Canada Expedition: Day 1 – Views, Wilderness and Snowshoes in June

Mid-June, at it was time to head out into the wild again: this time for the “real deal”, the expedition which we had been waiting for – some of us with excited anticipation, a few with dread and fear. I certainly fell into the first category, despite (or maybe because?) of being in charge of navigation for the group.
What more could one ask for than a multi-day hike through the snow-covered peaks of British Columbia, spending our nights in tents and sub-zero temperatures, our days almost exclusively on snowshoes?

Initially, though, snowshoes were nowhere to be seen; temperatures were well above 20°C when we set off for the first part of our hike, through thick, evergreen forests.

Ferns lined our path, and occasionally we passed over or through small creeks and rivers. I even found a young example of Canada’s national tree, the maple:

Several hours of us following a path of varied preparedness through the forest before we decided to settle for lunch – and boy, did we select a good spot. Sitting on top of what were strangely smooth boulders (which I can only assume to be of volcanic origin), we had a truly stunning view over the valley ahead of us.

Occasionally, we heard a clattering sound coming from the stone wall opposing us – the dust which started to rise would soon make clear to us that this was the sound of rockfall. While any sane person may be scared off by such a sound, it had rather the inverse effect on me, and of course I took the opportunity to go and scout around as well as to go and investigate the rocks (though not exactly in the area where the rocks had fallen just a few minutes prior).

The rocks were surprisingly light (again volcanic, I guess), and moved even at the slightest touch. Though that didn’t stop me from climbing to the top, it did seem a bit risky so I decided not to stay for too long.

Not climbing around on potentially deadly slopes proved a good idea, as instead I was greeted by some very friendly and curious chipmunks:

After this quite eventful lunch break, we continued our hike upwards. It wasn’t long before we wished back the 20+°C of the morning, for now we had to take out our snowshoes. Walking on show shoes takes quite some time to get used to, and will never be quite as simple as walking normally and on normal ground, though admittedly it is quite nice not to sink into the snow knee-deep with every step. We were undeterred by the added challenge, and continued upwards, past curious sights and stunning views.

Eventually, in the distance, we saw our destination for the day: the majestic lake Garibaldi. Though it was by now mid-June, the lake was still largely frozen, though through the few patches without ice, one could see the incredibly clear water underneath it. After looking around the edges of the lake (and collecting some fresh drinking water from within it, while trying not to get our feet wet), we found the campsite we would stay at for the night. Really quite a place to stay – there was only one issue: The outhouse (toilet) was covered under four meters of snow, and it an hour of hard work and three of us to uncover and build a usable snow stairway down into it, with me having the unadmirable job of working from the bottom up.
Eventually, it was right next to the majestic Garibaldi lake that we cooked ourselves some eggcelent pre-prepared egg meals, hung our stuff out of the reach of the bears and then set up camp for the night – our first night back out in the wilderness of Canada.


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