Mount Seymour is a ski area located in North Vancouver. The figure 8 hike planned has several options for climbing peaks and returning early. It became a figure 9.
Starting from Mt Seymour road parking lot, head West on Dog Mountain Trail gradually traversing up and curving North around Dinky Peak. This whole section is littered with slippery rocks and roots. Walking poles recommended. Upon reaching to Boulder Creek and First Lake follow the trail West again, to the lookout point and after the forest trail, the trees opens up to show wonderful views of Vancouver. Doubling back, and joining the ominously named Suicide Bluffs Trail the path climbs. It’s marked as a rough trail and they are not kidding. Orange markers help keep travellers on the trail and ropes on some particularly steep but short climbs, easier. I hope suicide bluff is named for its potential rather than its history. The Samaritans offer advice. I’m not one to feel vertigo but the drop here is huge and straight down.
The plan was to join Mt. Seymour Trail, however it was closed and judging by the open ‘rough trail’, no additional deterrent was required. The service road ran parallel to the intended path. Hikers coming the other direction kindly shared that a mother bear and two cubs were just a short way ahead. My only previous bear encounter had been on a 3 day section of TRT and on this occasion, the animal was massive. Adrenaline started pumping. Shortly afterwards, a group of 4, plus small barking dog came into view corralling a small bear off the trail – potentially in my direction. This specimen was probably a little over a meter from snout to tail. I wondered where Mum and sibling were but decided it best to cross together with the other party – safety in numbers. Adrenaline still coursing, the centre crossing of the figure 8 was reached.
The trail begins to get steeper to Pump Peak and Tim Jones Peak. Hiking becomes more like rock scrambling. On several occasions, I found myself searching for the next part of the trail. Surely it couldn’t be that way? Oh yes it was! This is the highest point on the hike and from here, the peak of Mount Seymour itself can be climbed. I’d not planned on going to the summit but fate played its hand. I missed my turn and by the time my error was confirmed by GPS I decided to keep going. The climb is hard but the reward is worth the effort. Although there were plenty of other hikers to ask (this was moderately busy on a week day) I’d recommend some GPS mapping tool. The main trail was very well marked but on the smaller ones, GPS with pre-downloaded maps provided security. Wireless signals were not to be relied upon and my phone was in airplane mode + bluetooth on to save batteries.
Climbing back down, eventually the Mount Elsay trail was located. It was about the width of my hand. Having lost the trail 3 times in the next half mile and judging the cliff traverse by compass, it was time to pause and assess. Plenty of light to follow a well marked trail over the terrain I’d experienced thus far. Not enough to have time to regain the trail every 10 minutes. Mount Seymour trail had had pretty regular orange markers. I’d seen no signage for this trail thus far. Hiking alone and the bear encounter also played on the mind. On the well trafficked trails, bears are more familiar with the foot traffic. The trail ahead seemed very rarely travelled. Combined, this swayed a decision towards safe and fun rather as opposed to tough and risky. No regrets.
The planned figure 8 was now a figure 9, with the tail being an out-and-back. Tracing back to the centre of the figure 9, the turn goes left and towards multiple ski lifts.
A maze of trails lead down to Mystery Lake and meditation time. Tracing around the lake and down to the ski signs, the trail becomes a dirt road back down to the car park.
- Trail Start / End – N49.367398 W122.949022
- Start Time – 10:45am (1 hour drive from Barnaby)
- End Time – 5:00pm (golden light creating long shadows)
- Trail miles according to AllTrails – 8.1 of planned 9.3
- Elevation Gain according to AllTrails – 2549 of planned 3963
Planned Map data
Actual Map data
Sleep / Shelter / Cook System
- None – Day hike
- 2x 1.0L Katadyn BeFree filteration system. Lots of ascent=lots of water. Bottled water would be fine but this trail has plenty of creeks, why carry it the whole way? 80g ea.
Other Kit (in ditty bag)
- InReach Satellite communicator. Mostly for this blog. ~200g
- Survival matches. Survival basics ~ 10g.
- 2x solid fuel tablets. Survival basics ~20g.
- 2x Wetfire tinder. Survival basics ~10g.
- Ben’s 30 tick & insect repellent. Reports of bugs. ~ 50g
- Black Diamond ION head torch. Survival basics – 55g
- REI small towel. For cooling down with a wet towel – 25g.
- Sea to Summit mosquito head net. Reports of bugs – 37g.
- Tyvek sit mat. Great for avoiding a wet backside during breaks ~ 10g.
- USB charger and cables. For my phone. ~ 150g
- Knife – none (aircraft carry-on luggage)
- First Aid – none (day-hike, close to services)
Total dry pack weight ~1.1Kg
(+ ~0.4Kg for spare clothing -waterproof+down jacket)
(+ ~0.5Kg food)
(+ ~1Kg water)
Total carried weight ~3Kg
Kit – Wear/Carry
- Suunto Clipper compass. Survival basics – 5g.
- Black Diamond Z-pole. Lots of ascent, no need to adjust length. ~350g
- OR Active Ice sun gloves. Habit – 20g
- OR Sparkplug gaiters. Keep any debris out of low-cut shoes -25g
- OR Sun runners hat. Sun forecast -79g
- Buff. Essential gear / habit.
- Camera phone
- Patagonia Houdini waterproof. Weather can change fast here – 100g.
- Marmot Quasar down jacket. Survival basics, what if I have to spend the night? – 238g
- REI polyester SPF50 shirt. Sun protection, fast wicking.
- Arc’teryx Motus crew T-shirt. Fabulous summer base layer.
- REI boxer briefs
- Kuhl Kontra trousers. My favorite – always.
- Smartwool socks. Comfort padding.
- DryMax sock liners. Avoid blisters.
- Altra Lone Peak 3.5 trail running shoes. Light, cushioned with good grip.
- Trail mix
- Boiled sweets
- GU energy gels
- Fuel – none
- Water ~1Kg