From fall into winter

Fall has arrived. I don’t know how I missed it. We’ve definitely had some fall weather, but the last week was a little reminder os summer, with temperatures into the twenties. Today was the end of that. The clouds had moved in, although the rain waited until later in the day. I suddenly noticed the trees were changing color and Tim Hortons has got fall specials on offer. Winter is getting closer, but there are so many hikes I haven’t done yet. Today I ticked one off the list: Iceberg Lake.

It was hard to find information about the trails, so we figured it would be hard to find our way. Some of the trails are fairly new and what I did find online suggested it was a bit of a mission. However, we had no problems whatsoever and found the signage excellent. The number one bus took us to Whistler’s Alpine neigborhood. From bus stop we walked all the way up Alpine Way to get to the trailhead of the Flank trail. It’s a shared trail between hikers and mountainbikers, but super wide and easy to follow. Straight away it started climbing, at times steeply, to about 1100m altitude.

The big dirt road that was deceivingly steep

The big dirt road that was deceivingly steep

There are several ways to head to Iceberg lake, but since I’d found the most information about the 19 Mile Creek trail, we decided to take that one. After 4km on the Flank trail we got to a bridge. Once crossed we saw a sign for the 19 Mile Creek trail on the left-hand side. It was really clearly marked, with distances to the various other trails and Iceberg lake, which from here was another 5km. Only the very start of the walk was a bit confusing, since the main dirt road had several intersections. This road went through the forest, with some beautiful, colorful trees. It wasn’t until we entered the 19 Mile Creek path that I really felt I was out in nature though.

Suddenly we were in this ancient-looking forest. The path was a lot smaller and just used by hikers. The ground felt soft like a cushion. Everywhere were bridges and logs to take you over muddy sections or streams. The trees were gigantic and covered in lichen. The ground was covered in moss and plants so green that it was like some Willy Wonka world. Again we went mostly up, but the path had some nice straight sections to catch our breath.

After a while we heard water running. I’m not sure if this was the actual 19 Mile Creek, but it was stunning. There were some huge boulders and logs in the creek that created amazing waterfalls. After a while the path got a lot steeper, zigzagging through the forest to climb up the steep hillside. It seemed to never end, but then instead of zigzagging back again, the trail went around the very steep slope. The forest slowly made room for an alpine meadow. We got our first glimpse of the impressive rock walls and the glacier hanging over them. What a beauty!

Here, the 19 Mile Creek trail met the South Skywalk trail and North Skywalk trail. Following the North Skywalk trail for another kilometer we made our way to Iceberg lake. The first part was nice and flat, through the meadows, but the end of the kilometer got very challenging as we had to walk over quite loose rocks up the hill. We were starting to wonder where this lake was, since there was no sign of it anywhere. There were plenty of waterfalls in sight though and in between the waterfalls turned out to be a plateau. This is where we found the turquoise Iceberg lake. At this time of the year there are no icebergs, but it’s the complete surroundings that impressed us. The glacier higher up. The waterfalls. The stunning views towards Blackcomb and Wedge mountains.

Coming out of the forest into the open fields was a bit chilly, like we’d come from fall in the forest into winter in the alpine. I immediately layered up, mostly because of the wind chill. We’d reached the lake in just under three hours, so it was the perfect time for lunch. After exploring the area for a little while, we decided to take the same route back. From here you can easily extend your hike by taking the Skywalk North or Skywalk South trail, but we had had enough of walking uphill. Besides, the clouds were getting darker and rain was in the forecast. The walk down seemed pretty long and was tiring on the knees and ankles. After 6 hours of walking, we were back on the bus home. The walk wasn’t nearly as tough as I’d expected and it was super scenic. I love that it is so easy to reach and that it isn’t that popular yet. On our way back we only saw three other groups of hikers. Whistler has so many gorgeous trails. You just need to know where to find them.

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