[simage=3050,200,n,left,]We escaped the crowds on the August long weekend by hiking into Mamquam Lake in the southern part of Garibaldi Provincial Park. Mamquam Lake is just 11 km beyond the super-popular Elfin Lakes campground and alpine hut, but the extra distance, and large washout of the trail across Ring Creek in 2005, mean it is less visited. We set out on Saturday in thick cloud, but with a promising weather forecast. We got to the trailhead early, to find it already packed with cars as there was some sort of “challenge day hike” happening. All the way to Elfin Lake we passed groups of cheerful middle to elderly Chinese hikers heading up to Elfin and Opal Cone for the day. We overtook them all the way and left almost all of them behind after lunch at Elfin, and saw fewer and fewer people as we headed onwards, aiming to get to Mamquam Lake and to bag one of the three tent pads.
We had done part of the trail in 2004 as a day hike from Elfin Lakes, but were surprised when the trail was so rough after dropping down to Ring Creek. Apparently, a large washout of the trail down the moraine in 2005 meant that a new footbridge and route along the east side of the river was required. This leads though a boulder field and there is not much a trail in places. After rejoining the old trail, the path heads up to the “barrens”, a plateau area with great views of the Bishop Glacier, Atwell Peak, Brohm Peak and Mount Garibaldi. We then dropped down another moraine towards Zigzag creek – this one is an easy crossing but requires boots off and paddling. It was icy cold. The final climb is up the other side of the Zig Zag creek before dropping down into Mamquam Lake. This last descent is quite tiring because the trail is rough and eroded in several places. At the end of a long day, it is a harder then you might think on the legs.
Mamquam Lake is in a fabulous setting with Pyramid Mountain, Mamquam Icefield, and Mirage Peak towering above the lake. It is a fabulous natural setting with pristine alpine meadows and wetlands around that you can easily explore. Paradise comes at price – millions of bugs here in August and we were very happy to have a variety of bug nets for protection.
There were about 5-6 other people at the lake on Saturday night and we had the whole lake to ourselves on Sunday. Fabulous. It’s a good thing that it’s quiet because a tree has fallen on the pit toilet and completely destroyed the outhouse. The toilet is fine and so you enjoy great views from the “the throne.” We returned the same way and had the pleasure of the stunning views that we missed on the way into the lake. So many wildflowers along the route, and nice to see Elfin Lakes in the sunshine for the first time. The descent to the parking lot was a chore, but hiking into Mamquam Lake is well worth it.