Black Tusk

Continuing on the theme of hikes around Vancouver…

Early last autumn, 5 of us headed north of the city to do a hike called Black Tusk. We drove towards Whistler and headed into Garibaldi Provincial Park just south of Whistler itself (to see a map of where this is click here). We chose a stunning day for it, which was lucky as this was a 29km hike that we did in one day, including driving there and back. It’s rated on as difficult, with an elevation gain of 1740 m.

The first 5 – 6 km were uphill, however with all of us talking, they passed really quickly without it really being noticeable. Eventually we could see our destination – Black Tusk, aptly named due to its prominence on the sky line and colour. We passed through “typical” BC beautiful scenery, forests and meadows.

The ultimate goal for the day, although not even half way of the total distance covered.

The ultimate goal for the day, although not even half way of the total distance covered

Forest giving way to meadows.

Forest giving way to meadows.

We were also lucky to see some lovely autumn rust colours in the forests and meadows we passed through.

After a good few hours, we were approaching the tusk itself, and the going got tough. Sharp uphill onto the ridge just below the tusk, with shingle underfoot, so two steps forward and half a step back. But then there we were, in the shadow of the tusk. Only the two guys opted to actually climb to the peak, which involved scrambling on some fairly precarious looking drops. It is actually recommended to use some climbing equipment (ropes etc) as falling can be consequential – definitely serious injury, possibly worse – although a lot of the people who headed up there still opted to climb to the peak without equipment. I personally was quite satisfied with taking a seat at the base of the tusk, eating my lunch, having a rest and enjoying the view.  And the view was really worth it!

The view from the tusk

The view 2

After a well-deserved rest, we started to make our way back down. Going down the shingle slopes is almost as hard as climbing up, and one often feels as though your feet are going to slip away from under you, although they don’t. This next picture shows Black Tusk in the background. By this point we were already so far away that you can no longer see the people who were up there. So while it may appear that we were not so far from it, it was further than it seemed (as it always is when you are out hiking!).


Next destination on this mammoth day hike, Garibaldi Lake! So super stunning, gorgeous colour, but so very cold (glacier and snow fed lake). But one of our party, unsurprisingly, decided he had to hop in for a swim, much to the entertainment of the rest of us, who preferred to avoid hypothermia. Again, the views were stunning, although by the time we reached the lake in the mid-late afternoon, the sun was already dipping behind some of the peaks, casting parts of the lake into shadow.

Garibaldi Lake

From here it was all downhill back to the car, approximately 9km if memory serves me correctly (which it doesn’t always!). The last 5 – 6 km, which were a return on the same path we came in on, had my engines running on low and my speed reflected this. Although I was bringing up the tail end of the group, everyone was feeling well-exercised after the day.

On the way home we stopped in Squamish as the Watershed restaurant, on the edge of Squamish River – again, great views! As I chose not to drink, I was the nominated driver to get us all home safely (cheers guys for all falling asleep in the car). This was an awesome hike, and I’d love to do it again, maybe even a bit later in the year to see more snow on the mountains, but you really do need a good level of fitness to be able to enjoy it.


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