Mount Seymour (First Peak), 15 Jan 2017

Opinion:
What? Mt Seymour again? Well, this time we had to do battle with the hordes and barely succeeded – we got one of the last spots in the overnight parking lot (P5). Was it worth it? Overall, yes though perhaps not for everyone. Having to park nearly 2 km from the trailhead seems like quite a deterrent in principle, but in practice plenty of people seemed to be content to do the extra distance. Not sure I’d be so happy if all I was doing was Dog Mountain, but it was fine for going all the way to the first peak. Remarkably, we found a peaceful spot, just short of Pump Peak, and enjoyed a view over the city with our lunch.

Fact
Exceptionally busy – apparently there was already a line-up at 7 am when the road opened! Getting there after about 9:30 am on a (sunny) weekend is probably going to be an exercise in frustration. The alternative would be to turn up later in the day, after lunch and enjoy an afternoon hike up (and walk back down around sunset).

The backcountry parking lot (P5) was marked from the turn into the first day lodge and not where the main parking lot begins (where it used to start). That already cuts into the backcountry parking by a couple of dozen cars. Of course what didn’t help in P1 was that people parked too far apart, taking up valuable space. Parking in P5 added 3 km and at least 70 m of elevation gain to our trip.

As with Thursday’s hike, snowshoes were definitely not needed on the trail but microspikes were helpful (especially in the parking lots which were very icy). Most folks were keeping to the existing slide paths for easier descents, but many were pretty deep channels and sliding looked quite slow within them, so a few new slides had been made – alas right across the trail in a couple of places…

The snow was firm enough to invite exploration of the summit area, which was something we hadn’t really done much of before, and was really enjoyable. Many of the beautiful wind-scoured snow features had been walked on since Thursday, so I was glad I got those photos when I did!

Quite a few people walked straight up the face towards First Peak, and many of those didn’t seem to know where to go after that – other than not the way they’d come up! We had to point out the trail to a few so they wouldn’t try and pick a silly route back down. I saw only one person carrying an ice axe for slip protection, and more than a few weren’t even wearing good boots or microspikes. Two unleashed dogs did come to visit us while we were sitting having our lunch. Not welcome at all, but at least both disappeared the moment they were called back.

Not much else to add. I still can’t quite believe that we still came away feeling like we’d had a peaceful outdoor experience!

Distance: 11 km
Elevation gain: 620 m

Story

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