The Cheakamus-Rubble Creek traverse is a breathtaking backcountry route through Garibaldi Provincial Park, stretching from the Cheakamus Lake parking lot to the Rubble Creek parking lot. After meeting at a VOC trail running version of the traverse in 2015, Michael Stone and I took over the organizing duties and hosted the event in mid-September of 2016 and 2017.
This year, we checked the alpine forecast on the Tuesday before the run and realized that it was going to snow at the high point of the route. In 2016, howling wind and rain in the cinder flat section of the route plunged us deep into the realm of Type 2 fun. With this in mind, we waited a few days, then decided to make the risk-averse choice and modify our plans. Instead of doing the usual crossover, we decided that an out-and-back run to Taylor Meadows and Garibaldi Lake from the Rubble Creek Trailhead would be a safer and more enjoyable option in wet and cold conditions.
On the morning of the event, Michael and I picked up Mykal Bakker-Westeinde, Martin Lohmann, and Jan Prchal. We bonded over our anticipated suffering and a fair amount of oversharing. Despite the downpour, we were excited to spend some time in the trails.
At 9:00am, we met Lucas Fabbri, Chern Jie (CJ) Chang, Mathieu Goubier, Emil Aberg, and Aeneas Bernardi at the Rubble Creek trailhead. After a few minutes of preparation, we set off at a steady pace, feeling the burn creep into our muscles and the rain seep into our clothes.
After approximately 6 km, we had a snack break, then headed towards Taylor Meadows. The switchbacks transitioned to a meandering path, taking us out of the forest and into the meadows. The imminence of fall was apparent here, the meadows displaying an array of deep red and yellow foliage. Looking around, the surrounding peaks were obscured by mist and low clouds.
We continued to run to the furthest junction and took a quick break to check out our progress on the map. There were snowflakes intermingled with the raindrops, and snow was visible on the hills towards Helm Lake. The temperature was about 10 degrees colder than it had been at the Rubble Creek parking lot and it was definitely noticeable in our soggy clothes.
We got moving again, and after a few more minutes of running through the meadows, we plunged back into the forest, enjoying our first section of downhill after a long climb. Garibaldi Lake became visible between gaps in the moss draped trees, and finally we reached the water. We ran along the shoreline to the campsite then stopped for snacks and photos.
By this point, everyone was soaked through and getting cold. We followed the lower trail back to Taylor Meadows and then took off down the switchbacks to the parking lot. In total, the route was around 20 km (averaged between 3 GPS watches).
While it was disappointing to miss out on our Cheakamus-Rubble Creek traverse tradition, “Plan B” was definitely a success. Garibaldi Lake was stunning and it was awesome to meet some new VOC trail runner friends. Shoutout to everyone who braved the nasty weather and joined us – we’re so glad that we’re not the only ones who think that running up a giant hill in the rain is a good time.