destination: panorama ridge

I regret not writing about these adventures right after they happened. My memory is a little foggy; I can’t remember details or exactly how I felt during this lengthy trek. I do recall memorable things that happened and some mental notes I made along the way. I’ll share with you what I can dig up in my brain’s adventure folder.

This hike was longer (especially since we walked to the destination and back down in the same day). In total we hiked 30kms in one day. It wasn’t as challenging as Wedgemount because it wasn’t as steep and I wasn’t carrying my giant backpack with me (I was carrying a small one). I remember when we passed the 3km mark I was in disbelief; it felt like we’d been on the trail for hours and we only zigzagged for three kilometres. Making it to the destination didn’t even seem doable.

Again, I was hiking with my super fit friend and when she hikes, there are limited amounts of stops/breaks for water and catching our breath. She’s so intense. I learned during our previous hike that she was doing military training back home and concluded that this was why she was insanely fit. The most difficult thing for me as we ascended towards Panorama Ridge was convincing myself to keep pushing onwards when all I wanted to do was stop, catch my breath and chug some water. I had to keep up with my super-powered friend.

I lagged behind a bit but I had to force myself to keep going. After countless switchbacks that seemed to never end, we reached the meadows. I felt as if I were in a fairytale or Disney movie. I can’t even describe in words how beautiful alpine meadows look on a sunny day, populated with a rainbow of wildflowers. We hiked about halfway through the fairytale when we finally stopped for a break. We all collapsed on top of large rocks and consumed our lunches, all of us well-starved.

Our lunchtime was disturbed by mosquitos (or mozzies as the Aussies out west call them) and Whiskey Jack birds. I didn’t find the mosquitos too bad at this part of the hike but one of my other friends couldn’t stand them and inhaled her sandwich very quickly. I wasn’t too bothered until a Whiskey Jack lunged from a tree and smashed into my sandwich, which was in my mouth! I was too afraid to eat at this point, in the case another bird swooshed at my face and plucked an eyeball out. Too disturbed by these creatures, we carried on, finishing our meal as we walked. Black Tusk was in view, in the far distance to our left, but there was no sight of our destination yet.

There’s a section of the hike from the meadow to the beginning of the journey up the ridge that is foggy in my memory. I can recall a section of long grass and little “lakes” down below in the distance. From where we were, they looked like ponds.

At some point the terrain descended towards the ponds and in the distance we could see the ridge. But to get there involved a lengthy scramble on an incline for the remainder of the hike.

The last stretch – reaching Pano Ridge – began with a foresty area where TONS of mozzies swarmed around. I remember we were sweating at this point, which probably attracted more of the little buggers. It was SO bad; I remember feeling like I was going insane. I was constantly swatting the air and plugging my ears, but I also had to use my hands during times and I wished I had thought about bringing ear plugs.

After we cleared the little wooded area, the mozzies calmed down and the next stretch involved hiking up rock piles and navigating around them. It was quite intense but knowing it was the final challenge instilled a dose of extra adrenaline into my veins.

Once we accomplished the rock pile climb, it was then a scramble to get to the summit of the ridge. All of us had to climb on all fours, cautiously scrambling in a staggered formation so none of us would accidentally knock rocks or boulders down onto someone’s head. My thighs burned and burned and I kept looking down, focusing on where I was grabbing and stumbling.

We then reached snow and had to scramble up quite a steep ascent to reach our destination.

When I stood on top and gazed around… I felt so liberated and so free. The toughest hikes are always the most rewarding. I was in awe. My eyes couldn’t believe what they were seeing; nothing looked real. I LIVE here?! I actually live here. I felt so lucky, so blessed. This is what I live for. Climbing mountains, challenging myself and having these spectacular moments when you accomplish your adventure.

I stood still for a few minutes staring down at Garibaldi Lake. I watched the clouds make dark patterns over the blue water and I was in a state of euphoria.

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A pano from the top of Panorama Ridge

I don’t think I’ve ever had dinner with a view as magnificent as this. We sat on some rock ledges at the very top of the ridge and munched on more sandwiches and snacks. We had to refuel before beginning our descent, and choosing to eat at the top wasn’t a difficult decision.

I could’ve sat there longer, so much longer, but the others wanted to get moving.

We had two choices. Either go back down the way we came – trek down the snow and scramble down the rocks. OR we could do what we saw a few others doing: slide down a snowy part of the ridge on our butts.

… HECK YEAH we chose to butt-slide! Here’s a quick video of the end of our slide:

Sliding Vid

There was a sliding path already laid out ahead of us thanks to previous butt-sliders. All we had to do was make ourselves slide-able so that we could actually use our bodies as sleds. We saw some people with garbage bags. That would’ve been a smart idea but we didn’t even think of the possibility of sliding down the ridge.

I put on slushy pants I had in my pack and tucked my coat into the pants (no snow would ride up my back this way). The pants I wore had a “slippery” type of material, so I had a feeling I was going to go faster then anticipated. My backpack was secured to the front of me so I could fly smooth sailing down the mountain.

The only man in our group went first; of course we made him be the crash test dummy. At least, in my mind, this is how I remember it going down. But I also remember his girlfriend wanted him to stick with her because she was wearing shorts and the snow rode right up and gave her butt a nice freeze!

I was last. I remember catching up to everyone going down. At the halfway mark, I made my friend with the shorts move aside otherwise I’d collide into her. In the video I linked you to above, you can see how much quicker I slid down compared to my friend wearing shorts.

Let me tell you… this experience surpassed my expectations! Honestly, it felt like a wild, dangerous (and freezing cold) water slide.  I couldn’t see a thing; snow was splashing into my face causing me to shut or squint my eyes. My hands were numb as I flew down the mountain. The snow sneaked into my hiking boots and drenched my socks, thus also numbing my feet. The “slide” had hills and bumps on the way down and plenty of times I caught some air, igniting the adrenaline in me. Since I was curled into a ball (unless my legs were straight to use my feet as breaks), my body spun on the way down and I’d be backwards at times. So frighteningly fun. Do this next time you hike up to glacier areas of a mountain and don’t forget a garbage bag! Warning: for adrenaline junkies only. 😉

Our drenched clothing and numb limbs made the first quarter back very uncomfortable. That, plus my bladder was aching. I need to remind myself to buy one of those funnels for female hikers to use while standing before my next adventure.

It wasn’t until the meadows when I finally began feeling better physically. That didn’t last long, though, as the remainder of the hike took us on a lengthy descent. I wanted new knees. I wanted to collapse and take a nap. Unlike the Wedgemount hike, during this one I was able to keep up with the group on the way down. Conversations about almost everything kept me distracted until finally the parking lot was in sight. ALAS! Relief. We did it. I did it.

If I could hike 30kms in one day with barely any breaks, what ELSE could I hike? How much further am I able to push myself?

I’m still so curious as to what my physical limitations are. Sometimes I see photos of people climbing Everest and I wonder… could I do that one day?

 

 

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