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Thursday, September 16, 2021
Tantalus View Lookout - High Trail & Cheakamus Loop Trail, November 2020
Another fine November day, another reason to milk the last of the hiking season before the lifts start spinning and my priorities inevitably change. Never been to Brohm Lake before and always wondered what all the fuss was about, with the always-full parking lot and such. Yes, it is a fine place to burn a summer afternoon, relaxing on the lakeside slabs and enjoying a refreshing dip, but there's more to it than meets the eye! Set amongst a beautiful forest, the park has several trails that circle the lake and climb up to viewpoints overlooking the Cheakamus River with outstanding panoramas of the Tantalus Range. From the main parking lot, I did a counter clockwise loop around the lake and took the longer, more scenic route following High Trail and Cheakamus Loop Trail before returning back via the wooden bridge at south end of the lake. With a lovely lake, lush forest, stunning mountain and river valley views, this is a great little outing perfect for the Fall and Winter seasons!
Croker Lookout & Little Horn - Dilly Dally Trail, November 2020
Damn, a couple months shy of a year in the backlog here! Wait a bit longer and I could just pretend the posts are current. Anyhoo...
Went for this on a damp and dark November day because well, the mountains were calling, and the objective seemed fitting for the time of year and conditions. The allure of this hike is Croker Lookout which amounts to a neat view framed by trees of Indian Arm with Croker Island lying there in the middle. Nearby Little Horn Mountain provides a named summit to satisfy the peakbagger in us, although there's not much of a view from its treed summit other than a glimpse of the Vancouver skyline with a sliver of Burrard inlet as well as a peekaboo view of Buntzen Lake. I was familiar with the approach, having previously hiked the Diez Vistas and Swan Falls loop trails, both of which start from Buntzen Lake. Fun little area to explore, not far from home and just enough of an "out there" feel for both dog and human!
A classic among the North Shore scrambles, the Needles Traverse combines three mostly vegetated summits along the divide separating Lynn Creek and Seymour River. Typically done north-to-south starting from a trailhead far up Seymour Valley, the traverse is a bit of a rite of passage for local baggers. That said, it makes for a big day with a ~9 km bike ride along the Seymour Trailway followed by a steep trail up to just below Coliseum before even embarking on the traverse. Deep, bushy notches separate the three needles followed by steep brushy pitches ascending to and descending from their small rocky summits. For the full value experience, one can continue past South Needle up and over Lynn Peak and the lookout beyond to eventually end up on the gravel road linking the Conservation Reserve and Lynn Headwaters Park. A shorter alternative would be to simply take the Hydraulic Creek Trail after South Needle back down to the trailway. Either way, there's the problem of having to return via the trailway some 4 kms on foot at the very least to retrieve the bike stashed earlier in the day, followed by a 9 km ride back. Um...I'll pass, thanks.
Middle Needle is the highest of the three and all I was really interested in. More importantly, it avoids the above logistical headaches. So, 5 km along the Trailway, then up the Hydraulic Creek Trail to the crest trail coming from Lynn Peak, up'n over South Needle and finally up Middle Needle (and back). Easy peasy, right? Not exactly. The crux of the traverse happens to lie on South's steep north slope, which I would have had to both descend and climb back up upon return. It's a matter of a short cliff with some exposure that in dry summer conditions would go just fine. A fixed handline just out of reach to the left would have facilitated my return nicely as well. The problem was that said cliff was on the shaded aspect with slick, frosted rock and frozen duff and dirt. Getting good purchase was next to impossible. Shoulda brought a scramble rope, but I didn't, and wasn't in the mood for trying my luck. Had a nice long break on top of South instead soaking in the weak November sunshine and remarkably good views!
Slollicum Peak - Slollicum Peak Trail, November 2020
With great Fall weather continuing into November and the expectation that much of the early snow had melted off the lower peaks, we made a dash for Slollicum Peak. Here's yet another that I plucked from the popular local hiking guides boasting a good trail and outstanding views, particularly of Harrison Lake - SWBC's largest. Except for a couple trips to the Chehalis Range, I'd not yet been up on top of anything near this lake. A stroll along the beach at Harrison Hot Springs aside, my only glimpses to this point had been from Welch, Lady and Cheam some ~13 miles away to the southeast. A Harrison-area peak bag was clearly overdue! This is an enjoyable hike, following a relatively well-marked and frequently traveled trail interspersed with sections of forest road. It concludes with a pleasant stroll along an undulating tree-and-heather ridge leading to a small rocky summit.
Overlooking the east shore towards the southern end of Harrison Lake, Slollicum offers a commanding view of said lake as well as the various peaks and mountain ranges that flank it. To the north is the elusive Mount Breakenridge with the remote Mehatl and Stein area ranges beyond it, while Urquhart and The Old Settler rise prominently in the northeast. The Anderson River Group, Mount Outram and some other stuff out in Manning Park are visible to the east with Mount Baker and the Cheam Range dominating the southern view. Closer in, the Harrison and Fraser Rivers could be seen glistening in the golden Autumn sunshine as was Sumas Mountain sitting there in the middle of the Fraser Valley. Finally, looking west the giants north of Mission District, Mount Robie Reid and Judge Howay are easy to make out as are the Chehalis big boys Clark, Recourse and Grainger. Fantastic! With so much to feast the eyes on it was difficult to leave!
Late October now and I was looking to my "back yard" peaks for something in the 'hood to bag. Set course for Mount Elsay, the next peak after Seymour (and Runner). Alas a late start combined with verglass covered rock on shaded aspects made for slower than normal travel and ultimately conspired against me. Called it good at the final saddle where the routes for Elsay and Seymour diverge and just continued another ~5 mins up Seymour instead. If anyone's counting, this would now be my third time following previous ascents in January 2002 and October 2015. Fantastic views as always from up top, one of the best for the North Shore peaks and always a fun little hike for an otherwise "urban peak". Witnessed a rescue helicopter come to the aid of some teen sitting beside the trail just below the intervening Tim Jones Peak while I was up there. Asked if help was needed but couldn't quite make out what if any his injuries were, nor am I sure was he. Not that he seemed motivated to bother trying being that a helivac was on its way. God help us all. Anyway, made a short detour to catch the sunset from nearby Dog Mountain on my return to wrap up yet another fine Autumn day in the hillz!