The Beautiful, Beastly Black Tusk

I would consider myself a morning person, but 5:20 a.m. is pushing it, even for me. I would only get up that early for one reason: to go on an adventure in the great outdoors. On July 7th, I set out with a group of 16 other VOCers to conquer the Black Tusk.

I was picked up at 6:00 a.m. by Tony and his green Jeep. We were to cross the bridge by 6:30 a.m., picking up Andreas on the way, and meeting the rest of the crew at the Tim Hortons in Squamish. The drive was especially beautiful, softly lit by the morning sun. By the time we got out of the car in Squamish, it was already too hot for the fleece I was wearing. It was forecasted to be a scorching 30 ˚C later in the day. After meeting up with most of the group (one car was running a bit late), we drove onto the Garibaldi lake parking lot. There, we packed up our bags and sunscreened up. The last car arrived shortly after.

We started hiking up the trail to Taylor meadows campground at around 9:30 a.m. The trail was wide and well developed, so we walked at a fast pace despite our heavy packs. Two people even brought skis with them, which seemed grueling at the time, but paid off later in the day. Just after the last trail junction, the dirt trail turned into snow. That was the last we would of dry ground for a while.

We made it to the campground by lunchtime, which was mostly snow covered, stopping at the cook-site for a nice long lunch break. We dumped all of our overnight gear in the hut and by 1:30 p.m. we continued on to the tusk.

We meandered through snowfields and then hiked up a steep slope up to a ridge. It was exhausting in the hot sun, but the views urged us on. The group spread out quite a bit over the course of climbing up the snowy slope. From the ridge, the tusk could be seen clearly, straight ahead. There was a small, cornicy depression to get down first however. It proved especially efficient, not to mention fun, to slide down the slope. A few energetic VOCers even climbed back up to lap the slide a few times.

We traversed over to another ridge and walked up it to the base of the tusk. And then came the tricky part. The scramble up to the summit was entirely do-able, but steep and very exposed in places. It made getting to the summit all the more satisfying. At the top, we took pictures and met a man who was planning on camping out on the tusk that night.

It was already dinnertime by the time we turned around. However, the reverse trip was extremely quick (especially for those on skis). We scree skied down the scree slopes at the top and boot skied down the snow slopes lower down, finally making it back to camp at 9:30 p.m. Others came back even later. It was the longest day of hiking I have ever had, a full 12 hours. A quick dinner was in order (I didn’t even cook my vegetables) and off to bed.

We all made it through the night, even Vince who had no sleeping bag. Indeed, it may have been a rougher night for some.

People were tired in the morning and, although the plan had been to hike up to another ridge that day (Panorama Ridge I believe), the group decided to make a detour to Garibaldi lake and head back to the parking lot instead. It was a short jaunt to the lake, but it was exceptionally beautiful. Scenery like you get on postcards. The lake was patched with ice. So of course, it called for a swim. Most of the group ended up swimming in the glacial water, some committing more than others. After a refreshing dunk, we undertook the walk back down the switchbacks to the cars.

On the way home, we made a stop at the Shady Tree in Squamish, basking in the awesomeness of our weekend adventure and the delicious aromas emanating from the food on our plates. Overall, it was an epic weekend with a bunch of interesting, friendly people.

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