After an early rise in Vancouver, we were driving north in the morning light. There were some clouds in the sky, but the sun was clearly on its way through them and it promised to be a great day for hiking. A smooth ride with some nice views of the Howe Sound and the mountain range on our left, with some smaller glaciers on top of them, soon took us to the trailhead of the Garibaldi trail. The temperature was still quite fresh, so we dressed up in several layers before setting out in the quite dense forest. Hiking up the switchbacks quickly warmed us, and we soon had to stop to start peeling. Within twenty minutes, still walking among the trees, we were just in a T-shirt, and still sweating our way up. While the forest was nice, we pushed on because we knew the most impressive part of our hike would be higher up. After passing a smaller lake with a pretty emerald colour, we reached the large Garibaldi Lake. Walking along the southern shore, I was dumbstruck by its beauty. Surrounded by impressive mountains, most of them covered in eternal snow and ice, defined a rugged shoreline of this turquoise lake with its clear waters. We walked on until we found a nice spot to sit down for a while, eat something, while soaking in the sheer beauty of the surrounding area.
At the opposite side of the lake, Garibaldi glacier as a backdrop, while in the perfectly still surface of the water several small islets seemed to be floating - the Battleship Islands. A curious bird, not shy at all, was all over us trying to eat some crumbs of the crackers we were eating. No matter how pleasant sitting in this spot was, we still had a long hike ahead of us, so we moved on. After reaching the main trail again, we hiked up until the forest opened up around us and we arrived at the Taylor Meadows. This was probably the most attractive part of the hike. Colourful low bushes, trees, creeks, grassy lands surrounded us, and higher up, we could see the ridge of the surrounding mountains. We passed the turnoff for the Black Tusk, the impressive and oddly shaped black rock towering high above us, and decided to leave that for a future hike. Instead, we walked on over the lovely trail until we reached the small Mimulus and Black Tusk lakes. A little later, on our left we saw Helm Lake, which had a curious patch of dead trees on its shoreline. After trying to play with the hard snow we found in a shady spot, we continued the trail until it disappeared on the rocky surface of the last stretch. From here, it was a little more difficult to find the right way, and we had to concentrate on the orange markers.
At some points, the last stretch involved climbing with the use of our hands, and we had to traverse some small patches of snow. We had to work harder here as the gradient of the slope was increasing towards the top of the ridge. While we had seen several other hikers at a lower altitude, here it was just the two of us. The views we could see while looking over our shoulders were increasingly beautiful; the serene weather added to providing us with an unobstructed scene of mountainous landscapes. But the best view was yet to come. Once the Panorama Ridge itself was reached (at 2105 metres), I had to stand still to be able to absorb the fantastic scenes all around me. Deep below me, Garibaldi Lake which looked more turquoise from here than from the spot we had been resting before. The Garibaldi glacier at the other end of the lake, the mountains surrounding it all made for a superb view. Looking almost directly towards the sun, I spotted the Pacific in a distance, Vancouver Island on the far horizon. The great thing about Panorama Ridge is, that you have a 360 degree view - it deserves its name. The panorama was so spectacular that I took my time to enjoy the views on all sides - Whistler in the background, other mountain ranges covered with snow in virtually all directions, the curiously shaped and coloured Black Tusk closer by, punctuating the horizon with its sharp-shaped summit... It was impossible to get enough of the views, and the only reason we eventually turned around and started hiking back was, that we still had to hike all the way to the trailhead, some 14 kilometres of hiking. We got pretty hungry, we got pretty tired, but most of all, we were extremely satisfied having done this great hike.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Panorama Ridge (Canada). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Panorama Ridge.
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