“What? … 18 kms? … up and down a mountain? …. the same day? … You’re kidding me right!” – The pink flip flops were not amused. Neither was I. And I had the same reaction when my friends suggested we should hike up to Lake Garibaldi and back the same day. Lake Garibaldi requires a hike 9 km up Mount Garibaldi which starts around 20 km short of Whistler – while driving up from Vancouver on the Sea to the Sky highway (Man I love that name! – it sounds magical) and unless you are planning to camp up there its 9 km back as well. Doesn’t really sound too appealing to someone like me who definitely enjoys nature but whose idea of nature truly is an ass-print in the sand, watching the seagulls, listening to the melodious waves kinds, 18 km up and down a mountain – err… not so much! Especially when preparation for that hike involves buying a bear spray and packing up all kinds of food and water that you can humanly (again – perspectives differ widely!) carry. I was getting nervous just by the sound of that idea.
When my friends sensed my growing desire to abandon the project and ditch them – they began selling it to me… incessantly … for 2 days! I won’t be lying if I said that every dialogue and discussion ended with them trying to procure a written affirmation from me – that I was “coming for the hike”. Sigh! I finally gave in 15 mins before they were scheduled to leave for (in their words) “the experience I would repent not having if I didn’t go”. The condition – we will turn around and head back if I feel its not worth it. Deal!
We all loaded up in a car and started driving down the sea to the sky (ah! magic again) highway at 7 in the morning. Stopped on our way to load up on Tim Horton’s goodies and off we were to meet Mr. Garibaldi. Soon enough we reached our destination and with a deep breath of incredibly fresh mountain air we started the hike. It started off casually like any other hike – a few rocks, a few stairs and a lot of trees, the best part – no bears! All good so far! Soon I was beginning to realize what they meant by “it’s not a difficult hike” and “we will turn around whenever it gets too difficult”. It was a simple hike – not a lot of gradient and the forest was actually quite peaceful.
15 mins into the hike, however, we realized that in order to prepare for the hike we made sure we took care of all the big stuff but forgot a very basic yet very important thing – a bug spray! As we got deeper into the forest we were joined by a few escorts. Insects of every shape and size and color and worst of all – with wings and fangs made our journey more interesting. The worst of the lot – giant starving mosquitoes and nervous bees – they probably thought we were bears scrounging around for their honey (there is a possibility of slight exaggeration here – since I was looking for reasons to prove my friends wrong )
Anyway, soon we got used to the bugs, and started enjoying the forest, and as the minutes went by we got deeper and deeper into the woods. The sound of the waterfall at the beginning of the trail faded away and we started hearing crickets and birds. The hike also grew simpler and the gradient smaller and smaller until it was almost as if we were walking through the forest and not up a mountain. Soon we were half way through. I was surprised. I wasn’t tired at all. A quick status meeting between us and everyone looked at me. I just grinned and the verdict was announced – we move forward!
So scratching and clawing at mosquito bites we reached the 6 km point where we were faced with 2 options – to either go straight to Garibaldi lake which was another 3 km or take a detour through the Taylor meadows and then rejoin the trail towards the lake which added a half km to the hike. I grinned. Verdict – Taylor Meadows!
So another 2 km and we reached Taylor Meadows – now Taylor Meadows is this beautiful patch covered in colorful flowers and are treat to a weary hiker’s sight! Unfortunately, as it turned out we were at the right place but at a wrong time. The flowers do not blossom until late summer – we were early! Felt like this detour was a waste (we realized the significance of it later).
So waddling through snow patches, slush and not to mention the bees on steroids – we covered the remaining 1.5 km towards the lake until we came to a point where there was significant downhill. Coming down the slopes … we caught a glimpse of what makes people hike all the way to this point. When we look at pictures on the internet – we take for granted that the camera adds all the glamour and the real thing will obviously not look like the calendar shots people post.
We were wrong!
This is a view that peeked at us from in between the towering conifers…
And this wasn’t all…. Walking down the slope all the way to the clearing what came into view was completely, utterly breathtaking…
A closer look and the water was as turquoise as the most brilliant gem I have ever laid eyes on….
Undoubtedly one of the most amazing views I have ever seen….
“Hello Mr. Garibaldi”… the Pink flip flops say…
It felt like I had earned this sight. All the bugs and the bees and the bears were worth this. Ah! Beautiful British Columbia – Indeed! I hate to admit it but I honestly would have repented not going for this hike. We stayed there for a couple of hours, happily had all the food we had lugged all the way, took in the amazing mountain air. We even ended up taking a dip in the glacial lake. Don’t ask how we immersed ourselves in the freezing cold water but that definitely was one experience I will never ever forget.
The 18 km have vanished from my memory. This is what remains as clear as I first saw it.
See you again soon Mr. Garibaldi!