Yesterday was the first day of spring and the forecast was for sunshine! I decided to head for the North Shore mountains and do a trail that I try to do every winter: Mount Seymour summit in Mount Seymour Provincial Park.
Hike Name: Mount Seymour (2nd Peak)
Date: Monday March 20
Location: North Vancouver, BC
Approx. drive time: 60 minutes
Distance: 4.5 mi. / 7 km
Elevation gain: 1310 ft / 400 m
Max. elevation: 4660 ft / 1420 m
Time on trail: 3 hours
I had to be up early to take hubby to work so decided to head to the mountain for sunrise. Unfortunately the road up to Mount Seymour is closed at night through the winter months, reopening at 7 a.m. each morning. Traffic was really light getting through the city so I had a few minutes to wait before I could pass through the gates. The sun was rising just as I pulled into the upper parking lot at the ski resort, creating an awesome orange and pink glow in the eastern sky. No pictures could do it justice though!
I decided to wear my trail crampons instead of my snowshoes. There had been fresh snow a few days earlier, but I figured the Sunday hikers would likely have compacted the trail enough for me to manage just fine.
The first section of trail climbs steadily, tracking at the edge of the forest alongside a ski run. Eventually it splits from the ski run and has some ups and downs. In the summer that section of trail passes through areas of ponds and small streams.
After about half an hour of climbing I got my first view of the summit, and of the nearby mountains.
The sky continued to lighten, though it was a filtered light with a layer of high, thin clouds. I reached the next great viewpoint after another 15 minutes or so. This spot is adjacent to the top of the highest ski hill and offers great views east, south, and west. It’s a good destination for those who want views but don’t quite have the stamina to make it all the way to the summit.
The next section of trail drops and climbs over a couple ridges. You also enter into the true backcountry area of the park, accompanied with large warning signs for avalanche risk. Thankfully today’s risk was low and either way I wasn’t planning on venturing off trail into avalanche-prone terrain.
The last section of trail curves around to the northeast side of the First Peak. The trail climbs rather steeply into a bowl and then makes one last push to a ridge between peaks. It was incredibly windy up on the ridge, and even windier on top of First Peak! I snapped a couple quick pics and then dropped back down, continuing on towards Second Peak.
The trail to Second Peak drops to a saddle and then climbs steeply a couple hundred feet to the summit. Fewer hikers make the winter trek to the second peak, so the boot path was a bit more rugged, but certainly doable, with a few extra breaks to catch my breath.
It was possibly even windier on top of Second Peak, but the views to the north were worth my efforts.
I have never yet had the chance to make it to Third Peak, the true summit of Mount Seymour. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be my day for it yet. There was absolutely no boot path, and some significant cornices to navigate to reach the saddle between the peaks. I’ll just have to wait until the snow is gone and try for it again another day.
Instead, I enjoyed a well-deserved break out of the wind on the western side of Second Peak. This vantage point offered up yet another great view of the city below.
Up to this point I had only seen two other hikers and had enjoyed the summits to myself. Certainly an apt reward for getting up and on the trail early!
As I made my way back down the trail I ran into more and more hikers heading up. If the forecast was to be believed, it was likely to be our last sunny day for a while.
I made really good time on the way back, even enjoying a few short glissades on the steeper slopes. Instead of heading straight back to the car I decided to take a 1 km spur trail over to First Lake (they love numbers on this mountain…)