My trip to BC had a few days in between visiting family over on Vancouver Island and road tripping the PNW so I immediately started to think of what else I could do with my time. Whistler was immediately on my radar as I already put aside time to chill in Vancouver. There was only one problem; my research mentioned the word BEAR more than once and at this point I was travelling solo. One of the hot springs I wanted to visit was actually closed indefinitely as there was a bear problem. I thought of all the possible scenarios that involved a Bear and me and none of them seemed promising. I knew I couldn’t do this alone so I called a friend. So grateful for the kinds of friends that will jump on a spontaneous trip at the drop of a hat, even when you mention you may use them as Bear bait. Or maybe I didn’t bother to mention that little nugget to Ric.
After Narrowing things down and with only two days on us I decided we were going to attempt two hikes, one to Garibaldi Lake and the other to Joffre Lakes. That’s actually laughable now that I’m even writing it down as I was clearly misguided. Basically we decided even before we set out on the first hike that we were cancelling Garibaldi for two main reasons. The first being that there were forest fires all over Northwest America, which resulted in everything looking Smokey (and I didn’t want to necessarily taint my first experience there by not being able to see the view we would hike to) and the second and more important is that I didn’t realize the hike to the viewpoint was actually many more hours than I had originally thought until we were basically in Whistler.
On the advice of the motel manager in Pemberton we picked up breakfast wraps and rushed up the mountain to try and beat the crowd he warned of. Now this is an important point. Food means everything to me, and the minute my tummy starts to feel empty there is a HANGRYNESS that starts to rage inside of me. It’s not a good look, seriously, and I try to take precautionary measures (like packing the breakfast wrap) so that no one has to endure my hunger. Why is all of this relevant, well I’m getting there, Hold your horses!
I already had high expectations of Joffre Lakes, regardless of the smog surrounding us, as every picture I had seen and every review I had read was about these beautiful picture perfect lakes, the kind I had never visited before, the kind you seem like you have to go to Canada to experience. Well all that is true, except how comes no one up to that point mentioned anything about the flies. I find they welcomed us from the very first footsteps we took to the first lake. And then our journey began uphill and so we climbed, so the flies circled us.
What took place for those next hour or so can only be described as a small form of torture. This is where I tie all my stories together. So we climbed for the first few minutes, backpacks full with water as prescribed by motel man and already my calves started to feel the pain of steep elevated stairs. Vancouvertrails.com boasted Joffre Lakes as relatively easy to access. Thoughts of Jerry Springer ran across my mind. Jermaine you said you never slept with Laquiesha but the lie detector says THAT WAS A LIE! The grading system being used to determine easiness level seems to be geared towards people that think rock climbing is a hike. Oh, no you don’t have to take out your ax pick and rope so this hike is RELATIVELY EASY. I’m going to make a new grading system for people like me who knows once it involves ongoing stairs and gradient it aint relatively easy no more. This is when it became abundantly clear to us that forget points one and two earlier mentioned, our feet would be too sore after this to do any more hikes full stop.
Well I must say the only thing worse at this point than the hike was the flies. Anytime I would think to stop and catch my breath there were these giant flies encroaching on me, pushing me up that mountain faster than I ever thought I could. Then of course I started getting hangry as somehow mr.motel forgot to tell us about the fly infestation problem. I took out my wrap as desperation set in and that was it. I had officially become Lord of the Flies. Where I went they went and the only relief came to the people around me who had a temporary fly lift. And make no mistake, everyone around was swatting away flies just like me. So I just couldn’t comprehend those Tripadvisor reviews. Dhearsch from Sydney described it as mind blowing, as good if not better than any lakes he saw in Jasper, Banff and Lake Louise. BUT WHAT ABOUT THE FLIES!?!? Meagan from Canada described it as incredible and hands down the best hike she has ever done. BUT WHAT ABOUT THE FLIES!?!? I felt like I was taking crazy pills or there must be a cover up happening. Why wouldn’t anyone speak up! Well I refuse to be silenced people, there are flies and they are in abundance. There. I said it!
My resolve was strong and my hunger acute so my survival skills kicked in. If I were to make it off this mountain alive I would have to elevate myself to an altitude that these flies could no longer fly. Or at least that was my thought process; there had to be a point where they no longer pestered us. And hallelujah it came all at once! Suddenly we rounded a bend to views of a gorgeous turquoise lake and the flies disappeared and the path moved slightly downhill. This was the oasis we had been praying for. Breakfast Wrap devoured on the banks of possibly the prettiest lake I have ever laid my eyes on and I wondered if all the previous reviewers were just so relieved and grateful for this moment that they completely forgot about the flies-hike. We took a little time to catch ourselves and then decided we would do the last half hour trek to the third lake and then come back to get our log shots.
The rest of the hike really wasn’t so bad, mostly uneventful other than a roaring waterfall between Lake 2 and Lake 3. If I had to choose I would say ultimately the second lake was a bit more astounding than the third but it could easily be a toss up. The lakes were breathtaking even given the fact that weather conditions were less than ideal and the Matier Glacier was barely even visible. The third lake was a bit more of a picnic spot as it had plenty of large rocks that people relaxed on. As we sat down we watched a family stick out their hands with small pieces of granola and the tiny birds in the area would swoop down and land on their hands and pick at the food. Not really a bird person and never really saw this before so I don’t know if it’s a Joffre Lakes thing or all of Canada is giving their birds the finger. Either way I had never done it, so we partook in what felt slightly moronic as no bird seemingly wanted to land on my hand. Then after a bit more relaxing we made our way back down to Lake Two.
There is so much backstory behind getting our log pics. Firstly you literally have to cue up in a line to take the pic since I guess this is the quintessential photo op from Joffre Lakes. That means when you finally get to go you have an audience of people looking at you! Most people just go a few feet out and take the picture, some go all the way and once in awhile someone drops in the water. I was determined to be one of those that went all the way WITHOUT being one of those that drops in the water. Then you have to decide if it’s better to do with shoes or without, as the log gets very slippery. All these thoughts and anxiety! Then there is my balancing, which is already not. What the pic wont tell you is that when you actually start to touch the ice cold water and walk against the wood grain everything starts to get that much harder! I swear for a good few minutes I was definitely going to drop in which wouldn’t be so bad if I didn’t have a fear of water I couldn’t see the depth of and a fear of dying from hypothermia. I swore this was it for me, even after I had already survived the flies! And then somehow Jesus took the wheel like only he could!
Ric decided he would give it a go and then we packed our bags and headed back downhill. Other than the descent being hard on our knees the hike was obviously now ‘relatively easy’ and as we swat away flies I dreamed of a day that would come when the world would be rid of pesky flies forever. And with the closing of the passenger door my final thought was to make sure not one fly gets in here with us!