A few weeks before my 28th birthday, Kim informed me that she had taken five days off from work to celebrate. She made the safe assumption that I wanted to hike somewhere and asked, “where to?” After some deliberation, I decided on Wedgemount Lake near Whistler, British Columbia as a destination.
Last summer, while we were living in Washington State, we road tripped to Canada and hiked Joffre Lakes – two turquoise lakes that sit below stunning glaciered peaks. Our minds were blown. During my research for that trip, I had discovered Wedgemount Lake and every photo I saw provided a promising glimpse of its majesty.
All of the trail descriptions and trip reports I read mentioned that Wedgemount Lake was difficult, despite a roundtrip distance of just nine miles. At five months pregnant, Kim showed her admirable toughness and agreed to go for it. We booked a flight to Vancouver, rented a car, and drove up the Sea to Sky Highway, one of the most scenic drives I have done.
On the first night, we camped at Cal-Cheek for $13 CAD. Cal-Cheek is a first come first served campground in the heavily wooded forest that is so indicative of the Pacific Northwest. After setting up camp, we caught the sunset at Brandywine Falls, a beautiful waterfall that plunges into a deep gorge. After a long day of travel, it felt great to stretch out and be in nature.
The next morning, we ate a delicious breakfast at Ingrid’s Village Cafe in Whistler, then drove to the Wedgemount Lake trailhead. There, we got our gear situated, put our backpacks on, and made our way up the trail. Our plan was to spend the night, so we came well-prepared. The forecast was for rain, but above timberline at 50° latitude in September means there is always a chance of snow.
The ascent was steep the whole way and the going was tough. The trail to Wedgemount Lake is narrow and littered with slippery boulders, branches, and fallen trees. There were a lot of groups headed down in a hurry to escape the incoming storm. The day before had been full of clear blue skies. Naturally, we found ourselves envious of their timing.
We exchanged pleasantries with the friendly Canucks and wondered why people in the U.S. never adopted “eh” in their speech. We were not the only foreigners on the trail, however. One British fellow mentioned to us that it was starting to snow at the lake. He seemed very concerned and I think he expected us to turn around.
When we arrived to Wedgemount Lake, the precipitation subsided. It was bitter cold and there were strong gusts of wind blowing giant billows of fog. As if to say, “welcome”, the fog cleared to reveal enormous peaks covered in snow and glaciers. No one else camped at the lake, so we got to stay in a hut built by the BC Mountaineering Club in 1970. We were grateful to be able to sleep sheltered from the elements.
If you get the opportunity to hike to Wedgemount Lake, I highly recommend staying the night. Undoubtedly, you will appreciate the extra time to soak it all in, take photos, and explore your surroundings. BC Parks makes it easy to register for a backcountry permit on their website.
To show Wedgemount Lake’s grandeur, I created the video below and made the music for it.
If you love backpacking in the Pacific Northwest, be sure to add Sahale Glacier Camp to your bucket list.