Andrew called around 9.30 am, the sound of desperation in his voice. “Got to get out somewhere and it’s fine today!” Or words to that effect. Maria was off Morris dancing in the afternoon, so Andrew and I planned to take on Mount Seymour. I picked him up just after midday and we were at the trailhead by 1 pm. At which point Andrew noticed he’d forgotten his camera, and I only had our old one.
Well, the day started out oh-so sunny, but we were socked in by the time we set off, so maybe the lack of a decent camera wouldn’t be such a problem after all. The recent mid-week snowfall tempted us into lugging our snowshoes on our backs but there was no snow as we set off. As with the last time, we were puzzled by the fact that most people were walking up the ski-run instead of the trail.
We made our way up the trail, passing a few other hikers along the way, and we were at Brockton Point within 40 minutes. The last report we’d read had mentioned that there was continuous snow cover beyond here, but most of it seemed to have melted over the last couple of days. We hit a few patches here and there, but it wasn’t until we reached the turnoff to Elsay Lake that the snow became continuous.
We reached the base of First Peak and I looked at the rocks and fancied a more direct route than the usual zig-zag approach. A series of short cliff faces and ledges, one involving a tree belay, took us straight to the summit. I’m not much of a scrambler, let alone a climber, since I don’t like heights, but sometimes you have to challenge yourself. There was no exposure and the route was straightforward, so it was just a little bit of fun.
First Peak has a neat new summit marker, and for once it was devoid of people. Well except Andrew and me of course. Mind you the cool wind might have had something to do with that. We stood to admire the scenery, which wasn’t much due to the misty conditions. A few patches of blue sky kept us hopeful that it might clear up, but it was too cold to hang around so we headed down, and made our way over to Second Peak.
The snow was continuous now but snowshoes still weren’t needed. On the flat it was easy going, though the icy crust had an annoying tendency to break just as I pushed off with my back foot. This had me a little concerned that punching through the saturated snowpack would lock my foot in place as I walked on. I didn’t fancy a twisted ankle (or worse) so I was a little more cautious. We hiked up the gulley to Second Peak, avoiding the snow where possible.
By now the clouds were really rolling in and a little bit of snow fell as we reached the summit marker for Second Peak. We dropped our packs and had a late lunch. Third Peak drifted in and out of view. The icy snow made the initial drop off behind Second Peak look a little unappealing, confirmed by another hiker we chatted to who went part of the way. But the route to Mount Seymour looked quite doable. Alas we were running out of time, and we weren’t sure that snowshoes would be good enough to cross some of the steep terrain in the col between the two peaks.
In the end the weather made our decision easy: what appeared to be snow quickly turned to big graupel pellets. We donned our raingear and headed back down from the summit. Somehow the snow had softened in the 20 minutes since we had climbed up, and we found ourselves breaking through the crust for much of the descent. The graupel was bouncing off the mossy slopes of the gulley, and I couldn’t resist taking a short video clip. Third Peak was nowhere to be seen, and even Second Peak was under heavy cloud, but by the time we passed First Peak, the snow had stopped.
All that remained now was to retrace our now-graupel-filled steps. We slipped and slid our way back to Brockton Point, encouraged by a rumble or two of thunder behind us. By now the light was fading and it was a deep gloaming by the time we returned to the car. We also couldn’t see more than about ten metres in front of us either, which made finding the car in the empty parking lot a bit of a challenge…
Not a spectacular day, but still a fine way to spend an afternoon.
Distance: 7 km
Elevation gain: 400 m
Photos on Flickr