August 20th – 23rd, 2018, Garibaldi Provincial Park
Wedgemount Lake and the Elfin Lakes/Mamquam Lake are separate hikes, located on different ends of the large Garibaldi Provincial Park and about 80 kilometers of highway; however, I had the week off and didn’t feel like making the drive back and forth between Vancouver and Whistler more than necessary, so I decided to go for it and do them back to back. It was a little weird to hike, drive, then start hiking again in a day but it worked and turned into a pretty good adventure. And luckily not as smoky as the forecast would have led me to believe.
I left Vancouver after lunch, stopping in Whistler for coffee before heading up the gravel road to the Wedgemount Lake trailhead. I always forget how steep this trail is – climbing 1200 meters in 6 km – crossing avalanche fields and climbing tree root stairs until I reached the final scramble. The steepest ending of exposed, dusty, and crumbling trail to make sure you truly appreciate the view from the top. I reached the campsite around 6:30pm and decided to sleep up on one of the few platforms, sheltered from the wind, and saving me rocky walking in the morning. Making the most of the remaining light I walked over to the glacier, its milky blue ice filling one end of the valley. Fat marmots explored the hillside beside me as I filtered water, scanning their surroundings from rocks before scurrying along. Dinner was a lentil chili I’d dehydrated and was testing, I sat on the neighboring tent pad and watched the sunset as it cooked. A couple staying in the shelter joined me and we chatted under the stars about travels, experiences, and our favourite hikes. Later, snuggled in my sleeping bag and protected from the bugs I watched falling stars streak across the sky through the mesh of my tent.
Not feeling particularly hungry I forwent breakfast, deciding to get something in Whistler or Squamish, and packed up as the sun rose above the mountains. The 6 km back down was uneventful, passing quickly and for the most part, quietly. I’m not sure why I felt rushed, I knew the familiar and easier hike to Elfin Lakes wouldn’t take long but looking back I recognize it was a manifestation of my anxieties that was driving me.
I stopped again at my favourite Whistler cafe, more willing now to sit and linger in the morning sun. Driving back down to Squamish I grabbed a sandwich before turning up the long pot hole covered back road that would take me to the next trail head. The gradual (600m) 11 km trail took only a couple hours, and was only slightly spoiled by the horse flies, heat, and lack of shade once in the alpine. The fat juicy wild blueberries, however, more than made up for it, and I ate handfuls of them until my fingers were purple and sticky. Elfin Lakes is beautiful, the two little lakes – one for water one for swimming – are surrounded by views and a slopping field where the tent pads are built like little balconies each with its own million-star view. It was still warm enough to swim when I arrived and I relaxed, splashing around, washing the days’ dust from me while chatting with the other campers. Dinner was another homemade dehydrated experiment – vegetable risotto – eaten while watching the smoky sunset. I put the fly on my tent for a little more privacy, leaving the vestibule rolled back in hopes of catching a night breeze.