Hiking today up Garibaldi Mountain, a potentially active volcano in Brackendale BC, was both a challenge and a thrill. At over 8,700 feet elevation, the 18 kilometre return climb is being hosted by two expert hikers. They say it is doable if we take breaks, and it is so beautiful that it’s worth the effort, and the hiking trail is only accessible from July to September.
The weather looks so-so out, and rainy, so I pack layerable clothes, lunch, water, sunblock, hiking tracker, bug spray, a hat and a jacket in my backpack. You get cold when you sweat, so you need a jacket to put on over your clothes. Even in July, wintery patches of snow surround the glacier fed Lake Garibaldi at the top.
The sensory perceptions that make up a hike cannot be experienced in pictures. Pictures cannot send your ears the concert sound of the waterfall at the start of the hike, which grows faint into unrecognizable silence as you ascend the mountain top, halted only by whiskey jack whistles and a horn to ward off bears.
a whiskey jack flew into my hand to eat a grape at picnic area
Garibaldi Lake Glacier In The Distance
Pictures can’t activate the fresh pine buds, or grip your feet like the tree roots on the path. Photos can’t record the weight of the sweet bird on your finger who is eating a grape from your lunch, or the vivid glassy blue colorized lake where trout are jumping.
We leave Surrey at 5:30am to beat the crowds, and after a few stops, we arrive at the mountain at 8am. Vehicles from California and Washington State dot the parking lot, and a tour bus of students from Mexico and Germany ascend the trail. I am so lucky to have this world class hiking spot 70 km away from my home in Surrey.
By hitting the trail early, we avoid the crowds, many of whom are packing sleeping bags and tents on their backs to sleep overnight in the small camping area that can be reserved near the shelter. One third of the way up, there is a sign saying Taylor Bridge has been washed out, so this extends the distance of our hike as we have to walk around the perimeter of the trail to get back on the main trail.
waterfall on the way up
Whiskey Jack eating gluten free granola
We kept up a good pace on the trail, took a few brief rest breaks, ate lunch, visited the outdoor washroom facilities at the bottom and the top, stopped for coffee for 20 minutes on the way home, and made it home to Surrey 8pm.
Finishing the hike was a mind altering experience. One foot in front of the other, it toughened up my mind and body and pushed my limits. Nothing untoward happened on the mountain, but I had to pull over to the side of the road shortly after we left for home to regurgitate my lunch.
My friends cautioned that more protein rich foods in my lunch would have prevented my nausea. Lesson learned. But I am happy that I did my best, and now I can put up my achy feet, and dream about the awesome day trip at Mount Garibaldi today, 70 kilometres away from Surrey.
the azure blue colored Garibaldi Lake at the summit