We got to the trailhead a bit before noon – the main parking lot area was around half full.
The first 6km of the trail is very well maintained switchbacks in the forest – so even on hot days, you’ll be sheltered. The first 3km was completely snow-free and the snow became consistent enough around 4.5km for us to put our microspikes on.
After your 6km of switchbacks, the trail levels off a bit – there’s a pretty lookout where you can see the Barrier. Unfortunately when we visited, there was a couple smoking, so we quickly took a couple pictures and then got back en route to Garibaldi Lake.
We quickly hit the first Lesser Garibaldi Lake which was clearly melting with a pretty pale turquoise ring around the lake. The trail around the lake is pretty exposed and the snow was soft and slippery. Continuing onto the main lake, we had to cross a couple potentially sketchy snow bridges – I think one of them had an actual bridge under it? The normal summer route/bridge across the outlet of Garibaldi Lake was non-existent, instead, the packed trail went directly across the outlet. The rest of the trail to the camping area continued on the melting ice/water. I tried to cut a line higher up along the actual banks but ended up post-holing up to my waist and getting a bit stuck.
The lake itself was still completely blanketed in snow. We checked out the cooking shelters and were pleasantly surprised to see how clean they were! There was still a bit of trash and an empty bottle of rum, but we managed to pack everything out in a small garbage bag. They’ve also installed some really nice composting toilets since I last visited!
After exploring the shelters, we laid out the z-lite and ate our lunch in the sun. While we were eating we were impressed/horrified to see several groups arrive wearing runners (like these, not these), jeans and very inadequate looking bags.
The way back down was nice and quick – we got to see a proposal! There were also a few groups that looked to be planning to stay the night. We picked up part of a broken trekking pole, a water bottle and lots of pieces of wrappers on our way back to the car. Overall it took us just over 6 hours – pretty decent for 18km, about half of which was on snow and including a 30 min break at the lake.