Panorama Ridge is located in British Columbia, about one hour drive from Vancouver, between Squamish and Whistler. It is one of the most significant and astonishing hikes in Garibaldi Provincial Park, providing amazing views of numerous lakes, peaks, blooming meadows and ancient forest vegetation. It’s needles to say that the views on the drive to the park alone are fabulous. I couldn’t hold myself from taking a lot of pictures in the car, without having any idea of what my eyes were about to see at the top of the mountain.
Panorama Ridge Peak stands tall at 2,133 m altitude, from where you can see The Black Tusk, Mt. Price, Mt. Garibaldi, The Table and the Garibaldi Lake at the bottom of them all. It is a 36 km way around and trust me, you’ll need a lot of resilience for completing it in one day. For those with energic spirit and determination, heading towards the top might seem pretty easy and just another hike day, but if you’re not a regular hiker(like me) the path could be a little heavy, to say the least. But lets start from the beginning.
I’ve recently started to enjoy mountain treks (surprisingly for me). I used to be one of those people who enjoyed more staying, let’s say, on the beach, chilling, or by the pool, instead of wandering the woods, crossing flooding rivers, getting scratched by plants, bit by mosquitos or risking to encounter a bear. Since I’m always trying to evolve, challenge myself and get over my fears and out of my comfort zone, I said okay, why not, let’s hike the Panorama Ridge!
My husband and I were thinking on doing the hike in the spring months, but it turned out to be rainy and muddy so we said we should wait for a better weather, so we found the perfect sunny hot day by the end of June. We arrived at the park around 10 a.m, the parking lot was already completely occupied (BC is renown for its hike lovers) , we got our water and food provisions, mosquito repellent, and off we were!
The first section of the hike is of 6 km of continued elevation; it felt pretty much difficult because of my heavy backpack- we got too much food and too much water (there were plenty of fresh water rivers along the way, but we didn’t know that. Once you do the 6 km you reach a crossing point towards Garibaldi Lake, about 2 km in continuation, or to get to Panorama Ridge Peak; the first choice was the one more frequented. We headed towards the Panorama Ridge, and from here the path was pretty flat, except from little elevations along the way. I was starting to think that my worries were in vain, and that it was going to be like that until the top, but um, no, they weren’t.
I must say that the views along the way were absolutely stunning…the park is very well preserved and it’s pretty much wild and natural habitat of flora and fauna; numerous rivers, the plants, the tall tress, the flowers, the sight of mountain peaks as we were getting to higher altitude, the lakes at the bottom, the waterfalls we were passing by, with a loud sound of water crushing and hitting the stones above…all that greenery ,colorful vegetation was screaming LIFE. It makes you feel really small, when you are there in the middle of the nature, the true force of our world. At any moment you can flip, you can fall, you can roll over, anything can happen to us because we are just a product of nature, nothing more…and we are at its mercy at any time, and there, in the wilderness, you get a stronger sense of our existence.
One of the biggest mistakes we did was to NOT have hiking shoes, because I thought…my running shoes will do just fine. WRONG…so wrong. Oh, and I also did not put sunscreen because I just didn’t fee; it was necessary. As I said, I was not too experienced in the hiking adventures, so I was about to slip and fall a few times, but for all that beauty I took all the pain. There were a lot of mosquitos, and were bothering even with the repellent, I don’t wanna know how it would’ve been without it. I got a lot of scratches as well, because you know, even though there were walking paths along the way, in the back country, all kind of plants grow anywhere they please. We stopped a few times by the running rivers to get fresh water, throwing the one we already had because it was warm already and I’m pretty sure the one in the river was cleaner and full of minerals. By the middle of the way there was a little retreat and campground, with places to sleep for the people who wanted to make it a 2 days hike (or even more). We met some tourists who gave us shady looks because of well, our shows and our optimism that regardless of what, we’re gonna make it to the top.
After about 4-5 hours oh trekking we arrived at the base of the mountains. Big was my surprise to find out that now, just now we’re about to actually hike the mountain. From here the elevations is approximately 900 m; I thought it was going to be quick because I could see the top, but no, it was not that quick. I could see the people at the peak; they were so small, like little ants, which was telling me that we have a long way to go. At this point we were already walking on snow, and to get up there it was mostly icy, which made things more difficult because of, as I said the shoes that were making us slide at every step. From here you could already see the peaks of other mountains around Garibaldi, and the view was already stunning. Myself, I was pretty much close to exhaustion while we began to escalade the snowy mountain; my skin was burned, my head was hurting from the sun, my feet completely wet and already had gotten some bruises. All I wanted was to get to the top, and call it a day.
Getting closer to the top we encountered rocks, parts of the soil where the ice was already melted; they were crumbling and unsteady, so again we had to calculate each step in advance. Since I was not an experienced hiker, I was feeling like I’ll never get up there, and that it’s taking forever. My husband was constantly encouraging and pushing me to keep going, but it was really difficult for me. One thing was for sure, I was not going to give up, no matter what.
Eventually, I made it! I climbed the last rock with all of my strength and resilience; I was drained of energy, but the view…oh…I could not even describe the feeling I had being up there. It just feels unreal…like you ARE in a movie, not seeing a movie. The white mountain peaks, the clouds over them, the intense-turquoise color of the lake Garibaldi Above, the mountains on a 360…it is something incredible, truly out of the ordinary. You see the huge trees on the mountains, all looking so so small…and you’re there, at the top of it all, after hours of physical endurance…that makes you think of all our potential, both bodily and mental toughness that can lead us to greater things and experiences, if we’re willing to. I felt proud of myself, I felt lucky and immensely grateful to see that in front of me…I felt blessed to be alive.
It was a long way back and we got to the parking lot by nightfall, after some minor problems like getting a little lost. The Garibaldi National Park is huge, you need to pay closer attention to the path you’re taking, like everything in life. Go out there and explore, anything, everything you can!