Monday, July 22, 2013

Camping in Garibaldi Provincial Park & Hiking Black Tusk

I've been so excited to share this with you!! The weekend of July 13-14, Dave and I went on a spectacular hiking/camping trip with a group of 9 others from the VOC (Varsity Outdoor Club). We headed about 2 hours north of Vancouver to Garibaldi Provincial Park, where we'd hike to the Black Tusk and camp out in Taylor Meadows.

Vancouver to Garibaldi Provincial Park

The campsite we'd be staying at was about 7.5 km from the Rubble Creek parking lot that we'd park at, so this was notttt car camping. We would be carrying all our gear/clothes/water right on our backs. Dave got our bags all packed and set before we left Vancouver...

Two bags packed for camping/hiking
.  his and hers packs  .

Dave clearly was carrying most of the weight. Some of the things we packed:  sleeping pads, Dave's new tent, walking poles, ice axes, sleeping bags, clothes, water bottles, snacks (Snickers and granola), sandwiches for lunches, macaroni/sausage for dinner, and helmets. You'll just have to keep reading to find out what we needed the helmets for... ;)

Setting off from Rubble Creek parking lot, we headed up a dirt trail that rose fairly gradually until the sound of the Creek disappeared into the background and we were totally surrounded by tall, moss-dripping trees. Several kilometers of switchbacks eventually brought us to a junction in the trail, around the 6km mark.  From this junction, you could head right to make your way down to Garibaldi Lake (a beautiful glacial lake nestled in the middle of Garibaldi Provincial Park). Heading to the left, however, leads you up to Taylor Meadows Campsite and - eventually - the Black Tusk. We took a left at the junction, and after another 1.5km we arrived at the campsite.

We were some of the first people at the Taylor Meadows Campsite that day so our group had our pick of all the tent sites. We set up our tents amongst the viciously swarming mosquitos that inhabit the meadow (Note: DEFINITELY bring bug spray if you head to this site), ate our lunch, tied our food products up in the bear cache (a rope and pulley system that raises all our food bags about 20 ft into the air), dropped some of the surplus weight out of our bags and then set off again to try to summit the Black Tusk.

Tent at Taylor Meadows Campsite, Garibaldi Provincial park
.  our tent  .
.  we didn't bring the bright orange tent fly, in case you wondered why
it looks different than it did before  .
Black Tusk is a steep pinnacle overlooking Garibaldi Lake from the north. Here's a view of it at sunset from the campsite:

View of Black Tusk from Taylor Meadows Campsite

From Taylor Meadows Campsite we hiked steadily upward through a peaceful and stream-scattered mountain meadow...

Hiking through Taylor Meadow

Taylor Meadow, Garibaldi Provincial Park

Hiking towards Black Tusk

Hiking through Taylor Meadows

... which provided continuous beautiful views of Garibaldi Lake and the bountiful mountains to its south, including the impressive Mt. Garibaldi.

View of Garibaldi Lake from Taylor Meadows

The higher we hiked, the fewer trees we had surrounding us, until eventually we were hiking up open terrain as we approached Black Tusk - finally encountering some snow (though still not nearly as much as we had expected):

Approaching Black Tusk

Hiking towards black tusk, garibaldi park
.  me scoping out the scenery  .

We made our way up an open snowy field that eventually turned into an ascent over loose volcanic rocks as we neared the Tusk's base:

Snowy ascent towards the Black Tusk, Garibaldi Provincial Park
At the base of the Tusk, we paused for a snack and to catch our breaths while we admired more views of the turquoise waters of Garibaldi Lake below:

View of Garibaldi Lake from base of Black Tusk

The base of the Tusk is where things began to get really exciting and interesting. We made our way carefully along the ridge that crosses in front of the pinnacle, which is little more than a pile of loose volcanic rock. Dave told me to hustle through this part, since there was plenty of loose rock above us as well. I told him I shan't be hustling across ANY of this crazy shit. Would YOU have??

Loose volcanic rock, Black Tusk

I'm so giddy with excitement even writing about this... it was just so exciting to be doing it. Once we crossed the front of the Tusk laterally, it was time to start going UP. 

YUP. Up!!!
Straight up!

This part was a precarious scramble, but all 11 of us agreed that we did want to proceed to try to get to the summit. So we donned our helmets (to keep our precious little heads from being ravaged by any falling rock) and one by one climbed up through this steep crevasse: 

Scramble up Black Tusk
.  that's me in the blue  .
Scramble through crevasse on Black Tusk
.  some background elements to help show the scale of things  .

View of Garibaldi Lake from crevasse on Black Tusk
.  view from the crevasse  .
Once through the crevasse, we scrambled up a steep field of more loose volcanic rock. David took some photos of me tackling this part:

Scramble towards Black Tusk Summit 1

Scramble towards Black Tusk Summit 2

Scramble towards Black Tusk Summit 3

After all that work - about 14km of hiking and a good deal of scrambling - we were rewarded at the summit of Black Tusk by the kind of views that make me so happy to be living in the Pacific Northwest. The views from 2320m (7600 ft):

Panorama from Black Tusk summit
.  click for a larger view  .

Photo at Black Tusk summit
Garibaldi Lake from Black Tusk

summit of Black Tusk

Garibaldi Lake from Black Tusk summit
On our way back down the mountain later in the afternoon, Dave snapped a photo of me in the mountain meadow. Hiking is the only time I don't feel ridiculous having my socks pulled up this far:

Hiking through Mountain Meadows
I was pretty much exhausted by the time we got back to our campsite that evening. After our 8-ish hours of hiking, I had just enough energy to eat our mac 'n cheese/sausage dinner mixture, scarf down a few handfuls of granola, and pass the heck out in our tent (whose exterior promptly became covered in mosquitos).

The next morning we slept till 8AM when our group of 11 slowly began to rouse and emerge from our tents to eat some breakfast. Dave and I split some oatmeal and some cocoa-coffee, a delicious concoction we always enjoy while camping, mixing in hot cocoa mix with our coffee.

The plan for the morning and afternoon would be to pack up our tent sites and head down a different trail towards Garibaldi Lake, where we intended to attempt to swim in the freezing cold glacial waters.

Turquoise water of Garibaldi Lake
Swimming in Garibaldi Lake
Dave was able to get in a lot further than I was - he's in up to his waist, dead-center in the above photo and also somehow managed to go underwater briefly. I could only manage to get my knees wet before I couldn't stand the coldness any longer and had to scramble back out:

Wading into Garibaldi Lake
We all ate a bit of lunch around the lakeside picnic tables before once again packing up and heading off for the parking lot.  The hike back down seemed a lot longer than the hike up... probably because my feet were super sore and I had blisters like this on my ankles:

Blisters from hiking

This entire trip was such an awesome experience. I was proud of myself for summiting that gnarly looking rock, plus I was psyched to have gone camping. I love sleeping out in tents, even if there are crazy swarms of mosquitos everywhere and I never fall asleep for more than 2-3 hours at a time. As a bonus, I met lots of great people in our 11-person party and had plenty of good conversation with people from all over the world.

As another bonus, this was terrific exercise. Our hike clocked in at around 29km round trip, or just about 18 miles, with a total elevation gain of 1740m (over 5700 ft). Not too shabs!

Here's a look at our total trip: 

Trails around Garibaldi Park
.  trail map from  .
.  black labels added by me!  .

Well I hope you made it this far - I know this was a lengthy recap. Have you gone camping or hiking this summer? What's been your favorite place to hike? Any favorite photos from above?

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  1. Bailey - I am SERIOUSLY impressed. What a fantastic weekend. I would have been totally distracted by all the beautiful views! You guys are awesome!

  2. Wow. Beautiful. I wish I could do all that.

  3. SO PRETTY! :) I once did a little backpacking trip too and it was a blast!!


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  4. wow. stunning views! and way to be awesome!

  5. Holy, GORGEOUS!! What a spectacular hike! The views are just unbelievable
    !! Thanks for sharing :) And you have quite the bod girl! I'm jealous.

  6. Holy cow! This looks super dreamy, and super scary at the same time. Good job on hiking that! Looks amazing!


  7. awesome photos! I haven't every properly been camping...I hope to one day soon!

  8. Oh my gosh- that water is beautiful! Such great photos!

  9. Amazing!! It's like you were hiking in a post card! The shots from the top of the mountain are seriously incredible!!

  10. Gorgeous! I just found your blog through a link-up party. I live down in Washington state. Now that we have a baby we don't get to hike and climb as much, but we are trying to get out again. Happy to have found your blog!


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