I hiked to Garibaldi Lake with my older brother, an 18km (11 miles) roundtrip hike by Whistler in Canada.
The trail started off with long switchbacks through the forest. We passed by waterfalls, streams, fallen logs.
Starting at the 4km mark, the trail was covered in snow. We followed the path worn by snowshoers. Unlike other hikers who used snowshoes, we braved onwards in sneakers, moving slowly and cautiously up packed snow and ice. With snow as high as about ten feet, the path often wound around the actual trail (which was nowhere to be seen, as it was completely covered by snow). We were careful to step where we thought the snow was packed. Sometimes the snowy trail would narrow to less than a foot wide before steeply dropping off, so we would grab nearby tree trunks, branches, anything to steady ourselves. It was difficult to gauge whether the snow was packed or soft, and I must have fell in at least a hundred times, my leg sinking into the snow so that the snow was waist-high. It was exhausting, pulling my legs out of the snow. I imagine my brother, who weighs a lot more than me, must have sunk into the snow more. Luckily, it was 80°F, and the warm sun and breeze dried me whenever I fell in.
We stopped for lunch at a beautiful snow-covered lake. The section of water that was visible was a teal blue. The color reminded me of Blanca Lake, another alpine lake I had hiked to. Our hiking group was quite a site: sitting on snow, eating fried chicken in shorts and sneakers, surrounded by snow. We realized this was not Garibaldi Lake, but Lesser Garibaldi Lake, and pressed onwards.
After way too much additional hiking, we arrived at Garibaldi Lake. It was completely snow-covered too, save for a section of partially submerged logs.
Some birds monitored us carefully from a few meters away. I fed them some blueberry muffin.
The way back was long and arduous. Snow had gotten into my shoes and soaked my socks shortly after reaching the snow line. With every step I took, the socks made a squish sound. When we got back to the car, I was so happy to change into dry socks and shoes, and eat a whole bag of sour cream and onion flavored chips.
I will always remember this special hike with my brother. “Hey, remember that time we hiked to Garibaldi Lake completely unprepared for the snow?”