You know those days where your plans just keep changing? Well, that was Friday for me. The original plan was to take one of my girl friends backpacking for her first time – camping at Chekamus lake, then ditching the gear and hiking over Helm Pass to Panorama Ridge and/or Garibaldi Lake on Saturday.
Somewhere around lunchtime on Friday I decided to check on the trail conditions, and low and behold, Helm Pass is supposedly still covered in snow, with the route “Not Marked.” Perhaps not the best plan…
So I call her up, and suggest that perhaps we can camp at Wedgemount Lake instead? Sure!
As I’m driving up to Whistler to meet her, I notice that the clouds are looking a bit ominous. So much for the beautiful sunny summer forecast. I begin to wonder if camping is a good idea. Getting rained on doesn’t really make for a great intro to backpacking. And in my mind, getting rained on doesn’t make for a great backpacking trip period. (Yeah, I’m a fair weather backpacker – when the weather is sh*tty I’d really rather come home to a hot shower and a comfy bed than spend the night in a tiny little tent)
Anyways, after a bit of re-organizing gear, we get ourselves to the trailhead. The clouds are looking even more ominous. I’m really beginning to wonder if backpacking is a good idea, but my friend is good to go. That’s when I remember that we need to purchase a backcountry permit for Garibaldi park.
We pull out our phones (three cheers for cell service at the trailhead!) and try to figure out how to buy our permits. After a few minutes of getting nowhere, I decide to check out the big signboard. BC Parks recently changed their system so that you have to reserve campsites at popular backcountry destinations. I discovered that when they changed the system to allow for that, they also changed the system so that you have to purchase backcountry permits by 1:00 pm. At that moment a few drops of rain begin to fall. Then it starts to pour.
Did I mention that I didn’t bring my gore-tex jacket? With zero rain in the forecast, I figured that I would save a bit of space and go with my wind shell and emergency poncho. Apparently that was a bad call.
So, Wedgemount Lake is out. Chekamus Lake is out (also part of Garibaldi Park. Callaghan area? Camping is free, we have the jeep so getting in isn’t an issue… but I have nothing to make a bear hang, since we’d planned on camping in areas with bear caches for our food.
So what to do?
Abort the camping trip, go for a run into Chekamus Lake, get dinner at the pub, and hike into Wedge in the morning 🙂
It was a good call, even if we did get teased a bit for being wusses (apparently the rain never made it to Whistler Village). I don’t think we were wusses. Coming home safely and enjoying the journey are always my top two objectives. And while we had (just) enough gear to survive the night and come home safely, I don’t think that it would have been a very enjoyable night. Actually, no matter how much gear I carry I still don’t like camping in wet, cold, windy conditions – and the more gear I carry, the less I enjoy the trip (yeah, I’m a weight weenie). So by
being wusses turning back, stayed warm and dry, had a great time, and actually made it to two destinations instead of just one!