Garibaldi Provincial Park | Winter Camping on the Lake

Song in Headphones: Place to Be

For years, Garibaldi Lake has been on my hiking to-do list. In the summer, it draws many people near and far; I mean, why wouldn’t it. As soon as you complete your descend to the lake, the vast enclosed body of water takes you back. It’s massive, blue and incredibly intimidating – this was going to be the beginning of the best girls weekend getaway.

Day 1 |

Snowshoes strapped to the back of our 40-somewhat pound packs, we began the incline from the parking lot with just out hiking boots. There wasn’t enough snow at the time to trudge through.

The hike in to Garibaldi Lake is a 9km trail mostly made up of gruelling steady-incline switch backs. It’s not bad at all and on average takes people 3-4 hours (carrying backpacks of course). At the 6.5km mark, you will get to the Black Tusk/Taylor Meadow Junction. Feel free to take a snack/water break – you have 2.5 km to go. The rest of the trail is a decline towards the waterline. Super easy and not too long.

gari 1

I fell in love with this route. It’s so tranquil (at least in the winter — it tends to become a zoo in the summer months). Be sure to check out this hike in the future — especially in the winter. It’s quite a site to see!


We arrived to the lake just before the sun started setting. The skies were clear which meant two things: there would be amazing stars out tonight, and it would be f*cking cold. I tell you, once the sun hid behind the mountains, the temperature drops another 10 degrees. It was super cold. A cold I hadn’t felt in a long time. Thankfully, there are a couple of shelters on the lake where you can cook your food and hangout away from the elements. Also, a shout out to the North Face for keeping me warm in my down jacket. I was very hesitant to purchase it, but was I ever glad I did. I wore it everywhere when I wasn’t hiking. Stay tuned for a future blog post that will talk about all the gear I have gathered other the years that have kept me alive in -15 degree weather.

After eating dinner, we cracked open our fireball mickeys. We were in bed by 7:30..lame I know.

Day 2 |

gari 2

The next day, my friend Marnel and I decided to attempt Panorama Ridge. What started out as an imagined “will-marked” winter trail, ended up being a total free-for-all expedition. The trail to the ridge had no markings (from what we saw). As soon as you escape the tree line, it’s all white. Shuffling around for a bit we came across other snowshoe/ski tracks, so we followed those for a while. Those footprints ended as we continued on, so we stopped and consulted the situation. We could either A) turn around and head back, or B) look to a point on the mountain we wanted to reach and climb our own way. Well, I’m sure you already know what happened (We are kind of crazy mountain people). With every great risk come great responsibility; so, we decided on a turn around time whether we make it to the top or not.

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Free-for-all trekking in the Garibaldi Backcountry                                     Photo Credit: Marnel Presto

Moseying in between gnarly frozen trees and trudging through glorious powder; we finally found a spot that made us both happy. It wasn’t the top of panorama ridge, nor was it the Black Tusk. We sat ourselves directed in between the two. Putting out shovels to use, we each dug ourselves seats with backrests. Kicking off our hiking boots we nestled our tired feet in our down booties. Lunch was the mission now – pho to be exact!

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garibaldi 6
View for Lunch!

It was sad to leave, but the sun had reached its peak and was beginning to set. The route down was all to do with memory and tracing down the tracks we made initially. We made it back in an hours time. The rest of the evening was full of jerky, fireball, tea and great chats with new friends. I had bought some battery powered xmas lights from Canadian Tire prior to this trip. They came in handy!

garibaldi 8
Preparing for the Holiday Season!

Day 3|

Home day – sadly. I always get a little down knowing when I get home I’d have to return to my normal life routine. Survival mode would be turned off and good ol’ autopilot would turn on. It took us about 3 hours to make it back to the car. We couldn’t have asked for better weather, especially around the time of year in Vancouver.

Garibaldi (Winter) (16) (1)
Photo Credit: Marnel Presto

I will be back Garibaldi Lake, perhaps in the summer so I can swim in your lake!

Check out this short movie I threw together that includes footage from this trip! Click here and enjoy! :)

Keep travelling, keep exploring.

Charlotte xo


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