Helm Creek and Panorama Ridge from Cheakamus Lake

Garibaldi Lake, Garibaldi Peak, and Tabletop Mountain from Panorama Ridge

Another September weekend with a great weather forecast, so we chose an easy, accessible backpacking trip to Garibaldi Provincial Park. When we first hiked into Garibaldi in September about 14 years ago, it was not too busy. Things have changed and Garibaldi Lake and Taylor Meadows campsites were fully booked. This spurred us to head into the park the slightly longer way from Cheakamus Lake up to Helm Creek campsite. From here we could head up to Panorama Ridge for the spectacular views. The hike up to Helm Creek was uneventful, apart from telling some girls  (trainee teachers no less) that they should not take their dog into the park and getting a rather rude response. The hike is straightforward and through really wonderful unlogged forest – the steep switchback section does not last too long, and recent trailbuilding mean the trail is an easy hike.

We arrived into the large, grassy Helm Creek campsite, pitched our tent and headed up towards Panorama Ridge through the Cinder Flats (old volcanic features). The views of the Black Tusk from this route are fabulous and just get better and better. We couldn’t remember how far it would be to Panorama Ridge, and in the end we decided to stop at the col above Cinder Flats because the evening was drawing in. We would tackle Panorama Ridge in the morning.

We had a good dinner (surprising to still have some black-flies and mosquitoes around) and got an early night. The temperature dropped close to freezing, but then warmed up in the night when it started raining heavily. Luckily, we woke to glorious clear skies and made an early start for Panorama Ridge. Absolutely spectacular views from the ridge! We then tramped down to Helm Creek, broke camp, and hightailed it down to the car. Gill’s tired legs on the switchback section meant she took a great flying forward tumble – she was OK. Time for a pint at Howe Sound Brewing.

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