Cirque or Cirque Lake: a glacier-carved bowl or amphitheater in the mountains.
To form, the glacier must be a combination of size, a certain slope and more unexpectedly, a certain angle away from the sun. In the northern hemisphere, this means the glacier must be on the northeast slope of the mountain, away from the suns rays and the prevailing winds. Thick snow, protected in this way, grows thicker into glacial ice, then a process of freeze-thaw called nivation, chews at the lower rocks, hollowing out a deep basin. Eventually a magnificently circular lake is formed with steep sloping sides all around.
Glossary of Hiking Terms Whistler Hiking Trails
Some Hiking Trails in Whistler...
Brandywine Meadows is a nice, moderately difficult hike in a massive flower filled valley high up in the Callaghan Valley. Located 40 minutes south of Whistler, this tough and sometimes muddy trail gains a huge 550 metres of elevation in just 3k (trailhead to valley). The trail runs parallel to Brandywine Creek, which is steeply flowing, very loud and quite beautiful at various vantage points. After two kilometres on the Brandywine Meadows trail, the elevation gain levels off and you catch several alpine mountain peaks through the trees. And finally reaching the meadows, the amazing valley stretches into the distance, ending at the formidable mountains. In that grey and white mass of mountain peaks in the distance you will see Brandywine Mountain. A visible and well worn trail skirts the right edge of the valley leading to the rocky slopes that lead you to Brandywine Mountain. The trail, of course, gives way to the mess of boulders and erratics that make the beautiful, flower filled meadows below look all the more serene.Black Tusk, down the valley to the wonderful campground that takes its name. From the Helm Creek Campground it descends further along the Helm Creek Trail, until it joins the Cheakamus River not far from where it leaves Cheakamus Lake. The location of Helm Creek Campground is pretty amazing for a variety of reasons. First it is just a great location. About halfway between Cheakamus Lake and Black Tusk it lays in some amazingly scenic areas. Beautiful, climbable mountains all around. Amazing fields of snow that run all the way to the base of Black Tusk well into July. Rivers, creeks and waterfalls everywhere you look from the idyllic campground. A large, grassy field ringed by trees and Helm Creek. What you always want from a campground is a convenient and clean water source and of course Helm Creek is both. Taylor Meadows is a beautiful campsite and alternative to the much busier Garibaldi Lake campsite. Located in between Garibaldi Lake and Black Tusk itself. It is reached from the same trailhead to Garibaldi Lake. There are 40 very nice tent platforms, toilets, a good water source and a food cache, all in the lush forest of Taylor Meadows with the distant view of Black Tusk. The hike is a relaxing 7.5k through a deep, big tree forest. The first half is a series of switchbacks and then the thick forest gives way to Taylor Meadows. The grassy meadows open up the view of snowy mountains and the spectacular Black Tusk just a couple kilometres away. Generally Taylor Meadows is not a destination, but part of a circle route. For example, trailhead to Taylor Meadows, Taylor Meadows to Black Tusk or Panorama Ridge, then return via Garibaldi Lake. This makes for a long hike at 30k, which is why tenting at this perfectly beautiful, and perfectly located Taylor Meadows Campsite, is a great idea. Trails run so abundant in Whistler that many go unnoticed, neglected or taken for granted. The Flank Trail is one of these. Most people in Whistler don't even know about it, but the ones that do, love it. Officially known as the Rainbow-Sproatt Flank Trail, it runs the length of Whistler Valley, opposite Whistler and Blackcomb mountains. Flanking both these enormous mountains, the Flank Trail is the inspiration for an ever-growing number of trails that run to it, from it, and across it. From the Callaghan Valley, far south of Whistler, near Whistler Olympic Park it begins(or ends). It then stretches 40 kilometres along the flank of the massive and sprawling Mount Sproatt, then Rainbow Mountain, where it finally terminates near Ancient Cedars and Showh Lakes. Whistler is packed with tremendously beautiful hiking trails. Whistler, as a resort community, is only decades old but the enormous number of hiking trails is staggering. The huge number of trails ensures that most remain sparsely hiked and incredibly diverse. You can find hikes with majestic waterfalls, enormous glaciers, heart pounding summits, impossibly blue lakes, and fantastic views. Lots of fantastic views. Two hikes listed below even have user maintained huts that are free to use by anyone. It is of course difficult to narrow a top 5 list down to only five hikes out of so many wonderful hikes. Black Tusk tops the list mainly for the its extraordinary view and its incredible geology. It is constantly amazing. From its crumbling sides to its alarmingly dangerous looking approach, you can't help but marvel at everything about this mountain. And standing on its summit, you stare down at everything. Recalling how impossibly steep the sides look from every angle, you can barely believe it when you reach the top. Another wonderful aspect of the Black Tusk is simply the hike itself. It is really three hikes in one as you can hike to Garibaldi Lake on the way and Taylor Meadows on the return journey. Both of these hikes are worthy destinations on their own, but combined with Black Tusk are incredible. The roundtrip hike, trailhead to trailhead for Black Tusk is 30k.