Andy G. at Elfin Lakes:
“Well I wanted a smaller group to return to Elfin Lakes 12 years after my first Wanderung hike, and I got it! Louise, Susan, and Gloria decided to brave the so-so weather forecast, which changed at the last minute to give us mostly sunny skies for the day. Garibaldi gleamed white in its dusting of snow from the day before, and the lakes were often still enough to yield perfect mountain reflections. We enjoyed a sunny lunch at a picnic table by the cook shelter rather than eating on the tent pads (which the other groups seemed to think was OK – a good opportunity to discuss some Leave No Trace principles). The shelter was empty and every bunk now has a ‘reserved’ label on it.
The trail was quite busy – the parking lot was pretty full when we arrived – many of whom were backpackers on their way out. The hikers’ trail out of Red Heather meadows is being upgraded and is currently a bit of a sticky, slippery mud-fest. One of the backpackers on their way out slipped and ended up plastered from head to toe. We stayed on the main trail on our descent which meant keeping our eyes and ears open for mountain bikers (there were quite a few).
The meadows have plenty of great fall colour but precious few berries. Our only wildlife sightings were a falcon and a bald eagle – not even a whisky jack or chipmunk though we heard pikas among the rocks.
Another great day out and a great way to celebrate 12 years with Wanderung!”
Dean C. on Fissile, Whirlwind, and Overlord Peaks:
“Ella, Q & I went to Russet Lake Aug 13-14 to see the meteor shower and to scramble up Fissile, Whirlwind and Overlord peaks. After reaching the hut, Ella and I slogged up Fissile’s scree treadmill and steep summit ridge, then after a brief summit celebration we slid back down for dinner where no less than 28 tents were now pitched! Popular place for meteor gazing, and we saw two later that evening. On Sunday I quickly solo-ed Whirlwind, Refuse Pinnacle and Overlord in less than 4 hours return, motivated to return, pack up, and meet them at the village; after enduring more Musical Bumps in the heat, we were only 5 minutes apart (though they had time to take the Peak to Peak Gondola for some sightseeing). I was somewhat tired afterward and learned much from my experiment with duct tape on a tiny blister; I turned a mole hill into a mountain. Two day totals: 37 kms and 2,680 m elevation gain over 13.5 hours, and at least 6 unique peaks (with 12 actual summits).”
Will B. on Mt Price:
“Four of us left Rubble Creek parking lot at about 9 am on Saturday to hike Mount Price. Up to Garibaldi Lake it was teeming, but after leaving the lake we saw a total of four other people. The trail winds through trees and over bouldery bits with occasional lovely views of the lake or the Tantalus mountains on the other side, until you reach the start of the real climb, which was steep, loose and very hot. At this point I was like a big sweaty snail. The views on top were amazing, especially of Mount Garibaldi itself. It took us 11 hours all in. Brilliant hike and a great group of hikers made it even better.”
Chris N. at Garibaldi Lake:
“Unlike the Cheakamus Lake trail, there were no blowdowns on the Garibaldi Lake trail at all! Snow patches started around 4.5 km and was largely continuous beyond the 6 km mark. It doesn’t look like many people had headed up to Taylor Meadows – hardly any tracks in that direction. Snow looked to be about 1-1.5 m deep at the lake. It was largely consolidated so snowshoes weren’t needed (and would have been a hazard in the narrower bits coming around the upper barrier lake). Microspikes will help but aren’t really necessary either. The snow gets a bit sloppy in the last 100m before the lake and around the lake edge. There are small pools of water around the lake edge and we ran into a few skiers coming off the Garibaldi traverse so I guess the lake is still crossable (though I wouldn’t risk it).”
Chris N. at Cheakamus Lake:
“I always think of Cheakamus Lake as an easy stroll suitable for hikers from 1 to 101. So I was surprised to find several substantial blowdowns across the trail. Some of the logs are up to 1 metre wide and, given that these were tall trees, going around them would be even more difficult. There are 4-5 trees across the trail before the lake and a few more beyond that. Otherwise the trail is in good shape and there’s no snow at all. There were a number of campers heading to Singing Creek and beyond but no-one camping at the north end of the lake. We ventured beyond Singing Creek for about an hour along a rough trail to the remains (just foundations and some rusted metal) of a tiny cabin.”
Bob H. at Elfin Lakes:
“Today was a gorgeous early Autumn day for a hike. Elfin Lakes is in Garibaldi Provincial Park, located just north of the town of Squamish. The first 6 km of the hike are uphill, 4.5 km of which are on a forest service road. There is a small section where the trail is more rugged and muddy, but then it starts again as a wide established trail. As you continue, the views get spectacular; you see Mount Garibaldi and the surrounding peaks. At the Elfin Lakes campsite (also known as the Diamond Head Area), there are two lakes, one for drinking water and one for swimming; there is also a ranger’s hut, a camper’s hut, a small dining building, tent pads and picnic tables. We made it to the lakes in 2 hours 20 mins, but didn’t have any prior plans for additional exploration, so we headed towards Opal Cone, which is about 6.5 km from the lakes. After crossing the new bridge over Ring Creek, the valley to Opal Cone is mostly a rugged rock landscape and today it was quite warm with the sun beating down. We ended up about 1.5 km and 300 m elevation short of Opal Cone – we had to turn back due to the early sunset – so close!!! Will have to plan this next year! We did a distance of 30 km today with 1500 m elevation gain in 8 hours.
Blog here… http://www.buntzenlake.ca/elfin-lakes/
Andy G. at Wedgemount Lake:
“On a beautiful blue-sky day, our full group of eight made the steep climb up to the lake, where we enjoyed a well-earned lunch break before heading over to admire the glacier.
A decade since my first visit to the lake, and of all the hikes in my decade series, this one has perhaps shown the most obvious change. The glacier has receded over 100 metres in that time, with this last summer being especially devastating. It has to be seen to be believed. And yet it is still perhaps the most accessible glacier in the Lower Mainland, and still a ridiculously photogenic place.
In case you hadn’t heard, there’s a new trailhead and parking lot, at the end of a new road that is signposted from the old parking lot. Be aware that there is active construction going on there too. The lower section of the trail is also new, and I have to say much improved over the old. After about a km the new and old trails merge and the hard work begins. The mud was negligible, and only one fallen tree to negotiate. A mere 3 hours of steady hiking saw us at the lake (only two and a half hours back to the car) leaving us nearly 3 hours to enjoy being up there.
Thanks to everyone for another great day out!”
Audrey at Elfin Lakes:
“I did a last minute callout on a Thursday when the weather forecast announced 4 days of amazing sunshine – indeed, the sun was out the whole time! I also found out about the shelter at Elfin Lakes and thought a weekday outside the summer seemed just perfect to enjoy such a popular spot. Elfin Lakes can be done in a day, but you would miss the best part: the sunset from the deck of the shelter, and the lovely chat with very nice people around your evening dinner 🙂
Stan and I started going up at about 1.30 pm Friday and reached Red Heather after 1h 30m, with snow from halfway. It took us 3 more hours on an amazing ridge with 360° views, to get to Elfin Lakes (which were of course, frozen!) Snowshoes were definitely required from Red Heather to Elfin Lakes because of the new, deep layer of snow that had fallen the week before. We saw many people the next day going up without them, but it was way easier and faster with them!
This was an amazing hike, with great views, a really slow way up (600 m in 11 km) and the shelter has everything you need: bunkbeds, stoves and even electricity (+ an outside pit toilet). Wow! It’s really worth the scramble in the snow! The landscape up there is gorgeous, especially with all the snow.
On Saturday, we took some time to explore the trails going further (unlike the winter trail to Elfin Lakes, which is very well marked and easy to find, trails going further are unmarked), but going further would require to spend one more day up there (especially with all the snow). It took us 3h 30m to go back and we ended the trip with a visit to Howe Sound Brewery in Squamish, yum!
What a fantastic trip, and also my first callout, thanks again for all the help through Facebook!”
Chris M. at Russet Lake:
“Our small group of two went with a backup plan – 2-night trip to Russet Lake. I thought we would take the gondola up and hike down route. However, the gondola is shut down until Nov 27 so we started hiking from the village at noon. The Singing Pass Trail is very easy to follow, though there are two washouts, with the Harmony Creek one being the worst. After joining the trail from Musical Bumps the snow became much deeper than anticipated and I was postholing frequently. Because of that, just before dark we set up a tent on the snow and went to sleep with a nice view of Black Tusk. The snow was firmer in the morning and travel was much easier. We went directly over Cowboy Ridge and down to the lake and hut. Russet Lake had only recently frozen over and fresh water was still flowing out (I don’t know if this is available all winter long). It was clear and beautiful. The views were especially terrific from Cowboy Ridge, where we had gone back up to watch the colours after sunset. The temperature dropped and it was a very cold night in the hut. I wasn’t really ready for winter yet. The trail out was frozen and awkward in a few spots but still only took about 4.5 hours to reach the village of Whistler.”
Andy G. on the Great Garibaldi Glacier Lily Hunt:
“Glacier lilies! A familiar refrain to the ears of those who know me. It was a pleasure to introduce two Wanderung and Garibaldi Lake first-timers to those cheery yellow flowers. As expected, they were a little past their peak but we did see a few nice patches. We wandered up beyond Outhouse Junction, following the trail towards Black Tusk for a km or so where we found the best flower displays. Then we headed down to the lake to cool off our feet. The most surprising discovery of the trip was the water level in the lake: I’ve never seen it so low. Rubble Creek wasn’t flowing out of the lake at all, with nothing but old trees visible.
The trail is in excellent shape, if a little dusty right now. No snow and almost no mud. The campgrounds look to be snow-free. We encountered the crew working on upgrading the trail and rested awhile to chat with them. Bugs are mostly not a problem except at Taylor Meadows campground, where the bug rating was upgraded to irritating. I was hoping to see a bear, as that would have made for bear sightings on my last 3 callouts, but it was not to be. (I did the same trip a few days later and we saw a lone black bear grazing the meadows between Taylor Meadows and Outhouse Junction.)
Full flower update is on Live Trails and photos are on Flickr.
Many thanks to Jackie and Aaron for indulging my obsession and keeping me company on a long day of hiking.”