Whistler Skywalk to Iceberg Lake
This was an exploratory hike for Nature Vancouver; maybe next year or following it will be a perfect long weekend backpacking trip. Last year with the Golden Agers we attempted to find our way to the Skywalk trail but had some confusion regarding directions. Maps, signage and directions are much improved now; where we tried to go last year turns out to be up the steep part of the Skywalk South from the Flank trail.
The first bit of exploring involved finding the rest of the group. I’d originally suggested the East Van meeting place but the day before suggested instead that we meet at Park Royal. Ron picked me up and we met Rosemary and Paul with their passengers there, but the others didn’t get the message and were waiting for us at Franklin and Penticton. Oh well, let’s just meet at the Husky station in Whistler. By the way, for a gas station you can get good snack and lunch things there for reasonably good prices (especially for Whistler).
The Skywalk North and Skywalk South form a large circle which is an overnight hike or a long day hike for fast hikers; the Nineteen Mile Creek trail goes straight up the middle to intersect the circle near Iceberg Lake, and that’s where we went. The lower slopes of Rainbow Mountain are a maze of hiking trails, mountain bike trails and old logging roads; RMOW, with groups including the Alpine Club of Canada, has been working to upgrade both the trails themselves and the directional signage. Some of it is a work in progress, but temporary signs at all junctions were helpful in finding our way. Mostly; a couple of flagged trails seemed a bit counter-intuitive but it was apparent that we were meant to follow them, probably to bypass muddy or wet bits.
The lower stretch of trail is a fairly gradual ascent through second growth cedar-hemlock forest and gradually into a large stand of yellow-cedar before a steeper climb into subalpine meadows, with good views back across the valley to Wedge Mountain and Whistler-Blackcomb.
Ian C was going to meet us with a friend coming from his place in Whistler and get a head start on us. With our meeting-up delays, we only caught up with them when we got to the meadows at the junction for the Skywalk South. We had our lunch there to prepare ourselves for the last push up to Iceberg Lake; Ian and Doug decided to try to see how far they’d get along the Skywalk South, Rick decided to hang out at the lunch spot, and the rest of us headed up to the lake.
The trail goes up an end moraine to Iceberg Lake, a small alpine tarn with a small remnant glacier on its shore and Rainbow Mountain lurking above. The Skywalk North trail branches off from here over a steep ridge and then works its way through meadows, forests and lakes via Screaming Cat Lake and back to Sixteen Mile Creek and the maze of trails. A hiker we met had come up that way and told us of a good campsite somewhere along the Skywalk North; we’ll probably look up that site in future since the campsite at the lake didn’t look very appealing (just a few cleared-out tent spots, no biffy or food storage, and windy).
One lonely mimulus hung on in the outwash below the lake. But the creek up to the lake was lined with lots of them in seed – it would be a great show in mid-summer.
The worst part of the day was that the ice cream place in Squamish didn’t have the pumpkin flavour ice cream in yet. So I have to go up and do at least one more hike up that way this fall.