Garibaldi Lake was our first taste of hiking in the Canadian Rockies. We scoped this location out since it was between Vancouver and our next stop in Whistler. We had no idea what we were getting into when we chose this hike, but I will preface this by saying that although I am an avid walker, none of us had done any amount of training and all of us live in places that are just slightly above sea level. I will also preface this by saying that we took advantage of happy hour at West Coast Wilderness Lodge and after a full bottle of wine between the three of us, Elise felt the effects of elevation and fell and twisted her ankle. Luckily, I am a physical therapist and I had her ankle wrapped and ready to go. This was bound to be an adventure.
Our first taste of hiking in the Canadian Rockies!
The signage at the entrance to the trailhead informed us that this was an 18 km hike if we went to the lake and back. In the american measurement system this is roughly 11.2 miles and I walk that almost daily in my just above sea level town of Columbus, OH. Can’t be that bad, right? What was I thinking?! We failed to also notice the signage that informed us of an 800 m (3,280 ft) elevation gain and some dreaded switchbacks to make that happen in a less strenuous way.
We had packed a bunch of snacks with us, so we were sure to take some time to enjoy them while sitting along the lake. When we finally got up from our comfortable resting spots, we felt immediate muscle soreness and amped ourselves up mentally for the hike back down. If we went up the switchbacks, we were going to have to go down them and down was bound to be worse than up (thanks eccentric quad work!). I have no idea how long the hike back down took us, but our total hiking time was over 6 hours so I’m guessing it took about the same time to go down as it did to go up.
When we finally arrived in Whistler, we could barely walk because we were so sore. We grabbed dinner and High-tailed it (to the best of our abilities) to a grocery/pharmacy store before it closed. We stocked up on aleve and tiger balm and let the magic happen. Tomorrow’s agenda included another hike, so we needed to be ready.