Ever since we went to Elfin Lakes for a day hike back in 2013. we knew we will return and stay longer. The plan was to hike more in the area; south part of Garibaldi National Park offers several interesting places to visit. But to get to lakes and camp site you need to hike 11km from a parking lot, gain almost 500m of elevation (lakes are on about 1460m above the sea level) and you need to carry everything: tent, sleeping bags, food, water for at least a day and all other small or big things you might need. Water could be obtained from one of the lakes restricted only for that purpose: no swimming or washing in it, but it is smart to treat that water anyway before drinking.
I don’t have to say that scenery is amazing.
This is probably the closest to what you might see outside of Canadian Rockies that has the same impact on mountain hiker and nature lover. When we came to the point where I took that photo, I forgot pain in tired legs, high temperature and heavy load on my back. We stopped there for a short break and to enjoy the scenery. Just couldn’t wait for the next day and our hike further in the park. So we hurried toward the lakes and camp site to set the tent, have a dinner and spend our first night there.
At first, the plan was to go to 11km distant Mamquam lake, but I’ve found that part of the trail is washed away and still not repaired. That was enough for us to change the plan and go to shorter but maybe even more rewarding place. Opal Cone.
Opal Cone is 1736m high remnant of a volcano that had its last eruption about 9,300 years ago. It is about 7km away from a Elfin Lakes camp site. We had an early morning breakfast and got ready for hike even before 7 a.m. Trail leads downhill for first 2-3km, toward Ring Creek some 300 meters lower. But universal rule of the mountain hiking says that as much as you go down you will have to climb that back 😛 Crossing the creek was kind of easy – more for San than for me – there is a narrow bridge where you need to balance while crossing and that was a part I didn’t like. Silty water is rushing just a couple of meters below distracting me enough to slow my crossing. I admit I have a bit of a height phobia, unlike San who crossed it in no time 😀 After that a trail is going mostly upwards all the way to the top of Opal Cone. In the morning that side of trail is in the shade of the nearby ridge and we appreciated that, even more when we were on a way back. Scorching hot day and no tree to hide. Anyway. There is only one section of a trail that is tricky to hike, very steep with volcanic rock that doesn’t provide solid footing. But what awaited us on top was worth it.
We’ve seen a couple of glacier lakes on a moraine on the right side of the mountain and decided to go and have lunch there. Maybe even to put our painful feet in the water. Which I didn’t, the water was icy cold but San, of course did. Ah, those Canadian girls, a “cold water” doesn’t seem to exist in their vocabulary 😛
Going back to camp was kind of harder than we expected: first 5 kilometers there is no shade at all, rocks and dust, occasional bush. This is where we drank the last drops of our water and I was sorry that I didn’t fill our water bag in a lake – something to remember for future hikes. We’ve found a small stream coming down from The Gargoyles – I got few sips but San didn’t like the slimy look on some algae in it (I took a sip of whisky when we came back to camp, just in case 😀 ). Once in a camp, we drank a lot of water and then went to swim in one of the lakes. Actually, San swam and I was brave enough to step in it to a knee level. I felt my legs thanking me for that 😀
The following night came with a surprise, a 6 hour wind storm caused by 100km distant forest fire. Next morning we felt the smoke in the air and upon returning home we’ve found that few forest fires literally exploded the previous day. At the moment, we still have the air quality warning in Vancouver with 6 fires 200km around the city and more than 190 in entire province. Mild winter and dry spring are now taking its toll…
Anyway, it was a rewarding weekend with a lot of scenery. Now we know that we will go back there again, there are at least two more hikes to do and we have the strong desire to do them. At the end of month we are going to a two weeks vacation on Vancouver Island and before that we plan to do few more hikes, to stay in tune and physical condition. Until then, you can enjoy photographs from my Elfin lakes album on Flickr, which will be updated accordingly. Enjoy 😀