Eugene Y. at Elfin Lakes:
“The upper portion of the road (the last kilometre or so) was a bit icy in the morning, although it seemed to be passable for SUVs with winter tires. However it was just too slippery for our Nissan Sentra and Mazda Protege, so we had to use chains. This proved to be tricky, as one of the chains got loose and wrapped around the driving axle(?) on the way down. The parking lot was almost full when we got there around 11:45 am.
The trail was well packed, so some people just walked in their boots and didn’t use neither snowshoes nor microspikes.
It was partially cloudy – a perfect day for photographers, however the sunscreen and sunglasses were really essential.
We walked at a leisurely pace for about 2.5 hours, while enjoying the views and taking pictures. Ellie found a perfect spot for lunch about facing Mt. Garibaldi and Diamond Head. As people were getting tired and the lakes were still about 3 km away, we decided to cut the hike short. On the way back we had plenty of opportunities to socialize with fellow hikers from other clubs.
It was a really beautiful day to be on the trail. Thanks to everyone in the group for staying together as a team and contributing to the success of the trip. Special thanks to those of you who were helping with chains, it was such dirty work!”
Dennis K. in Singing Pass:
“After a long hiatus from Wanderung, but not hiking, I decided to post a callout for this day hike of Singing Pass & the Musical Bumps. I have to admit it’s quite an ambitious objective for all but those in great fitness. Seven other people signed up for this hike. Unfortunately, two of them dropped out, one due to a legitimate illness, the other due to inclement weather?
The trail was in great condition. All the way to Singing Pass it was generally firm snow, but still had a bit of cushion underfoot which was ideal for snowshoes and skis (unlike the hard-packed concrete conditions you sometimes get on Seymour/Hollyburn). Although the BC Parks websites posts warnings for creek crossings, these have long been covered by snow.
I was lucky to get a really good group that was in great fitness and we were making great time as we approached Singing Pass. Unfortunately, one of our group was not feeling well and had to turn back. Two others joined her. Myself and two others continued to Singing Pass but since visibility was poor it was judged not worthwhile to continue over the Musical Bumps. Instead, we turned back and joined the others in the Village for a well deserved beer and a meal. All in all I was happy I got out. Rain or shine I never regret getting out for a hike. Thanks for all who joined me and made this a fun day.”
Andy at Cheakamus Lake:
“I’d forgotten just how nice this trail can be. If you’re thinking of a good little leg-stretcher, Cheakamus Lake should be on your list for sure, especially at this time of year with the forest flowers at the start of their bloom. Our full group of eight chatted its way up to the Singing Creek campground and back, hardly noticing the distance and time. No snow and only one fallen tree to go under/over/around. The road is in decent shape and 2wd can make it to the trailhead easily – just take it slow as there are many potholes. The few drops of rain that fell went unnoticed, and the sun came out again on our return. A hungry pika kept us entertained for a few minutes, munching its way through some of the horsetails. A great group – thanks all for coming out and making this hike such a good one! The only thing that could have improved this hike would have been a bear sighting… Oh wait – we got that on the drive home!”
Rob M. at Elfin Lakes:
“A 9am lift off out of Vancouver to get a berth in the Elfin Lakes Hut on a fair-weather long weekend might seem a bit cocky but it turned out well, even at a very relaxed pace. We dawdled long and hard at Galileo’s and putzed about the tire chains with equanimity. A brief stoke and poke into the stove at Red Heather, and we were again off. Two glorious Michaelangelic days chanting wow, wow, wow (like a bark impediment) – a simian with a camera couldn’t have taken a bad shot. Unfortunately there was someone in the cabin whose snore could have forced a bull elephant seal to stand down. Arguably, since we didn’t sleep, we also didn’t wake up. So, sleepless at Elfin Lakes and two in blister denial, we went in different rec directions – tele-skiing, snow caving and snow bunny-ing. Returning to the parking lot, the chant continued – as if it ever stopped. Great food, fab company – a Pothole Filler Imperial at the Brew Pub was the stout on the cake. The crew – Ran (host), Laura (driver), Laura (token vegetarian), Rob (lensman).”
Andy at Garibaldi Lake:
“Andrea and John joined Maria and myself for a turkey-free long weekend of camping and hiking in perfect weather at Garibaldi Lake. Saturday morning, we bagged the last spot in the upper parking lot (at 8:15 am!) and were camped at the lake by 12 noon. Fortunately the majority of the vehicles were from day hikers – we had no trouble finding places to camp. Maria, Andrea and I headed for Panorama Ridge and its panoramic views while John soaked up the sun by the lake. Ear-plugs were very handy on Saturday night thanks to a couple of noisy groups who entertained everyone in earshot for a few hours. Did you know that if you howl like a wolf, the sound echoes around the lake…?
On Sunday morning the four of us headed for Mt Price. This isn’t a trail for novice hikers: part of the route involves crossing huge boulders with big dark gaps between them, and then there’s the steep ascent (and descent) of Clinker Peak on loose scree and dirt. But if you make your way through all that, the rewards are phenomenal with views even more panoramic than those from Panorama Ridge. The north face of Garibaldi looks close enough to touch, and both Clinker and Price are covered in volcanic rocks of all colours. At times it looked like we were on Mars. Sunday night was much quieter.
Monday we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast before a speedy two-and-a-half hour descent to the car (where even the lower parking lot was now full!). We were back in Vancouver in time for Thanksgiving dinner.”
Andy on Round Mountain:
“Maria and I joined Carollyne on her trip up to Round Mountain and Paul Ridge. Getting to the parking lot was straightforward for a 2wd car with tire chains. The road was icy beyond the chain-up area (though it had melted by the afternoon) and compact snow from the top of the hill near the overflow parking. Snowshoes were not necessary as the trail was packed firm – only beyond the Red Heather shelter did we put them on so we could venture into the untracked powder. The snow was perfect and despite the popularity of the area it never felt crowded. We found a (very) sunny spot on the shoulder of Round Mountain and sunbathed for an hour, while taking in the views of Garibaldi, the Tantalus Range and the Sky Pilot group. On the descent we had to watch for huge snow bombs melting off the trees – we had one close call which could have been unpleasant. We ended the day with fine refreshments at the Howe Sound Brewpub and were treated to the sight of Venus, Jupiter and a very thin crescent moon over Howe Sound on the drive home. A grand day out but beware the hungry whisky jacks…!”
Steve on the Helm Creek cross-over:
“This was a manly trip. Five rugged men (Ben, Greg, John, Steve and Cam) with full packs dumped a car at Rubble Creek and then entered Garibaldi Park from the Cheakamus River end. We took snowshoes not being sure exactly what kind of conditions we’d be facing. We did really well on the ascent and as we lunched at the Helm Creek campsite we realized we were ahead of schedule and could afford to hike further before camping. There, as the sun beat down on us, I was convinced we wouldn’t need the snowshoes… but I was wrong. Another 200 m of gain and we hit the Cinder Flats completely covered by powdery snow. It was beautiful, and warm, ideal snowshoe conditions. We decided to go up Cinder Cone and take a look, the views of Black Tusk, Panorama Ridge etc. were great from there. Though we had prepared for “chilly” camping, some of us may have been a little under-prepared for a -15 C night on snow (at least I was). My feet have only just thawed as I type this. The exit via Garibaldi Lake (still snow free) was quite scenic as many of the leaves had turned. The Whisky Jacks were in full force and the photo weather of the lake itself as nice as I’ve ever seen it. A big thanks to Cam who shared his Winter camping tips with us!
For anyone planing a trip next weekend into Garibaldi, I’d say your window is closing. Any crossing like we did will be a winter trip for sure. Skis or snowshoes mandatory. And if you are planning going to the lake, I suspect ice and snow are coming soon.”
Evgeny doing Castle Towers in a day:
“Three of us joined in an effort to make a one day megahike to Castle Towers mountain. We started at 8:20 am and in 2 hours reached Helm Meadows campsite area. As we decided against the glacier traveling we went up Gentian Ridge along the moraine near Helm Peak. Instead of getting to the top of the ridge initially we started traversing it on the side, which was initially easier but ended up as a bad idea when the slope became too steep, so we ended up scrambling to the top of the ridge anyway. Ridge walking was easy though we noticed a strong wind that was making some difficulties to walk. We had lunch right after we bagged Fuscian Peak which is the highest bump along this ridge, which has about 5 or 6 bumps between the Helm Peak and the top of the Helm Glacier. It was a clear day with few clouds before we started descending to Gentian Pass. After that clouds covered most of the sky but we were lucky that all the rain passed us by.
We reached the top of Polemonium Ridge at 3:15 pm and realized that we need to go a substantial part down again to pass the gap between Polemonium Ridge and Castle Towers mountain itself. The descent was a nice-looking but unpleasant to scramble narrow gully filled with loose rocks that required careful walking to prevent stones to fall on the heads of people who were scrambling below. The slope of Castle Towers from the western side is a huge boulder field, which still had a last year snow fields on it. On the way up we went over the snow but on the way down we avoided them because they were shallow and steep. At 5:05 pm we summitted the west sub-summit spending 8 hours 45 minutes for ascent. We made a short break there for food and rest and went back soon after. The views were awesome but it was hard to take pictures because the wind was really strong. We made up the narrow gully before the sunset, which was at 7 pm.
Darkness fell when we were descending from Polemonium Ridge to Gentian Pass. Due to GPS visualization problems of long tracks we couldn’t trace our steps back so we used our own route finding and GPS map coordinates to get back to the car with head lamps. We got back on Gentian Ridge and scrambled our way under the gorgeous clear skies full of stars. Those skies were clear for a reason. The wind was very strong and at some mildly exposed sections of the ridge we were literally crawling to avoid being blown off the ridge. At 11 pm we stopped for a snack behind one of the bumps that protected us from the wind turned off the head lamps and enjoyed absolutely beautiful stars in the sky. Then we proceeded along the ridge looking for a convenient scramble down. That wasn’t easy with headlamps but we successfully descended to the meadows and at the midnight we were standing on the wide trail leading back to the parking lot. If we were going up for 2 hours, the way back down took us 3 hours 20 minutes. I didn’t feel very tired and had no blisters at all but soles of my feet were so beaten up by just stomping them for already 16 hours that it was unpleasant to step on them. I had no doubt that my companions felt at least the same. Nevertheless, we endured the last part of the hike in the dark forest and at 3:20 am after exactly 19 hours of hiking we were back at the car. Hey, that wasn’t all for me, I was driving back to Vancouver till 6 am… The driving was also epic but that’s another story. 🙂
Soundtrack of a hike: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rcv3FkL29IQ
For detailed report see: https://www.livetrails.com/report/3639/0/Castle_Towers_from_Helm_Creek“
Stuart at Elfin Lakes:
“The Gran Fondo bike event worked in our favour with the exception of an over enthusiastic volunteer who closed off the Sea to Sky Hwy at Horseshoe Bay at 5am instead of 6.30am. After a short detour through Horseshoe Bay and breakfast in Squamish four diehards set of at the trailhead at 6.50am. We had the whole trail to ourselves in the morning and hiked the ridge in the shade as the sun was still low in the sky. We arrived at Elfin Lakes at 9.30am and lucked out as the water was like glass providing amazing reflections of the backdrops. The cabin was fairly empty with just a few hikers who came in the night before. After 1 ½ hours at the Lakes the group decided to take in the Gargoyles as it was still morning and we thought we would be able to get away from the persistent black flies to eat lunch but no such luck. Heading up the Saddle Trail and the additional 6km hike/scramble to the Gargoyles is rewarded with amazing vistas of Columnar Peak, and back towards Elfin Lakes. Watch out for the small blue frozen lake to the North, but even cooler was the hiker at the summit reading a Kindle. We returned to Elfin Lakes for a dip to cool off in the refreshing glacial waters before heading back to the parking lot. Parts of the ridge and Saddle Trails are still covered in snow providing a means to cool off.”
Dan at Wedgemount Lake:
“Finding ourselves with more sunshine than forecasted, we upgraded our destination and headed to Wedgemount Lake for this glorious weekend. The snow was vastly more abundant and better than last winter; there was hardly any no iciness. A congenial group of seven with varying levels of experience, we snowshoed the entire way with only minimal slipperiness. Routefinding did not pose any problems on this trip.
We reprised last spring’s approach and headed up a ridge beneath Mount Cook – descending back down onto Wedgemount Lake – and bypassed the steep and avy-looking summer route. Once at the lake, we witnessed a few cornice-triggered avalanches. Calum videoed one and it is posted on the Wanderung Flickr site.
Three of us then headed across the lake and onto Wedgemount Glacier. We were awestruck by the vast jaggedness of Nature’s beauty, with brilliant vistas and rugged wonders in every direction that took our breaths away! Let me tell you, this is a must-see winter locale if pristine alpine nature is your thing. We did not run into a single soul the entire day! More photos on my Live Trails report.”