Garibaldi Lake/Black Tusk
On 30 September 2002, I drove north from Vancouver, British Columbia to explore Garibaldi Provincial Park.  One of the most striking peaks in the park is the Black Tusk which is the remnant of an ancient volcano.  Prominently visible from Highway 99 between Squamish and Whistler, the Black Tusk is an attractive destination for both hikers and mountaineers.  While the normal route entails a climb of some 1740 metres from the Rubble Creek trailhead, there is supposedly a shorter, alternate access route via a BC Rail microwave tower located about two kilometres northwest of the Black Tusk.  Driving up to the tower would save over 1200 metres of elevation gain--very appealing for lazy hikers like myself!  However, finding the road to this tower would prove to be problematic for me, especially since I did not have a topographical map of the area.  All I had to rely on was a very cursory description from a guide book and a confusing map on a large sign near the intersection of Highway 99 and the Cheakamus Lake Road.  Considering the maze of forestry service roads criss-crossing the area, I was doomed to fail from the beginning.  After driving for about an hour up some of the worst logging roads I have ever encountered (none of them likely the correct one anyway), I figured that the short cut to the Black Tusk wasn't worth the punishment my car was taking and gave up looking for the access road to the microwave tower.  Instead, I breathed a sigh of relief upon hitting solid pavement again and promptly headed for the Rubble Creek trailhead to pay my dues in the form of a three-hour backpack up to the Garibaldi Lake Campground.

There was quite a bit of snow in the campground, but I managed to clear a spot for my tent using a shovel and a broom which I found in one of the cooking shelters there.  The sun set shortly after I finished my supper at about 7:00 PM, and I was looking forward to catching up on some reading in the tent that night.  However, my headlamp died after only about fifteen minutes.  I had forgotten to replace the batteries from a previous trip, and I had no spares.  All I could do was drift in and out of sleep for the next twelve hours which was not necessarily a bad thing.
Mama Bear
Mama Bear doesn't look too pleased to have her lunch interrupted.  She and her two cubs were foraging for food in a man-made clearing alongside a forestry service road not far from the main highway.
Bears on the move!
One of the cubs begins to run.
This is the view of Garibaldi Lake from the campground.
In the wee hours of the morning of 1 October 2002, an uncomfortable chill crept through my down sleeping bag.  The sky was clear, and temperatures were probably below the freezing mark as evidenced by the numerous frozen puddles near my tent.  When I eventually crawled outside, the sun was already climbing high into the sky and was warming up the whole area nicely.  After a quick breakfast, I set out to scramble up the Black Tusk.  En route, I passed a large group of students from Prince of Wales Secondary School in Vancouver.  They were on a six-day backpack trip through the area and were also heading for the Black Tusk on this day.  While snow covered much of the trail up to the Black Tusk, I encountered no difficulties until I reached the chimney leading to the upper part of the mountain.  The chimney was steeper than I had expected, and snow clinging to the rocks made the holds slippery.  Considering the amount of exposure, the remoteness of this peak and the fact that I was alone, more than once I felt some apprehension about continuing up.  Nevertheless, I kept climbing and eventually stood on the 3615-metre south summit from where I could see the students gathered at the base of the cliffs below me.  Thankfully, they were not continuing further which was a wise decision on the part of their chaperone.

The true summit of the Black Tusk is actually on a separate pinnacle to the north and is about one metre higher.  Unfortunately (or fortunately), it is a technical climb which puts it beyond the realm of scramblers like myself.  Besides, I had enough to worry about with the descent of the chimney which turned out to be not as bad as I had anticipated.  By downclimbing slowly and cautiously, I managed to get down without a scrape.  The return to the campground was uneventful except that the melting snow made parts of the trail muddy and slippery.  Total round trip time to the Black Tusk from the Garibaldi Lake Campgound was about five hours.
More great scenery.  Yawn.
This is the view of Mount Garibaldi and Garibaldi Lake from the trail to the Black Tusk.
It's only a model.  Shhhh!!!
The Black Tusk finally comes into full view at the end of the official trail.  Click here for the route to the top.
Looking down the slope.
Despite the already spectacular views of Mount Garibaldi and Garibaldi Lake, Sonny focuses on the objective at hand.
Looking up the slope.
Sonny looks up with both anticipation and dread.
Much steeper than it looks!
The Chimney
Finally made it to the top...DOH!
Raising his hands in resignation, Sonny is denied from reaching the true summit (behind him).
When I returned to the campground in the early afternoon, I immediately packed up all my gear and hoofed it back to the Rubble Creek parking lot in record time (1 hour 45 minutes).  I just didn't relish spending another dark and frosty evening inside my tent at the lake.  Instead, I ended up at an expensive but scenic campground in Porteau Cove Provincial Park.  A terribly long and restless night would ensue.