The original plan was to go on a two day hike to Table mountain camping in Table meadows to explore the Table. Somehow that transformed into a plan to go on a loop hike around Garibaldi Lake on the first long weekend of August.
I failed to check out the Walk around Garibaldi Lake trip report posted here before embarking on a trip, which would have been quite handy. I feel obliged to post my trip report here for reference.
On the first day we (me and my husband) followed Panorama Ridge trail arriving at the Rubble Creek parking lot at 7:30 a.m. A ranger warned us that the Garibaldi Lake camping site was full. We told her that we headed to Burton Hut, to which she only replied "Good to know". I took her calm comment as an encouraging sign.
At 2 p.m. we were at Panorama Ridge, stopping for a lunch break and taking photos.
You can spot Burton Hut in center left of this photo.
Finding and climbing Gentian Peak was relatively easy as it was clearly seen from Panorama Peak with multiple possible routes and some scree scramble.
You do not have to climb to the summit of Gentian Peak to get to Burton Hut. You can bypass Gentian Peak by walking on lower ridge closer to Garibaldi Lake as we learned later from a guide in Burton Hut. On the other hand, Gentian peak is an easy class 2-3 scramble, and its summit offers some nice views of Helm Glacier, so it may be well worth while spending some time on the summit as well.
We went down the steep grass covered slope of Gentian Peak to the green valley where we followed a creek down to Garibaldi Lake. When the creek turned into a waterfall and a small cliff and we had to turn left and climb a small ridge towards Sphinx Bay. The descent from the ridge to Spinx Bay was steep and ugly with lots of dead trees. I lost my sunscreen and sunglasses in a couple of falls. In the hindsight I think that a better way would be to try and descend the ridge all the way to Garibaldi Lake and then walk along a narrow sandy strip of Garibaldi Lake towards Sphinx Bay and Burton Hut.
We arrived at Burton Hut around 9:00 p.m. feeling exhausted and went straight to bed skipping a dinner. We found that stress and fatigue kills the appetite.
We met three other hikers in Burton Hut which was a bit of surprise, as we had been pretty sure we would be alone. There was a couple including a hiking guide, who came to Burton Hut by boat from Garibaldi Lake camping site. They brought 3 kg inflatable kayaks, which they planned to use the next day for their hike to Table mountain bypassing Guard mountain. There was also a solo hiker who was hiking around Garibaldi lake like us but he started from Helm Creek campsite and spent a previous night near Gentian Peak.
On the next day we planned to climb the Guard mountain and Table ridge and stay in Table meadows for the night, but that plan fell part due to a number of unexpected setbacks. First we failed to find a suitable spot to cross a glacier creek with freezing cold water and ended up bushwhacking around it and a couple of lakes towards the Sphinx glacier where the creek originated and wasted 2.5 hours on this. My advice to future hikers is to cross the glacier creek somewhere close to Burton Hut. There are some some feasible creek crossing options there. You should not be afraid to get soaked a bit.
The first part of ascent to Guard mountain was relatively easy.
Since we had another glacier creek to cross, we decided cross it near the edge of the glacier, where it originated.
Since we did not have crampons with us, we could not walk safely on the glacier and had to scramble up the very steep slopes of Guard mountain covered by loose rocks and scree. The worst part was scrambling on the edge of the glacier to the col, as there are some really wide gaps between glacier and Guard slope where you can slip and fall under the glacier. I chose to turn back and scramble on a steep scree slope instead. With crampons we could have easily walked on the glacier instead. This would have saved us a lot of time and effort.
Deception Peak from the Guard col
Glacier Pikes and Garibaldi mountain
In 1.5 hours we descended to Sentinel Bay where Glaciology Huts were located. The descent was easier than expected with some lush alpine meadows along the way.
We searched for a feasible ascent path to the ridge leading to Table mountain but could not spot it from a distance. We chose a creek close to Garibaldi lake to ascend to the ridge and decided to camp nearby for the night in order not to waste time in the morning. My husband did not want to stay in Glaciology Huts as they were believed to be in a worse condition than Burton Hut. We decided to call it an early night at 7:30 p.m. and start ascent to the ridge first thing in the morning, as it looked quite sketchy.
We did encounter a couple of sketchy spots where the creek disappeared underground and turned into a waterfall leaving us with virtually nothing to hold on to, which caused us some headache. Nonetheless we managed to complete the ascent to the ridge in 1.5 hours next morning by 10 a.m. and appeared to be on track to make it to the parking on the same day before dark. I learned from the other trip report posted here that the easier ascending path is right behind Glaciology Huts. We saw another alternative path along the forest line from the Garibaldi Lake shore.
We were rewarded by some spectacular views from the Table ridge.
After an easy descent to Table Meadows we felt like we are almost there - we have passed the most challenging part of the hike and should reach the marked Mount Price trail in a 2-3 hours. Alas, this was an illusion. We decided to hike the ridge to the col between Mount Price and Clinker Peak, but we missed our col. The ridge led to Clinker Peak where we should have turned right and scrambled on large boulders up to the familiar Clinker slope. Instead we turned left and found ourselves on a huge lava boulder field, which was extremely difficult to walk. It took us 2.5 hours and a few scratches to cross. We made it to the beginning of the marked trail only by 7:30 p.m. We were at Garibaldi lake campsite by 10 p.m. and at the parking lot by midnight. When planning a hike into Garibaldi park wilderness budgeting an extra day seems like a good idea.
This was quite an adventure. We saw a group of four hikers walking on the Sphinx glacier near Guard mountain and also a group of 4-5 hikers walking on the Table ridge. I hope they will leave their trip reports here too.