Friday, February 5, 2016

The Most Epic Hike We`ve Done: Black Tusk and Panorama Ridge

This blog is sponsored by VITCHELO Outdoor Gear

If you`re looking for the ultimate hiking adventure in the Whistler region this summer, have we ever got a recommendation for you.

Whistler is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts like myself, with lots of great trail options. In my opinion, one particular trail stands out far above the rest the Whistler and Garibaldi Park region; Black Tusk and Panorama Ridge.

Black Tusk and Panorama Ridge are two separate hiking trails that share 65% of the same trail, making it appealing to accomplish both hikes while in the region.

Depending on your fitness level, you can actually accomplish both trails in the same day, but most people don’t do so, and here’s why:

Black Tusk – Considered a difficult trail
Time: 11 hours roundtrip
Distance: 18 miles (29 kms)
Elevation Gain: 1740 meters

Panorama Ridge – Considered a difficult trail
Time: 11 hours roundtrip
Distance: 18.6 miles (30 kms)
Elevation Gain: 1520 meters

If your choose to conquer both trails in 1 day, you’re looking at around 25-28 miles (40-45 kms) roundtrip from the parking lot – the ultimate challenge for any outdoor hiking enthusiast.

Camping at Garibaldi Lake

Because of the length of the trail, most people opt to do the 5.6 mile (9 km) hike to Garibaldi Lake and camp overnight before continuing on with the trail. Garibaldi Lake is around the halfway point, and offers stunning views of a glacier fed lake surrounded by snow-capped mountains. Be warned that during the summer months Garibaldi Lake can get quite busy, so you will want to arrive early to set up camp before you miss out.

Learn more about camping at Garibaldi Lake here.

About the trails

The trail leading up to Black Tusk and Panorama Ridge offers various terrain and some spectacular views. Starting from the parking lot, the first part of the trail winds uphill on a well-maintained intermediate trail. Once you reach Taylor Meadows, it’s a short walk through the meadows before you reach the Black Tusk and Panorama Ridge trailheads. During the late summer months, Taylor Meadows is bursting with beautiful wildflowers, making for a gorgeous walk along an easy trail. Once you reach the trailhead for Black Tusk and Panorama Ridge, the trail splits and you either go right or left.

Black Tusk offers a challenging scramble up loose shale rocks, before reaching the base of the tusk.

Panorama Ridge offers a bit more of a meadow hike, passing along mini waterfalls and fresh water streams along the side of the trail, before your uphill scramble to the top of the ridge.

Which trail is better?

This is a question I get asked quite frequently, and it’s a hard one to answer. Both trails offer something unique and different, both with stunning views of the Garibaldi Park region. If I had to choose, I would say both.

Last summer we trekked up to Garibaldi Lake on a Friday afternoon, camped overnight, and then hit the trail Saturday morning for our hike up Black Tusk. We camped at the lake again overnight, and enjoyed some much needed rest time before hitting the trail again the following morning. On Sunday, we hiked up Panorama Ridge, spent the early afternoon at the top enjoying the views, and then made our way back to the lake to pack up camp and head back to our car. This is a very common schedule for many people attempting to hike Black Tusk and Panorama Ridge during a weekend stay. Giving the popularity of this trail, the campsites can fill up quick, so make sure to arrive at camp early so you can get a campsite.

Important things to pack

Aside from the usual camping gear, there are a few other things you should bring with you. Bug spray is high on the list of recommended items to bring with you as mosquitoes and other bugs are bad on this trail.

Bear spray is another important item to pack for your hiking/camping trip. The Garibaldi Park region has a high concentration of black bears in this area, so it is recommended that you bring bear spray with you. 

Another important item to bring on the trail with you is a flashlight or headlamp. There is of course no lights on the trail. If you plan on doing just a day trip, remember that the trail takes about 11 hours to complete round trip, bringing you down into the mountain as the sun is beginning to set. The Garibaldi Lake trail can get quite dark in the early afternoon as the sun wrapped behind the mountain and the large canopy of trees block the last bit of sunlight.

If you’re looking for a bright headlamp for your hiking adventures, we recommend trying Vitchelo’s V800 Plus LED Headlamp. It’s a nice bright headlamp that works well on the dark trails. Learn more about Vitchelo's products here.

For the more advance hikers, Mt Price is just off to the right of Garibaldi Lake, offering similar views and stats as Panorama Ridge, but with less people. If you`re a real go-getting, you can do all 3 peaks in one weekend.

You may also like:

Our Biggest Mistake While Hiking Mt St Helens  
Hiking Mt Solmar in Cabo San Lucas
Road Trip to Pemberton: Joffre Lakes  

Friday, January 29, 2016

Our Biggest Mistake While Hiking Mt St Helens

This blog is sponsored by VITCHELO Outdoor Gear

If you’ve been following along with our blog, you’ll know how much we not only love random adventures and hiking, but I also have a huge love for Mt St Helens.

Mt St Helens holds a special place in my heart. It’s not only a fascinating mountain due to its historic and unusual eruption in 1980, but it’s also a place where we learned some valuable survival skills … the hard way.

I personally like being over-prepared for things, especially when it comes to being in the outdoors, when we’re hours away from help.

While prepping for our Mt St Helens hike, I went through the suggested packing list given to us by the Mt St Helens park rangers. We made sure to pack everything we needed for this 8 hour difficult hike.

Why do you need a flashlight for a day hike?

Hiking day - We were in the parking lot at 8 am getting ready for our epic day hike up a dormant volcano. At last minute, I decided my backpack was too heavy for the hike, so I started pulling things out of my bag.

My thought process that morning was, “why do I need a flashlight for a day hike?” So I pulled my flashlight out of my backpack, and so did my hiking buddy. This helped lighted our backpack a bit, and we began our hike.

Little did we know, we started the hike too late, and took too long making our way to the top of the crater. We ended up losing sunlight about an hour into our descent down the mountain.

What a scary experience this was, hiking down a difficult trail in the dark!

It never occurred to me that we would need to have a flashlight with us during a day hike in case we took too long on the trail and started losing sunlight. The sun was suppose to set around 8 pm that night, but the trail we were following wrapped around the backside of the mountain, and we begain losing sunlight around 5 pm that night, which left us in the dark for most of our descent.

At one point during our descent, it hit me that we might need to sleep on the mountain overnight, as we were having such a hard time following the trail in the dark. This was such a scary through; we didn’t prepare any overnight survival stuff, as we figured we would make it back to our car before nightfall.

Thankfully, there was another family up the mountain that was just as ill-prepared as we were. They were at the top of the crater with no water left, but had flashlights. We had extra water, but no flashlights. We opted to become best friends and hike down the mountain together.

With 7 people and 2 very faint flashlights, we made it down the mountain just before midnight. It was a slow trek down the mountain because we couldn’t see where we were walking for most of our descent. Thankfully no one fell and seriously injured themselves while descending through the boulder field.

My biggest hiking lesson from that day: I’ll never set out on a day hike without a flashlight and overnight survival gear again. You really never know when you’re going to need it.


Suggested hiking gear:

An LED Headlamp is really the way to go. I’ve now done several hikes in the dark, and you need a bright headlamp in order to help you see where you are going. A VITCHELO headlamp will allow you to walk along the trail without having to carry a flashlight in your hand, especially if you’re descending over logs, crossing creeks or boulders.

Smart people are choosing VITCHELO products, and for good reason. Learn more about their products here.

Happy Hiking and stay safe!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Hiking Mt Solmar in Cabo San Lucas

Even in Mexico we go hiking!

We`ve just recently come back from a beautiful week long vacation in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. This seems to be our favourite spot to vacation during the winter months. I guess you could say we`re mini snowbirds in training.

We`ve been to Cabo several times now, and as much as we were excited to head back to our favourite vacation spot, this time around we were looking for something different to do while in Cabo. We`ve done a lot of the tourist stuff before, like the boat ride to the arch, snorkeling, jet skiing, the markets and the booze cruise. This time around, we were looking for something new, something different.

We spent a bit of time on Trip Advisor before we left for vacation, looking for suggestions on different things to check out in Cabo.

I was thrilled to learn of a hike right in the Cabo marina area!

My husband and I are really big into hiking, but the idea of hiking in Mexico was a little scary for me.

If you’ve been to Cabo before, and you’re been to the marina area, it’s the tallest mountain peak in the marina area.

Hiking Mt Solmar

The hiking trail for Mt Solmar is located on private property, so you do need permission to access the trail, as the trailhead is blocked by a gate that leads to someone’s home.

The first day we attempted our hike, we left our hotel room at 5 am hoping to do a sunrise hike before it got too hot out. We found the trailhead across the street from the Navy Base in the marina, but the gate was closed. We couldn’t find another way in, so we headed back to our hotel room.

I read up on this hike a bit more, and it said if the owners are home, they’re more than happy to let you onto their property to do the hike. I guess we were there too early.

I also read online that if you walk past the house where the trailhead is, and follow the roadway to the beach, you should be able to scramble up the mountain side through a hole in the fence. But the info online warns to watch out for cactuses, and that you are technically trespassing by entering the trail this way.

This hike was something we really wanted to do, so we woke up early the following morning and proceeded to make our way to the beach area. Our plan was to hopefully find the hole in the fence and make our way up the mountain.

Luck for us, as we were passing the house where the trailhead was, there happened to be someone outside. We flagged them down and asked if we could go up the trail. The guy was very nice, said yes, and opened the gate for us. It turns out this place is a dog training kennel and the gate is there to keep the dogs in. The people were very nice, and apparently they always let people up the trail.

WARNING - watch out for dog poop. 

We finally made it to the trailhead and proceeded with our hike. There was dog poop all over the trail for the first 10 minutes of our hike. Not something I’d want to be smelling during the summer heat, so thankfully it was still early and quite chilly out.

After the first few minutes, the trail flattens out to a clearing, allowing for a small glimpse into the marina below. For here it’s all up hill.

It took us about 45 minutes to reach the top of the mountain. There wasn’t really a clearly marked trail, just several mini trails, all leading in different directions. We opted to follow several of the mini trails that seemed to have the most direct route up, and eventually found our way to the top.

The views from the top were incredible. You get a full 360 degree view of Cabo and the marina below. From the top, you’re also able to look down on the backside of Lovers Beach and Divorce Beach.

We sat up top for a good half hour, taking in the view around us, before making our decent down the mountain. The way down was actually quite slippery. There’s a lot of loose sand and rocks on the trail, making it a bit challenging going down the mountain.

I also read online that you can follow the trail over the other side of the mountain and hike down towards Lovers Beach, then water taxi it back to shore. Since we started our hike quite early in the morning, we weren’t sure if there would be any boats over at Lover’s Beach yet, so we opted to go back the way we came.

In totally the hike took us 2 hours, with an amazing rest at the top of the mountains.

The interesting thing about this hike is, the locals don`t seem to know about it. Since we`ve been to Cabo a few times now, we seem to run into the same people at a few of the local pubs we visit. When we mentioned we were going to hike Mt Solmar, we were surprised by the locals reactions; “Where’s that,” “you can hike that?” I guess if it’s not a boat cruise, time share presentation, or jet ski rental, they don’t know about it.

I would highly recommend doing this hike the next time you’re in Cabo. It’s a short hike to the top, with beautiful views of Cabo and the marina below.

Have you hiked Mt Solmar before? Leave a comment below and share your hiking experience with us.

You may also like: 

Geting Scammed in Thailand
What Social Media Has Taught Me About Road Tripping
8 Road Trip Mistakes to Avoid
Sink or Swim: Road Trip Survival Tips

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

January Giveaway: Win Free Tickets from On Location Tours

The New Year is finally here, and this means a whole new calendar year to plan exciting road trips and travel vacations. To help you plan your upcoming road trip or vacation in the New York City or Boston area, we’re giving away 2 free tickets to any tour offered by On Location Tours.

About On Location Tours

For over 16 years, On Location Tours has been taking people on tours of their favorite TV shows and movie filming locations in the New York City and Boston area. On Location offers unique TV & Movie tours - When Harry Met Seinfeld Tour, Sex & the City Hotspots Tour, Gossip Girl Sites Tour, TCM Classic Film Tour, Sopranos Sites Tour, Holiday Lights & Movie Sites, Central Park TV & Movie Sites Walking Tour, Boston TV & Movie Sites Tour and the Boston Movie Mile.

Fun fact: The ultimate Beantown tour with On Locations Tour`s Boston TV & Movie Sites Bus Tour is more than your average Boston sightseeing expedition. This tour is led by local actors who share behind-the-scenes filming details and endless entertainment knowledge during the tour.

For more information on the tours offered by On Location Tours, click here.

Here`s how to enter to win:
-    Like, comment or share on this Facebook post (1 entry)
-    Retweet this tweet (1 entry)
-    Post the following tweet on Twitter (1 entry)

RT to enter to win 2 FREE tickets to any tour by @OnLocationTours from @RoadTripBlogger

The contest closes at 11:59pm PST on Friday, January 22nd, 2016 and we will draw one contest winner at random the following day. We will announce the winner via Facebook and Twitter on Saturday, January 23rd, 2016. 

Good luck!


Contest rules: anyone from around the world can enter this contest via Twitter or Facebook. The winner of this contest will receive 2 free tour tickets from On Location Tours. There is no expiry date on your winning tickets, so you can use them anytime you like. For questions about these tickets, please contact On Locations Tours here.

Road Trip Blogger is not responsible for the distribution of tickets, and will not be held liable if your tour tickets are lost or stolen.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Flashback To The 80’s With This Tourism Video

I was recently working on a guest blog post for a client of mine, and while doing some research on a road trip topic, I happened to stumble across an old tourism video from the 80’s. What a flashback.

As a frequent road tripper, I’ve travelled through Smithers, BC a few years back. It's interesting to see how the town looked almost 30 years ago.

Here’s the tourism video promoting Smithers, BC:

Not only am I a travel writer, but I’m also a marketer by trade, and as a marketer, I definitely enjoyed seeing an old school tourism video.

If you’re looking for another fun flashback, I also came across this video a while ago where news anchors explain “What is the internet.” My how things have changed.

If you have a link to another old school tourism video, I'd love to see it. Share the link in the comment section below.