So, continuing on from my last post, I’ll take you on a little journey through some of the other hike/run adventures I had this summer, but this time they’re all in the Squamish area. You might recall me talking about Squamish last summer, and how it’s become the new ‘cool’ place to live if you love the outdoors – it seems like it’s still riding that high, and this summer I did get more of a chance to discover why so many people want to live there.
An Instagrammers paradise, this 20km out and back route is famed for it’s glacial blue lake, with an incredible backdrop of mountains and alpine vistas…unless you’re caught in the haze of hundreds of nearby wildfires. Sadly, this wasn’t the day for epic views, but it was the day for a lot of fun (too cheesy?).
I tackled this one with a group of 6 others, and we power hiked the first 6/7km of switchbacks uphill through the forest, before arriving at the lake. Inspired by some girls who were jumping in (mainly for the social media, but still), we decided to brave it as a group and also aim for an epic Instagram shot. Once we managed to drag Pargol in on the second go, we dried off in the sun for a bit (and warmed up – the lake was FREEZING) before heading back.
We ran back down, which is immensely satisfying as relentlessly hiking down switchbacks isn’t the most exciting thing to do when you’re getting tired and hungry. Sadly, our favourite Squamish eatery, Mags 99, was closed so our post run hunger had to be satisfied with a food truck veggie burger instead.
A couple of weeks later we were back on Highway 99 to Squamish, this time heading to Elfin Lakes. While the car park for Garibaldi is just a kilometre down a paved road from the highway, for Elfin Lakes you drive for closer to 5km down a dusty, pot hole filled track.
Similar to Garibaldi, the first few kilometres of the hike are uphill switchbacks, but at Elfin Lakes you come out into beautiful alpine trails for the second half, making the actual hike itself a lot more scenic, and not just the end point. The views of Mount Garibaldi and Garibaldi National Park surrounding it were stunning.
After a few more kilometres of rolling gravel track, you reach Elfin Lakes; two alpine lakes surrounded by mountains. You can camp in what might be the most scenic campground in the world, or just stop for a photo break by the lakes, one of which you can swim in.
On the run back down (again, hiking efficiency at it’s best) I did nearly step on a snake, which wasn’t my favourite thing to happen all summer, but I did come to the conclusion that at least when you’re running you can get away from it quicker…
Even though we did this one just this week, I’m still going to put it under the Summer adventures file. Feeling extremely adventurous, Hollie and I braved this one alone, heading out along 20km of logging road from the Squamish highway into what felt very much the backcountry, watching as the temperature dropped…and dropped. It was 0 degrees when we parked the car, I was wearing shorts and t-shirt and had brought suncream. Thankfully I also had a long sleeved top and a jacket which were immediately layered on.
Another out and back, and again mostly climbing on the way there and lovely downhills on the way back, the views once we reached the top of the treeline back down through the Squamish valley were incredible. The terrain was fairly easy for the first few kilometres, and we naively thought progress would remain fast for the whole hike. About 6km in we were met with a pretty large boulder field to negotiate. That, plus some steep, rocky, rooty trails meant for a pretty slow last slog up to our final destination.
Watersprite Lake is up in the alpine, and the perfectly clear turquoise water is surrounded by mountain peaks. We were lucky enough to have the lake to ourselves, which made for easy photograph taking and a lovely quiet spot to have a snack.
Progress was much quicker on the way back down, especially once we had reached the other side of the boulder fields, so we picked up the pace a bit and jogged back down to the car. We were desperate for lunch at this point, and thankfully Mags was open this time, so we wolfed down a massive Mexican lunch before heading back to Vancouver.
Some (possibly) interesting facts/more details for you…
- All of these hikes took us somewhere between 4 and 5 hours including photo stops/snack breaks
- We mostly hiked (fairly quickly) the ups, and ran the downs. A pace that Hollie likes to call hogging (hike/jogging)
- I can’t underestimate the importance of taking extra food/water/clothing on these adventures. I haven’t always done it, and I shouldn’t be so blasé about it. The Watersprite Lake hike this week was a stark reminder that the weather can be very different up in the mountains to down at sea level
- Yes, people do go to work in Vancouver (myself included), but a lot of people have fairly flexible schedules
- We were lucky to be able to do these hikes mid-week. Garibaldi on a sunny weekend is not really worth the hassle
- Having a car here is invaluable. I am incredibly lucky to have friends with cars, who will shuttle me around to these places. A HUGE thank you to Hollie for being my personal taxi all summer (all year round really)