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Backpacking Canada

The Black Tusk: It becons!

By on July 25, 2016

Hiking the Black Tusk and visiting Garibaldi Lake was one of our favorite adventures of the trip. The Black Tusk is an iconic volcanic rock that can be seen from 100 miles in any direction and is a notable piece of Whistler’s backcountry. Getting to The Black Tusk is about 24 miles return, so we spent a night Taylor Meadows before making the final ascent the next morning.

Day 65: Vancouver, BC > Squamish, BC

Woke up at the Best Western Sands & lavished in bed. Checked out at noon and went to split a salmon benedict for brunch. Then, it was time to hit the beach! The hot canadian sun was just what the doctor ordered. All the Canadians like to sit in rows made by driftwood logs, but we sat right in the middle. I touched my toes a few times, but mostly we just got our tan on. We stopped by the pot store & Granville Public Market on our way out of town for smoked & candied salmon (a favorite from our honeymoon a few months earlier). The Sea-to-Sky highway is one of my favorite drives ever. We could see the Black Tusk in the distance, and slept on the streets of Squamish – ready to begin ascending the next day.

Day 66: Squamish, BC > Garibaldi Park, BC

Woke up and made our way towards the trail. The hike up to Taylor Meadows was a brutal 7.7km almost entirely up a steep grade through the trees. As we approached the meadow, thousands of black/white butterflies lined the trail – welcoming us. What a lovely meadow lined with sitka, lupine and other mountain blooms spreading their petals towards the sunshine. WE had another visitor to camp almost as soon as we put our packs down – a brown bear! He was attracted to the fresh mac-and-cheese our neighbors made. John jumped into action banging pots and pans. He was able to retrieve the bag of food the bear stole…so brave! Bear safety is a serious thing up North. Food should always be kept away from your tent, and you should never cook food close to where you sleep. Use bear hangs or bear boxes wherever possible. That afternoon, I ran down to Girabaldi Lake – the largest alpine lake in B.C., and so blue! The glaciers flowerd right into the back of the basin, creating quite the scene. I jumped right in an took a little swim. Did some yoga on the dock, and watched the sun duck behind the hills. John came down to the lake to fish, and caught two with his first two casts! We left after he had 4 on the line. We slept in Taylor Meadows with no rain fly, so we could see the stars. John only woke up in the middle of the night because a bear was smelling his feet!

Day 67: Garibaldi Park, BC > Squamish, BC

Woke up & packed up our tent. The campsite at Taylor meadows was impeccable –  complete with tent pads, communal bear hangs, a shelter to eat in & a “no water” toilet that repurposed human waste to fertilize the meadow…it didn’t even smell! We would later find out that Canadian campsites are all clearly superior to the average campsite in the USA. We made our way up towards the black tusk – the peak beckoning to us from miles away. There were gorgeous views of Garibaldi Lake and the Tantalus Mountain range the whole way. The last half mile of the hike was up a steep snowfield and finally rocky scree. John and I were exhausted and I was so cranky at the top that I could barely enjoy the views. Looking back at that moment, I wish I would have opened my heart to wonder and bliss instead of being trapped by anxiety at the summit. You live and you learn. We made our way back down to the car and took hundreds of pictures along the way. The last three km were so painful, we had to indulge in a sushi dinner to reward a few days of good hiking. We’re finally starting to feel really strong. No pain…no gain.

Here are some photos of the trip. We’ll add more details soon.