Picture Perfect Panorama Ridge

August 2, 2017

For the last several weeks… many parts of our beautiful country were smothered in a thick blanket of smoke and ash as forest fires devastated many beautiful forests across the province…

We were advised to stay indoors as much as possible and to definitely not participate in heavily physical outdoor activity.

However, Squamish 50 was coming up… it was summertime and I had days off… I couldn’t stay cooped up inside! So one day, my friend Melody and I decided to go on a hiking/trail running adventure through Garibaldi Park to Panorama Ridge. The hike is about a 30km out and back trip… and most people hike it in 2 days, stopping roughly halfway to camp at the beautiful Taylor Meadows. We however, planned to do it in one day. I was definitely familiar with those distances, but it would be the first time Melody did that type of distance!

We started the day early, wanted to get the majority of the uphill done earlier in the day to avoid some of the heat. The first few km were a solid grind up through a bit of a boring forest where the smell of smoke was thick in the air – trapped between the trees… great for the lungs as they laboriously sucked back smoke filled air on the heavy cardio uphill!

But then suddenly… we popped out into the most gorgeous meadow I’d ever seen… filled with beautiful wildflowers…  stunning mountain backdrops… running along wooden boardwalks over lush mossy flowered grounds and narrow footpaths alongside meandering streams… it was absolutely incredible… my heart was so happy!!!!

The meadow started opening up to beautiful mountain views… and we encountered the first of several lakes along the way… So gorgeous!!!

After 5ish km through the beautiful meadows, we came closer to Black Tusk and the beautiful milky blue lakes beside it… we wouldn’t be climbing the tusk today… but we started climbing again… heading up towards Panorama Ridge.

We crossed a snow bank… the most passable snow bank of the day… and I couldn’t resist tossing a couple snowballs. The trail got steeper again and rocky… colder too!! But still… a few yellow daisy like flowers and some small purple flowers grew and waved in the breeze between the rocks against a glacier backdrop… persistent and resilient little things.

We came to the top of a hill and thought that was were the trail ended… but no… looking up we could see the trail markings continuing on… past a steep and slippery snow bank that we couldn’t see a way around… and in the distance above the snow… Panorama Ridge with it’s beautiful 360 views and views of Garibaldi Lake (which we had yet to see). So we couldn’t stop now.

Gingerly I made my way up the first snowy hill… just hoping I wouldn’t slip and slide back down the hill to crash into sharp rocks! It was a little sketchy, but I dug each footstep in well and trudged up the hill… hands freezing and numb from “grabbing” the snow.

And then finally we were out of the snow… a couple hundred meters more of rocky climbing and then we were high above Garibaldi Lake. In the smoke we could hardly see it… just a hint of deep milky blue below us… The world looked like it just dropped away to the lake, which was probably pretty accurate, but with the poor visibility it was hard to tell if it was a drop off or just a steep embankment down to the lake… Gorgeous though! I can’t imagine how much more incredible the views would be on a clear day!!!!

The trail carried on further yet past that lookout… a beautiful ridge line trail through a bit of short green grass and moss on a treeless landscape above the snow now… It was absolutely stunning!!!! I felt like I was running in Iceland or something maybe (Iceland is a dream for someday for sure!!!)

And  at the top… we stopped to refuel and take in the smokey views over a little “lunch”. It was so gorgeous up there despite the flies buzzing around and harassing us! The cool wind blowing across the remaining slow… cooling us down… the silence and serenity at the top…

Eventually we had to go back down… the climb back down through the slippy snow was slightly terrifying because I had to look down the whole way down! (It’s so much easier when you just look up… and not down!!!)

But we made it safely and ended up jogging good portions of the way back down. We still took our time enjoying the meadows but once we got to the last 6km of treed switchbacks through the forest with no views.. I let loose and started running because the faster we got to the bottom, the faster we’d get to post run beers!! The best motivation right?!

At the bottom we stopped at Rumble Creek to soak our feet in the ice cold water, wash the sweat off a little, and just relax for a few minutes before heading out. The water temp was a little bit of a shocker… but after a minute or two (if you couldn’t handle keeping your feet in there for that long) everything kind of just got numb… but oh it felt so good!!!!

Finally… back to the car and off to Bridge Brewing… my favourite brewery ever! Mostly because the flights are delightful… and the tacos… the best ever post run fuel!!

I loved every minute of this day. Really loved it. And now it’s the end of October as I’m writing this and reminiscing… and I just can’t wait to get out there again! Unfortunately much of it is probably already hidden below a layer of snow… but maybe I’ll get out there on snowshoes? Or maybe running is still feasible? I need to figure it out and get out there again!

And for any of you who haven’t done this as a hike or a run… highly recommend!! Put it on your list for next summer!!!

Also in reflection… so many of my runs this summer were glorious, but they almost all were training runs and the goal was to do them as quickly as possible to train for upcoming races… so it was really wonderful to run/hike Panorama Ridge without a training focus… just purely for enjoyment! I do enjoy all training runs… but this one was special for just what it was… a hike/run with a friend to just be together in nature… it was wonderful!

See you soon Panorama Ridge!!!

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