how those backpackers felt hiking up it passing me.
Once you hit the bottom of the switchbacks you hit another junction that lets you choose to hike down, further to the Lake, or keep at the same elevation you are at and head back towards the parking lot.
Gregory was asleep in the backpack at this point, I figured I finish the challenge and make it to the Lake. We were almost there. The last set of switchbacks is easy to hike down.
FYI, this is the only way down to the lake. Meaning you must hike back up this set of switchbacks in order to hike to the parking lot. I was not aware of this and it is difficult to hike back up after our trail route we took this day.
Gregory and I hiked up on a day between thunder and lightning storms up here. So the weather was cloudy, often times raining and very cold and windy.
I highly suggest bringing extra layers to pile on, and take shelter in the huts when it showers to prevent yourself from getting cold. You’re up a mountain, the temperature is lower.
The water colour of the lake is absolutely stunning. I wish I as able to get photos at better angles to capture the turquoise shade, the angles I got had the shadow of the mountains and clouds. It’s glacier water, freezing cold and captivating to look at.
There were many people up here, this is where Gregory and I stopped for lunch. We watched the chipmunks and squirrels try and steal our food, there were fish in the water and birds everywhere. Entertainment for hours if it weren’t so freezing in the wind for us.
I was not prepared for how cold it was, nor how exhausted I would be. I had made it with Gregory to this beautiful lake though. I was very proud of both of us.
Let’s get these photos out of the way, I know it is what you are waiting for. It’s the best part of every travel post. Garibaldi Lake is one of the most spectacular views in Canada, and I hope to one day make it to Panorama Ridge to get an overview of this beautiful lake.
That was why I hiked up to Taylor Meadows alone, but I can’t hike all the way up to the ridge in one day. So I’ll attempt again and share at a later date.
I was over prepared and completely under prepared for this hike. Gregory blew my mind, and after hiking again solo I know that he did absolutely amazing on our adventure.
We hiked up to over 7000ft in elevation, in about 9 hours, travelling over 32km. That’s impressive, and I couldn’t have done it without his happy spirit pushing me forward, motivating me to have this adventures and show Gregory the world.
I loved our adventure to Garibaldi Lake, so much so that I couldn’t wait to go back up again. I want to take Gregory again when he is older, and show him what we were capable of doing together when he was so little.
When we were dealing with many things, we still managed to push our limits and accomplish things that very few even imagine doing.
A Momentous Hike
This hike was a momentous occasion for me, a moment where I knew Gregory and I could power through anything and make it. Yes, it’s a struggle, and we cried, and screamed and each had a melt down or two. But we also learned, discovered, enjoyed and had amazing experiences. We made it to Garibaldi Lake, and we made it back to the bottom.
The hike down was just as difficult as the way up in my opinion. Never ending, painful, mentally taxing when you’re dealing with personal troubles. But the feeling when you’re walking around that last switchback to level ground and see the parking lot. That’s a feeling that I’ll never forget, and one I am so glad I experienced with Gregory on my back.
It was on this hike that I knew we could do it together, on our own. And come out stronger than before, smiling wide and not ashamed of the struggle. Just proud of our accomplishment.
Before You Go
I know this post ended all inspirational, but this was an adventure that changed my life. I put off writing it because I didn’t know how share decent hiking information yet preserve my feelings. That’s what my blog is for me first and foremost, a way to preserve mine and my sons adventures. I wanted to take you along this special one in particular though.
I hope I inspire you to push your limits, to be prepared and know that nothing can really prepare you for what your futures holds. You’ll struggle, and feel good, and be in pain, and have a genuine proud moment for yourself and know you deserved it.
I don’t think climbing a mountain is the only way to have an epiphany of what you can and can’t accomplish in life, especially if you’re not in very good shape. But it changed my life. Maybe a major challenge both mentally and physically like this could do something similar to you.