Garibaldi Provincial Park | Expedition to Elfin Lakes

What is snowshoeing?! It’s without a doubt, always a question that comes up whenever I meet people who aren’t from the great North. When it gets to the explaining part, it usually ends in humiliation because it sounds ridiculous. Yea, sure call them tennis rackets. What they don’t know is how much of a life saver they are when it comes to trekking through meters deep of powder. There are also – I might add — quite the fashion statement.

This past February, I spent the Valentines Day weekend up on a Mountain, and around the people and place I love. No sappy rom coms for me. I knew I had to get my inner beast out in order for this trek to be successful.

I’ve hiked a few times in Garibaldi Provincial Park, and each time have been so different. What made snowshoeing to Elfin so memorable was all the things we least expected. I thought I’d talk about my top 5 moments of this trip:


1) Hitching a Ride in the Back of Pickup truck that was carrying white cedar trunks

I’d not even exaggerating. This actually happened. In brief, our original plan was to ride the two cars up to the trail head, and park them there for the duration of our trip. Well…turned out they couldn’t make it and we had to pull an emergency stop and park them on the ride of the logging road. Awesome. At the time, this meant we would be hiking an extra 3-4 kilometers. So, we suited up and strapped on our fashionable snowshoes. We were off. About 10 strides in, we heard a car coming up behind us. A red pickup truck pulled up behind us, and a 65 or so year old man rolled down his window. Before we knew it, we were in the back of his pickup truck getting a lift to the trailhead. He had to take two trips to carry all of us and our gear. All I remember is getting blinded by snow, and smelling the glorious white cedar with a tad of burning gasoline. Thank goodness for 4 wheel drives. He was one of the most down-to-earth, person I’ve ever met.

Building of the Quinzee!
Building of the Quinzee!

2) Building My First Quinzee!

*Canadian nerd warning* What the heck is a Quinzee?! Well…let me explain. A Quinzee is something that takes an entire day to make. It’s pretty much a snow cave that you can sleep in — awesome right?! I’m serious though, it was THE highlight of the trip. After thorough research and googling a few days prior, a bunch of us knew we were going to make this cave unreal. Well, not to brag, but we did!

When making a Quinzee on a slope (like we did), you have to strap on your snowshoes and stomp down on the area you’re going to dig. This prevents it’s from caving in. Once finished, we decided to make it a duo entrance – holla! The two entrances lead you into a common area corridor and eventually into the main “sleeping” area. In the end, we punched holds in the walls and lit tea lights! No we didn’t sleep in it…it wasn’t big enough to fit us all. Plus, up the way was a heated shelter…next time for sure!

crazy carpets

3) Crazy Carpets

The best 2 dollars I’ve ever spent. When half of us were working on the Quinzee, the other half was constructing an awesome crazy carpet slope! I’m talking about a run that would get you going a good 10km per hour! Crazy!

The other time we used the carpets was on our last day heading back down the mountain. That’s right, all 7 mature adults were on their butts, sliding down the trail and crashing into each other one by one.

Candle lit chocolate fondue with dried fruit -- we classy!
Candle lit chocolate fondue with dried fruit — we classy!

4) Valentines Chocolate Fondue

What is Valentines day without copious amounts of chocolate covered (freeze-dried) fruit?! It was so worth the wait as we cooked the chocolate “oh-so-carefully.” It was so delicious. Burning all those calories building the Quinzee made it taste so much more scrumdiddlyumptious!


5) Meeting our friend once more

If you’re not one to believe in coincidences, then this might just change your perception on things. I’m not joking. We were almost there…the trail head. Our legs stiff, and our butts sore (from the crazy carpets). As much as I was excited to see the trail head, I knew there was another 3 or so additional kilometers back to our parked cars.

As we approached the trail head, we slowly de-geared and eventually sat down to un-strap the snowshoes to give our feet a rest. It wasn’t until I stood up, snowshoe free, when I saw a red truck drive up. wait, no way. That cannot be the same truck. I didn’t believe it, until the man stepped out of the truck. I think he was just as blown away as we were.

Well…you can probably predict what happened…we hitched another ride with him! He wasn’t carrying white cedars in the back, so we were all able to fit in the back! Once we approached the cars, all of us piled out and regathered our things. I couldn’t leave without giving the man something in return. I rummaged though my backpack only to pull our my last Alexander Keith IPA beer and a 20 dollar bill. I said “cheers,” and we parted ways.

Garibaldi Provincial Park is amazing. Elfin even more. Come to Vancouver and see our city, but also take the time to go “off the beaten path” and explore the park. Whether you snow camp like I did, or simply go on a day hike; I promise, you won’t be disappointed.

Here are some more photos of the trip!

Shot taken on the Ridge
Just a bit snow...
Just a bit snow…
The Shelter was equipped with games such as Risk and Jenga!
Goodbye Elfin Shelter!
Goodbye Elfin Shelter!
Heading back. Mt. Garibaldi behind us Top Left)
Heading back. Mt. Garibaldi behind us (Top Left)
Closer shot of Mt. Garibaldi

Stay Gold,

Charlotte xo

Have you ever gone snowshoeing? What about winter camping?  If so, what did you think?!

~ All ideas and shenanigans are property of ~

6 Comments Add yours

  1. Dana says:

    Cool! You’ve convinced me !

  2. Amazing pictures – looks great!! Xx

  3. HC says:

    Hi, what time did you start the hike (at trail head?)… Thinking about doing this!

    1. Charlotte says:

      If you’re planning on hiking Elfin around this time of year, I’d get to the trail head around 9 (if you want to beat hiking in the dark) :) Both times I’ve hiked this, we’ve started around that time. It’s also worth starting early because you’ll more than likely get a bunk in the shelter! Hope this helped!

      1. HC says:

        Thanks for the info. The pics look beautiful … Hopefully we get as much snow this weekend!
        Just to check, 9 am recommendation for weekends too? (To get a bunk :P )

      2. Charlotte says:

        Yep! That should be enough time. If you’re a keener, 8:30 am won’t hurt :) You can also have the comfort of taking your time (something I wish I had the last time I went..haha.)

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