My last post ended in a cliffhanger: thanks to the cancellation of the Red Bull 400, I had some free time in Whistler, British Columbia, as well as the desire to do something physically challenging. That desire was fulfilled… by doing the most difficult hike I’ve ever done. And with a great group of friends!
That’s me on the far left, next to Alberto, Juliana, Dan, and Tavi. We’re all Americans that came to Canada for the Red Bull 400 – Me, Tavi, and Alberto from Los Angeles, while Dan and Juliana came from Seattle. We met up after Tavi and I explored the ski jump, and went for a hike.
I had done some research – and gotten recommendations from the front desk staff at the hotel – and we picked the Wedgemount Lake Trail for our adventure. The trail app I was using marked the difficulty level as “moderate” – but we would soon learn that moderate is a staggering understatement.
Wedgemount Lake is a glacial lake high in the mountains northeast of Whistler, and this trail takes you to it. It’s supposed to be drop dead gorgeous up there, with a glacier nearby. The lake is roughly 3.3 miles from the trailhead, making the round-trip journey about 6.7 miles. That’s do-able!
The trail began with a bridge over Wedge Creek, a rushing body of water that starts at the lake. We could hear Wedge Creek the whole time we climbed, and could occasionally see bits and pieces of waterfalls that it cascaded over while we climbed.
The trail was narrow and rough, and it didn’t take long before it started ascending the mountain, and quickly! The path got very steep, and we found ourselves climbing up little ridges, stepping from rock to rock, and holding branches and tree trunks to brace ourselves as we figured out where to step next.
Plus, there were multiple rock slides that we had to cross, and they were super cool.
The views were spectacular, and we could only imagine what they would’ve been like without a thick curtain of smoke obscuring the horizon in all directions. But we didn’t need to look far to see nature in all it’s glory – we just had to look around. Rock formations and towering trees were everywhere, and even noticing them was hard, because the trail was so uneven and haphazard that we pretty much had to focus all our attention at our feet.
One of the reasons it was such a tough hike for me was that I was surrounded by very fit friends, and they are fast. I’m not complaining – I actually loved it. I had to push myself to keep up. We didn’t stop very often – most often it was to reapply bug repellent – and I’m certain if I had been by myself or with less fit people, I wouldn’t have hiked as far, and certainly not as quickly.
I wasn’t tracking our progress with GPS (thanks to international data fees that I didn’t want to incur on my phone), but we thought we were making really good progress, and that the lake would be coming up soon. But then Dan had a chat with a hiker on her way down, who told us we were over two kilometers away, and the last kilometer was the steepest section of the whole hike. We were at least two hours from the lake.
We didn’t start the hike until the afternoon, and we decided to not go any further, mostly because we didn’t want to risk the sun setting before we made it all the way down. Even though the trail is very well marked, it’d be very dangerous in low light.
While we hadn’t made it to the lake, we did make it to an unbelievably enormous rock slide. It covered acres of land. I had never seen anything like it.
We took one final group selfie before starting our way back down.
Based on our conversations with other hikers, we estimated that we had made it halfway to the lake, which meant it had taken us 90 minutes to go slightly more than a mile and a half. That’s how tough this hike was.
We hung out at the giant rock slide for about 20 minutes, and it took us slightly over an hour to get back to the trailhead. A 3.3 mile hike, completed in three hours.
And that was just one of two workouts I completed in Whistler! My next (and final) post about my time in Canada will include that other workout, as well as info on the food choices I made, and other fun photos from my travels.
Keep it up, David!
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