My Mum and Dad’s 40th Wedding Anniversary :-) But it didn’t look like much of a hiking day in the morning. fortunately, by lunchtime the clouds had begun to lift and the sun was out. We had time to fit in a quick hike, and we quickly decided on Hollyburn Peak because it’s short and not too steep, and we hadn’t been up there in the summer together, only the winter.
I am always amazed at how different a place looks in one season compared with another. You could argue that the ski hills of Black Mountain, Strachan and Hollyburn are only nice to look at in the winter when covered in snow. In the summer, the ski runs are bare, defined by a lack of trees and a loose rock and gravel surface. Of course, the summer trails are usually distinct from the ski runs, so at least you don’t end up walking along them. However, on Hollyburn the ski runs have some cover of berry bushes, and so make for a much nicer hike visually than either Black Mtn or Strachan. Of course, in the autumn berry bushes = free food :-)
The parking lot at the cross-country area was mostly empty and we parked opposite the trail head. The winter snowshoe trail runs off to one side and was choked with bushes which made it unappealing in summer. We pulled on our boots and headed off up the Powerline cross country ski run. This is a blue run on account of the steep slope we were puffing our way up. What made it feel difficult was the loose surface with its numerous fist-sized rocks, just big enough to turn your ankle. But after a few minutes the trail levelled off and we wandered along a well-worn trail under the power lines. Some of the autumn colours were beginning to show.
Before long we reached the upper warming hut and turned left uphill along the Baden-Powell (BP) Trail. Here the trail veered off into the trees at the edge of the ski run, before zig-zagging back and forth a couple of times to gain some elevation. The trail passed by head-high berry bushes, no doubt an excellent feeding ground for the bears. The berries were starting to ripen but thankfully we didn’t run into any furry berry munchers.
The trail left the open ski runs behind and peeled off into the trees again. We could see where the winter trail made its way up the steep slope while we switch-backed gently uphill. We reached an open meadow with a couple of ponds before getting to the final steep clamber up to the summit. There were two ways up: the old route which involves a little scrambling fun up a small outcrop, and the new route which winds its way around the rock and up onto the summit plateau. We took the old route up and the new route down. On the summit, we were entertained by a handful of whisky jacks and a chipmunk looking for food, and watched a woodpecker have a go at a small fir tree. We recognized where the winter trail came onto the summit on the south side, between a little avenue of subalpine firs, but as with the lower slopes, the way was too bushy to hike. By comparison, the summer trail reaches the summit on the western side of the peak, having skirted around the steepest part of the ascent. After taking in the scenic views of the construction on Black Mountain for the 2010 Winter Olympics, we made our way over to the northern edge of the summit, past the little bench to gaze at the clouds covering most of the surrounding mountains. Mt Strachan was clear, but there were only occasional views of the lower slopes of Crown Mountain, and the Lions were nowhere to be seen. We sat a while with our legs dangling off a rock looking into the Capilano watershed.
Time to head home again. On our way back down we tried to work out where the winter snowshoe trail went, but we didn’t succeed. Before we knew it we were crossing ski runs again and had left that route behind. Perhaps we would have more luck after a little bit of snow :-) We took a photo of BP trail markers on the trees to compare with our winter ones, just to show how deep the snow gets. Once again, we ran into someone we knew: one of Maria’s Morris-dancing crowd who had the same idea as us to get out and make the most of the break in the clouds!
We were back at the car within 45 minutes of leaving the summit. A pleasant leg-stretcher.
Distance: about 7 km
Elevation gain: about 400 m