Hiking and stand up paddle boarding are not activities that usually go together. Paddle boards are long, cumbersome and would be nearly impossible to manoeuvre through the trees during a hike unless you walked through a field. Not to mention the fact that less is more when it comes to weight.
This was the case for my friends and I until last weekend when we set off on our first stand up paddle board hiking adventure. Yes, it is a mouthful to say but the possibilities this new form of adventure open up are endless and exciting.
Here is the story on how we may have became the first people to stand up paddle board on Lake Garibaldi.
Stand Up Paddle Board Hiking to Lake Garibaldi – Why Not???
I love how the best adventures can transpire from no more than a passing conversation. My roommate is an avid stand up paddle board racer and when I saw his inflatable and backpackable (not even a word yet) stand up paddle board my mind immediately jumped to the nearby lakes around Vancouver.
“We should hike to Lake Garibaldi and paddle across it” I said.
With no hesitation at all Adam agreed and just like that our plan was born, a tentative date set and friends selected for the adventure.
I started researching stand up paddle boarding on Lake Garibaldi and found absolutely zilch. No relevant google results, no instagram pictures and no blog posts. Was this even possible to do?
What intrigued me even more though was the fact that we might be the FIRST people to ever hike stand up paddle boards in and paddle on the lake. That alone meant this journey had to happen.
The Team Of Misfits.
Richard Kelly – Official Photographer and group lead singer. Instagram and snapchat expert that will make you look good even when you have mud and salt dried to your forehead. First time stand up paddle boarder and has a fear of deep water – yep this was going to be fun.
Adam Cole – Stand up paddle boarding extraordinaire. Makes the rest of us look like complete amateurs. Our go to man on anything technique and style related as he oozes it. Has been known to paddle board 8 days a week and sleep in his board bag.
Matt “Billy” Stewart – The shin-boner and toughest man of our team. Has been known to walk days on end with multiple blisters while chewing nails for sustenance. If his stature was as big as his heart the movie BFG would be based on him. Unfortunately he is only 4’9, so he is our team mascot.
Dane Bergman – Self-proclaimed team captain (gotta love being the writer of this blog), this wannabe adventurer and gypsy loves getting in way over his head and out of his league. Surrounded with this group of legends he certainly did that. Couldn’t sing to save his life but tries none the less – sorry to anyone on the trail.
The Adventure Begins.
After a solid 45 minute sleep, I blame my excitement for not letting me relax, it was up at 5am with the car packed, bellies full and on the road by 6am.
At 7:30am we rolled into the car park that would mark the start of our hike. Of course we were the only people stupid enough to be lugging stand up paddle boards to the lake and were welcomed with a few funny looks but mostly admiration as we explained what we were doing.
Ahead of us laid 9kms of uphill hiking with an approximate pack weight of 30kgs. This included the stand up paddle boards, pumps, food, water, camera equipment and clothing. Quite the burden on the body but surprisingly the bags from Red Paddle Co distributed the weight well and had quality, padded straps. The only thing missing was a sternum strap to stop the bounce.
The first few kilometers went smoothly and although sweating profusely from the morning fog, my Icebreaker Merino under layers were doing their job immensely and keeping the sweat off my skin. After 6kms the weight of the packs were certainly taking their toll but with the steepest section of the hike behind us we carried on, tired but in good spirits.
For those of you that have yet to experience it, the first time you lay your eyes on the turquoise water of Lake Garibaldi is a jaw-dropping experience. Once again the lake didn’t disappoint and we were greeted with a stunning back drop and crystal clear water. The excitement levels rising within each of us as we realised how amazing the paddling was going to be.
At this time early in the summer the snow caps flowed all the way to the water’s edge making for a slippery walk around to our launch point at the first camp spots. Once there we unloaded our gear and prepared the boards to paddle before having a quick bite to eat.
With shaky legs after a strenuous 9kms, we paddled to the middle of the lake and took in a perspective of the surrounds not one of us had witnessed before. Black tusk could be seen towering over the lake with Panorama Ridge off to the East. While to the South Mt Price and a blue glacier that reflected the lake water below.
With numb feet from the icy glacier water we congratulated each other and took a few moments to really appreciate just where we were and the natural beauty that surrounded us. All this made possible with a crazy idea and the invention of inflatable stand up paddle boards.
After two hours on the water it was back to the launch point to share a round of high 5’s and start the pack up – for only half the job was done. Now we had to haul the gear back down the mountain another 9kms.
I don’t know if it was the fact that we may just of became the first people to stand up paddle board on Lake Garibaldi but we all had an extra spring in out step and flew down the mountain. Even Billy, who was basically walking on stumps as a result of his blisters, was walking a little taller.
Just a few hours later it was time to celebrate with a few beers and fish and chips from the Howe Sound Brewery. What a day it was.
A huge thank must go out to Red Paddle Co for providing us with the amazing inflatable paddle boards that without, this adventure would not have been possible. To Dave at Blackfish Paddles for hooking us up with top of the line Nookta and Andaman adjustable carbon fibre paddles. As well as to Icebreaker for making the best merino wool apparel on the market and keeping me warm, functional and comfortable all at the same time. To the legends that came on this adventure – thank you for the laughs, memories and amazing photos from Richard.
There’s A First Time For Everything.
Were we the first people to stand up paddle board on Lake Garibaldi? From what we have been able to find out – Yes, I think so. At the least, we were surely the first to hike the paddle boards in and paddle it. Maybe a board has been flown in via float plane but I highly doubt it.
What’s for sure though, is until this united team of misfits sees photographic evidence to the contrary, they will be claiming they were the first to anyone that wants to hear it – and probably more that don’t.