Featuring lakes, mountains, glaciers and the ever present possibility of bears, Panorama Ridge is a quintessential Canadian hike. I can’t believe that I never did this hike while I lived there, but it sure made for a memorable trip on our return. To be fair, Andy actually did this hike back in 2020 as a day trip from Vancouver and the 32 kilometre in and out trail sounded way too intense for me! This time round, we booked 2 nights camping at Garibaldi Lake, giving us the luxury of taking our time and really enjoying ourselves.
We woke up in Vancouver and headed up the Sea to Sky highway. It will probably forever be my favourite stretch of road in the world; surrounded by mountains and oceans, it’s nothing short of majestic. We stopped in Squamish for lunch at the Sunflower Bakery, a nod to many past adventures. After filling up on quiche, the best cinnamon buns and Simpson’s themed donuts, we were on our way to the Rubble Creek trailhead. Despite being advised to get there before 8am, we rightly predicted that if we arrived after lunch, we would be able to nab the car parks of people that were heading out from the hike.
The first portion of the trail was nothing but switchbacks. Steadily uphill (with almost no relief), our progress was recorded by trail markers every kilometre. It was a hot day, but we were entirely surrounded by bush (specifically Western Red Cedar and Douglas Fir trees) and managed to stay mostly cool. There was no chance of getting lost, because it was well marked, well maintained and simply went back and forth, back and forth.
The highlight of the first day (for Andy certainly) was emerging at the viewpoint that overlooks a solid rock wall, known as ‘The Barrier’. Given his fascination with geographical history, I could see why he had hyped it up so much! We continued on to the Garibaldi Lake campsite; my legs were starting to feel like they were carrying a lot more than just me and my bag.
We found ourselves a campsite and slowly pitched our tent. I always laugh how the focus is always on ‘getting there’ but on arriving it actually takes so much set up and organising before I can actually let my poor feet rest! We took our dinner and chairs down to the lakefront, where we swam, ate, relaxed and watched the beautiful sunset.
As is always the case when camping, we awoke early and got started on breakfast to make the most of the morning, on what was predicted to be another very hot day. The 6.5km trail up to Panorama Ridge is incredibly beautiful, offering everything from wildflower meadows, lakes, tree canopies and expansive views. The last 500 metres or so is scrambling over rock, in the final effort to the top. The views we were rewarded with were next level, a sight photos could never do justice.
Of course we had a token annoying person at the top, someone who felt the need to FaceTime a million different people to show them the view, screeching about her age (50+) and good fitness, managing to find countless ways to mention ‘BeReal’ and ‘Taylor Swift tickets’ multiple times, like a #coolmum. We spent a decent period taking photos and enjoying our food, but the bugs were intense so we wasted no time in leaving. In typical fashion, we set a record pace heading down, making it back to the campsite in time for a swim and late lunch.
We were supposed to stay another night, but after relaxing for an hour or so by the lake, we decided that rather than do this for another 7 hours until it gets dark (which also sounded nice), we could reclaim the next morning in Vancouver if we packed up and left now. We put down our tent faster than I thought possible and set off – somehow the switchbacks felt even longer going down! It felt like forever until we finally made it back to the car! We still had plenty of daylight left, so we made our way to Backcountry Brewery for a pizza and beer (of course!) before heading back to Vancouver – tired, smelly but feeling very accomplished.