Remember Garibaldi Lake from September? Normally, in the winter, it freezes over and the ice is buried under several feet of snow. However, due to the stupid warm winter we had, the several feet of snow failed to materialize and Garibaldi Lake is, effectively, a massive ice rink. On Sunday (Feb 22), my dad and a few of his friends hiked up to Garibaldi Lake and played hockey. The weather was amazing, so Dad couldn’t resist pulling my sister Philippa and I out of school and hiking up to Garibaldi Lake to do some more skating on Monday.
After a quick breakfast, we got in the car at around 8 o’clock. We drove up the Sea to Sky Highway, past Mulgrave, Howe Sound, and Squamish, and started hiking up the Garibaldi Lake trail at about 9:45.
The first 7 kilometres of the Garibaldi Lake trail consists of switchbacks endlessly climbing a steep hill to the high country. After carrying a heavy backpack for the September ascent, I did not have fond memories of this part of the trail. (Neither did anyone else.) However, with only skates, a helmet, and some food in our backpacks and the hockey sticks as hiking poles, it was surprisingly easy. We flew up the switchbacks in about three hours.
The switchbacks end at a fork in the trail next to a map of the area. After the switchbacks, this was a welcome sight. Ignoring the trail that led to the Taylor Meadows campsite, we hiked to the lake. Thankfully, the trail to the lake is mostly flat. We managed to save some time by hiking across Barrier Lake, one of the smaller lakes fed by the outflow of Garibaldi Lake.
At about 1:30, we reached the lake. It was as magnificent as Dad’s photos had suggested. Majestic mountains ringed the lake, crowned by blindingly white glaciers. Small islands poked up above the ice on the lake. In the distance, I could see the summit of Panorama Ridge, the place where I took the photo of the lake back in September (described in the Camp Photos post.) I thought of my classmates, who were just about to start math class.
After a quick hot dog roast, we laced up our skates, dumped our backpacks on an island and started skating on the closest outdoor rink to Vancouver. It was fun at first, but then it got worse. There was still some snow on the lake, and it had frozen into a weak layer of ice above the solid ice of the lake. By the time we got to the lake, the day’s sunlight had weakened the top layer. As a result, when I put any weight on any part of my skate, there was this annoying crunching sound and my skate would sink about an inch into the ice. It made hockey very annoying. We eventually decided to head back to the island we’d left our bags on.
After putting our skates away, Dad and I decided to hike to the base of Panorama Ridge. The view from the middle of the lake was incredible. As a small creek flowed into the lake near the base of Panorama Ridge, the ice was thinner than we were comfortable with and we stopped just short of our destination.
After a quick chocolate bar at the island, it was time to head out. We put our packs back on and hoofed it down the endless switchbacks (with a stop at the Barrier viewpoint on the way). The descent flew by and we reached our car several minutes before sundown.
Dad posted a trip report here: http://forums.clubtread.com/27-british-columbia/53297-hockey-garibaldi-lake.html