Hollyburn Peak, 30 Dec 2010

The rain melted away (sic) and the sun came out. Blue sky from horizon to horizon. That, coupled with a ton of new snow on the North Shore, was enough to tease us outside from our post-Christmas comfort. We soon found ourselves stuck in slow-moving traffic in downtown Vancouver queuing to get over the Lions Gate bridge. The lights switched over to two lanes northbound as we crossed Denman St and twenty minutes later we were parked up at the Nordic area on Hollyburn.

Crowds of day-trippers were pouring off the trail as we plodded up the beginning steep slope. We stopped under the powerlines at the top for a breather and to eat a quick lunch. By now we only had an hour to sunset, which was not enough time to make it to the summit but that wasn’t going to stop us. We set off on our way as the light turned first golden, then orange before fading to a series of pink touches on the treetops.

The light ran out as we reached the base of the climb to the peak, about 20 minutes from the summit. No magical sunset colours, but the light on the trees was gorgeous. We began the climb, pausing for a good look at Crown Mountain at the first level area. We topped out on the summit about twenty minutes after the sun had set, just as the eastern horizon was losing its pink glow. A pair of snowshoers with dogs joined us there, took a picture of us with the deep red western sky behind us and promptly headed back down. We stayed longer, wandering over to the northern edge of the summit to view the Lions in all their glory.

The views were spectacularly clear, even though we’d missed the best part of the day. Looking to the south I saw a distant bump beyond the San Juan Islands and realized it must be Mt Rainier, 300 km to the south. That’s how clear it was. I think we’ve seen it only once before on another clear winter day a few years ago.

We took a few photos of the sunset, the floodlit-ski runs of Black Mountain and the Lions (of course) before making our way back to the car. We’d missed the sunset but those few silent moments on the summit to ourselves were worth it.

Distance: 7 km
Elevation gain: 400 m
Photos to come

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