Month: August 2014

Brandywine Mountain Aug 20 2014

Hadn’t made any firm plan to hike. I had a ton of work to do, so I grappled with the decision to either stay home or go for a hike. If you take care of yourself you are likelier to produce higher quality work and work more efficiently. But, despite this sound logic – I still felt that sense of guilt that I didn’t have my priorities straight. So there was this loud voice in my head saying “Lyda, you don’t have time for anything else right now, especially with the upcoming launch of the Greater Victoria Green Team “. I had to really work at shutting that voice up and reminding myself that self care is not just important to me on a personal level but also very important on a professional level too. So, I decided I was going to go hiking! 

Decided to give Brandywine Mountain a shot. I had been there twice before, once in 2005 and once in 2006. Back then I remember standing on the slippery scree on the way up thinking to myself that I was in way over my head. I did not make the peak either time (I’d made it to about an hour or so from the peak). The first time I gave Brandywine Mountain a try in 2005 someone from another hiking group helped me down the slippery scree, which consisted mainly of encouraging words that I could do it. The second time I went there in 2006, I wondered why the heck I hadn’t learned from the first time that this was not a hike for me. Decided back then not to come back again. It’s been a long time… and I was curious to see how I would do this time. Back in 2005 and 2006 I was fitter (and skinnier), so this was definitely going to be interesting. To sum it up. It turned out to be one of the easiest hikes/scrambles I’ve done. I was in a daze afterwards wondering why I had been so worried about this hike. I think it must be that over the years I’ve built myself up mentally to tackle more challenging hikes. It could also be that I am more experienced now. Instead of hiking on the slippery scree like I had the other two times, I stuck to bigger more firm rocks. 

We drove along the forest service road off Hwy 99 (Brandywine Mountain is between Squamish and Whistler) until we reached a sign that said 2kms to the lower parking lot and 5 kms to the upper parking lot. Because it was now pretty late in the day, we decided to give the upper parking lot a shot and avoid the 365 meters elevation gain in forest bit from the 2WD trailhead. The road wasn’t too bad. We got to a sign that said 2kms to the Brandywine Meadows trailhead and the road looked dodgy. We decided to not chance it and parked here. We started off just after 12pm. That 2kms was a super easy walk and we got to the trailhead in 20mins. It took only 10 mins and we were in Brandywine meadows. From what I recall it is at least one hour to the meadows from the 2WD trailhead down below. Brandywine Meadows was beautiful! We walked along the trail which was mainly flat. There weren’t too many wild flowers. I also noticed there weren’t many mosquitoes either. Some parts of the trail were muddy. There were two creek crossings. The first one was easy enough. The second one, not so much. The water was rushing by and I found it a challenge to cross. So I wandered up further and Shawn helped me get across on a log.

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Now we were at the foot of the Mountain. It was only an hour from the car. Up we went, towards the dreaded scree!! There was a skinny trail on the slippery loose scree. I avoided it completely by sticking to bigger firm rocks to the left of it.

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We got to the top of that first slope to the ridge. Beautiful views all around us.

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The last push to the peak and finally we made it! From the car it had taken us 3 hours and 20 mins. We were there at around 3.30pm. We had lunch, signed the summit register and enjoyed the amazing views all around us. We hung out there for over an hour!

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Started to head down at 4.40pm

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On the last part of our descent into the meadow we spotted two marmots. Noticed a lot more mosquitoes now (where were they before?). Once down at the meadow, Shawn said he thought the way I’d crossed the creek earlier was more challenging than the way he’d crossed. So, I went to where he’d crossed and he looked for a way to make it easier for me to cross. I decided to just cross and promptly slipped on a rock and fell into the stream. It wasn’t deep, but because of the way I fell in. I was wet all the way up to just below my waist. My feet were swimming pools all the way back to the car (lucky this didn’t happen on the way up!).Note to self: next time, I’m just taking my boots and socks off and going across in the water from the get go!). This is where I fell in:


The walk back to the car was beautiful got to see the sun setting on the Black Tusk


The elevation gain 1019 meters and we hiked 15kms

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All in all, it was an amazing day. When I got home, I thought about my answer when someone recently asked me about my fitness level – I told her I was not fit and argued all the reasons I thought I was not fit.  Truth of the matter is, while I definitely could  lose a few pounds, I am fit. It’s taken me until now to feel comfortable saying that simple statement “I am fit”. Don’t know why it’s so hard to make this positive statement about myself! I also thought about my concerns about making it to the peak of Brandwine Mountain. At the start of most hikes, I wonder the same thing. Sure, there are definitely going to be hikes/scrambles that are going to be over my level of comfort which I won’t do, but overall I’m a pretty decent hiker and do challenging hikes. I need to stop selling myself short and stop questioning myself so much!


Mount Strachan 17 August 2014

Mount Strachan is on the North Shore in Cypress Provincial Park. Decided to do a shortish hike. Parked and headed off on the Howe Sound Crest Trail, the same trail you start on to go to Unnecessary Mountain.


We veered off the trail onto the trail through a gully towards Mount Strachan. It became very steep, very quickly and was less a hike than a scramble with some boulder hopping. We got to the saddled between Mount Strachan North Peak and South Peak. We went up both! Unfortunately for us, despite it being a beautiful day, there was a fog so we couldn’t see any views (so took very few photos)

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After a lunch (sandwich and grapes) we found our way to the ski run and looped down that way, rather than go the steep trail we had just come up. Once we got to the parking lot, we found some blueberry bushes and picked some. yum!!


Really enjoyed being out on this mountain.

The stats for this hike: We did 10kms and it was a 750 meters elevation gain

Mount Macfarlane Aug 6 2014

Packed up our day packs and drove to Chilliwack. At Vedder Crossing, we turned left and drove just under 22kms until we reached a small gravel parking lot. This was the trailhead for Mount Macfarlane.







The stats are 21kms roundtrip, elevation gain 1800 meters, and the average grade is 16.8% (steep!) It was flat for the first 200 meters, then we reached a big log that we crossed over onto Pierce Trail

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Then the trail got super steep. It was definitely not for the faint of heart, that’s for sure. I dragged myself up through the forest. There were two short boulder fields to cross.

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We came across a stream we had to cross and I had to balance across a log. There was a rope to hold onto and the darn thing wasn’t taut enough and at one point, I thought I was going to fall into the stream.


After 3 hours and 20 minutes we finally reached Pierce Lake. We took a break here and Shawn chowed down on his sandwich, I ate part of a muffin and some grapes. I planned to save the majority of my lunch for our lunch break at the peak. Despite it being a nice day, noticed that a fog was rolling in.

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Then we got to a meadow area, with no trees. Beautiful wildflowers everywhere!

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Then we had to hike through mud, then through a scree next to a waterfall, up a steep narrow trail. The fog seemed to be getting thicker.

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Finally we reached the upper lake, and could barely see it through the fog. We took a moment to think about whether to carry on, because of the fog. We knew the general direction of Mount Macfarlane Peak and there was a distinct trail, so we carried on.

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On our way up it cleared up and we saw a view. Same shot, with fog, fog lifting a  bit and then somewhat clear of fog. Could finally see the lake. The fog only lifted for a few minutes. So glad we saw it.

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We got to see a pika on the way up. The trail became loose shale. I did not like it one bit and was slowing down quite a bit to navigate through this part. Also, at some points rocks would come loose and barrel down from where Shawn had just been towards me, so it was dodgy and we had to take care neither of us were directly below the other. DSC00823 DSC00612

Just about 95 meters from the peak with more slippery shale to hike up and noticing that we were running out of time and knowing I was going to take awhile to get up there and then down, I made the decision to stay put. Could barely see much of anything cause we were pretty much socked in. Shawn is like a goat, and can scurry up anything very quickly, so he went ahead to get to the peak.


Shawn’s photos at the peak (I didn’t miss much)

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It was slowing going, to get down that slippery shale

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Got to Pierce Lake again. this time we could see a bit more. Also saw some cool fungi!

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It was a long hike down. We came across a couple who had just reached Pierce Lake and were planning to camp. They were thinking about heading up to Mount Macfarlane in moonlight. Hopefully it was clear for them!

We never really had a chance to sit down and take a proper lunch break cause the hike was so long, and felt like we were on the move the entire time with a few short breaks in there. We’d started the hike at 9.39am and we were back at the car at 9.10pm, just when it got dark. I used my headlamp for the last 10 mins of the hike. So, basically we were hiking for 11 and 1/2 hours. This was a tough slog of a hike and it was really too bad we weren’t rewarded for all that hard work with the views.

I thought about the fact that I was pretty close to the peak and chose not to go that last bit. I think it was a wise decision cause if I had carried on to the peak, I’d have seen nothing view wise and we would have likely been hiking back in the dark another 1/2 hour or more which would have made it all that more dodgy. Despite it being a good decision, I still have that nagging feeling that I didn’t “make it” and wasn’t “successful” on this hike. I think success is how you define it. Getting to the very top isn’t necessarily success, perhaps in this case success might be defined by making a decision that allowed us to have a safer hike and not hike in the dark!  As hard as this hike was, I loved every minute of it. Can’t wait until the next one.

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Baden Powell Trail Aug 1 2014

Shawn and I had done Deep Cove to Grouse Mountain along the Baden Powell Trail back in 2011, so we decided we’d park at Horseshoe Bay and hike the Baden Powell Trail to Grouse Mountain.

We got to the trailhead (which is a small gravel parking lot to the right of where cars pay to get onto the ferry at Horseshoe Bay) and started off a 6.15am


Unfortunately, due to poor signage got off course a bit (note to anyone else doing this hike, stick to the trail next to the Hwy and steer left). Did a bit of bushwhacking and got back onto the Baden Powell trail. It was steep up right away. Then I heard a hoot. I thought it was just someone hooting further up the trail trying to be funny and decided for fun I’d hoot back. Then it hooted back at me, and I hooted back. We went back and forth for 5 or so minutes and then we looked up into the trees to see a bird flying towards us, at this point we figured it was an owl. Lost sight of it and continued hiking up the trail. The Shawn looks straight up and says “it’s an owl, it’s staring right at me” and then it flew off. We noticed another smaller owl flying after it. We hooted back and forth a bit and saw it flying through the trees a few more times following us. I’ve been hiking awhile and I have never seen an owl on a hike before. It was really amazing. Wish we could have gotten a photo but it was too dark, and the owls were too far away and too darn quick for us. Based on their size and colouring – we guess it was either a barred owl or a short-eared owl.

We’d read up on this hike beforehand and someone had reported that it was “VERY dangerous” so I was anxiously waiting for this dangerous part through scree. Got to the boulder field and had no problem. It was very steep. I definitely had to use my hands a lot, but I never felt it was dangerous, though on hindsight, it would have sucked to fall at any point during this section (falling on rock would hurt!). Then again,tripping or falling on most any hike would lead to getting injured too.. so this hike was no more dangerous than most others I’ve done

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We finally popped out at Eagle Ridge with beautiful views

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It was pretty much downhill from this point on and we ended up at the Lodge at Cypress Mountain. On the way there, Shawn saw some rustling in the bushes and said “there is a bear in there”, at which point I quickly grabbed my bear spray at the ready..and we carried on away from the bear slowly. Then we had a lunch in the shade at the Lodge.


We’d been hiking for 6 hours at this point. aired out my feet and changed socks! Then we started heading for the trail to continue on.. and I heard “excuse me” from a distance and heard a tourist from the lodge restaurant inform us we were bee-lining straight for a bear. We skirted the bear and headed on our way..


Pretty much a rooty trail from this point on, no views to be had.

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We popped out at the British Properties, never been there before. Very large expensive homes. We had been aiming for Cleveland Dam (not too far from Grouse Mountain), but due to confusing signage didn’t quite get there. We hopped onto the transit down to Marine Drive, got onto bus 257 to Horseshoe Bay and it pretty much dropped us off 200meters from our car. We’d been hiking for 11 hours today and covered 25 kms. I think next hike will probably be somewhere more remote!

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Unnecessary Mountain 27 July 2014

Unnecessary Mountain gets its name because it was once part of the route to reach The Lions, and now the route avoids it so it is now “unnecessary” 🙂 It is part of the Howe Sound Crest Trail in Cypress Provincial Park.

We parked at the Cypress Mountain Parking lot, hopped onto the Howe Sound Crest trail, loads of people on it. Had never done St. Mark’s before and the plan was to do St. Mark’s, Strachan and Hollyburn – but decided once we were on the trail to do Unnecessary Mountain. We’d never been there before, so were excited to check it out.


Noticed a guy behind us just before Bowen lookout and he hiked past us (more about him coming up). It was a gravel trail for the first while then it became a rooty trail

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It was pretty steep up on the rooty trail to get to St. Mark’s summit and checked out the beautiful views, tons of people up there – could barely find room to check out the views. There must have been at least 20 people up there at the time.

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After St. Mark’s summit, we hiked downhill and then we started to head uphill steeply. Just when we started going up, we came across the guy who had passed us before the Bowen lookout, he was sitting and looked really tired. Asked him where he’d hiked from and where he was heading to. He said he’d started at Horseshoe Bay and was heading to Unnecessary Mountain. He mentioned he’d done the trail before, but that he’d gained some weight so was struggling more than he’d expected. Then he said “I feel like such a tool asking, but do you have any water?” I had brought 3 litres of water on the hike, (and had chugged an additional 4th litre at the parking lot), had about 2.5 litres at this point, so I pulled out my one litre bottle of water and poured out about 250 ml. It wasn’t much, but I had no idea how much further to the peak, and it was a hot day so I was concerned about enough water for myself. The guy had pretty much no water and he planned to get to Unnecessary Mountain and then hike all the way down to Horseshoe Bay…I was worried about him. I sure hope he turned back at that point. We did not see him again, so I imagine he got off the mountain safely. Shockingly, this happened a few more times today (more to come about this)

The trail on the way up.

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We broke out into beautiful views at the top and thought we had reached the South Summit, but turns out we hadn’t. Noticed a guy taking selfies. We wandered up and down steep terrain towards the North Summit:

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Finally the South summit

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The view to the North Summit

The view back to the South Summit


The North Summit!!

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When we got to the North Summit, the sun was beating down it was super hot. Didn’t notice any shade for a lunch spot. Then spotted 3 hikers sitting in a shaded spot. I said to Shawn “this might be the only shaded spot”. One of those 3 hikers said “yup it’s a half hour to the next shaded spot”. I don’t know if he was just being funny in a friendly way, or sarcastic. I’m guessing the latter, cause they didn’t offer to share the shaded spot with us (not ideal hiking etiquette :(). Shawn found a spot where there was some shade but we had to climb down a bit onto a ledge, and the height was a bit scary for me.

Hung around enjoying a lunch and the beautiful views (especially of the Lions).

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That guy who had been taking selfies before the South Summit of Unnecessary Mountain arrived at the North Summit, (we had been there for a 1/2 hour or so, so he had been slow getting there). Another guy who had been coming from the direction of the Lions started talking with him in their own language so I’m guessing they were friends and they started heading back right away. About 15 mins later we started heading back ourselves.

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After the South Summit we started heading downhill steeply. Came across that guy who had been taking selfies earlier, he was alone (his friend must have taken off) and he appeared to be struggling. He was moving slowly and cautiously. He slipped and yelped at one point. We passed him… and then something crossed our minds. So we stopped and waited for him and asked “Do you have enough water?” he said he’d run out of water awhile back. He’d had 3 gatorades (750mls each) – might have used the bottles for water not just gatorade though and proudly told us “…and two beers”. We figured it was about 3 hours or so to the parking lot from that point, but at his speed more like 4+ hours. This guy was in trouble. I poured out 500ml of my water into his empty gatorade bottle. I wanted to give him more but decided I had to also take care that I had enough water too. We asked if he had a phone to call for help if he needed to, he said yes. So, we headed off.

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After St. Marks when we were heading downhill we noticed a couple of guys behind us. They caught up to us pretty quick. One of them asked “do you have any water?” in my head I was thinking “whoa… seriously?” I told them I’d given close to a litre of water to two hikers already and had just enough left for myself (to be honest, I could have used more and was rationing). Shawn had brought enough water for himself for this hike. I struggled with guilt the rest of the way down – it’s upsetting to have to say no to someone asking you for water. The main thing that put me at ease was that they were only about an hour from the parking lot, so figured they were fine.

Had I just had enough water for myself, what would have happened to those two guys I had given water to? Would I have given my water to them anyway, and left not enough for myself? If I had allowed myself to run out of water because I was being a good samaritan search and rescue might have had to come get me. What would my excuse have been? I gave water to other people who had made the mistake of not bringing enough water? What about the mistake of giving up your own water? Bad situation all around. Not a fun situation to be in. Back a few weeks ago, I ran out of water on my way down from Elk Mountain myself, but I had calculated enough water for 2 days – and only ran out for the last hour or so to the trailhead, while it was an amateur mistake, it’s still not as bad as running out of water on the way UP or being 4+ hours away from a water source and running out. I heard that some hikers had been helicoptered out of this area because they were dehydrated and ran out of water. This is the very first time I’ve run into so many unprepared hikers. We’re more used to hiking in more remote areas, where hikers are more prepared; however, because this hike was so close to the city, there were lots of city slickers on the trail who just weren’t prepared. At least there are lots of people and there is phone reception in case one gets into trouble.

Got to the parking lot at 7.30pm, had been on the trail from around 11am. Really enjoyed this hike (sans all the unprepared hikers!). We’d done 20 kms.

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Cheam Peak 18 July 2014

It was a Friday and we had a late start, so we decided to check out Cheam Peak which is a short hike we’d never done before. We headed to the Fraser Valley, down Chilliwack Lake Road and then onto Chipmunk Creek Forest Service Road.  We knew the road to the trailhead was rough, and figured we’d try to get our Rav4 up the road as far as we could and hike the rest of the way up. We got just a few kilometers in and it became clear that it just wasn’t worth damaging our car to keep going and we were still really far from the trailhead. There were loads of washouts and cross ditches. We figured we’d do another hike in the area instead. So, we turned around and just when we did, a 4×4 came along and the guy got out, walked over and asked us what the conditions were like ahead. When he found out we wanted to do Cheam Peak and had given up on the road, without hesitation he offered Shawn and I a lift to the trailhead! How cool is that?? We excitedly parked our car on the side of the road and hopped in. The driver’s name was Allie and his wife’s name was Marlena. We yapped up a storm all the way to the trailhead and hiked to the top of Cheam with them and back – they were great company.

The views from the trailhead were spectacular. I’m used to working hard to get to the top of a mountain to get the reward of a view; to get it from the get go, was a real treat! The trail was straightforward, there was some snow in sections – though easily crossed as it was mushy. It got steepish in parts. What we saw along the route to the peak:

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As we started to ascend Cheam Peak we saw Lady Peak across the way. We’re going to have to check it out one day! It’s a scramble, versus a hike on a trail.DSC00480

More views along route, it was windy. Especially when we got to the top! At one point, I thought the wind might blow me right off the peak. Scary. What amazing views of the Fraser Valley from the top!! We had a lunch at and there were two chipmunks that were aggressively vying for our food. One even pushed the other off a rock. We were at the top for about 45 mins.

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A memorial plaque. I’ve noticed memorials on other peaks as well. I’d love for a tree to be planted near a peak in memory of me one day. DSC00512

After lunch we started to head down. Hard on the knees I must say! I was thankful for my hiking poles.

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Took some photos of the road on the way out:

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We did 9.5 kms and it took about 2 hours up and hour and half down, plus a 45 min lunch. We had always heard about Cheam through the years, but had also heard about the rough road which had stopped us from checking it out before. It was so nice to have been able to hike this beautiful area. And what luck too!! We never would have been able to had a random stranger not offered us a lift. It’s really great when things work out like that. It’s a lesson to just go out there and give whatever it is that you want to do a shot. Sure, it might not work out – but on the other hand, it just might. It’s always worth giving it a go. Nothing ventured nothing gained.

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Hollyburn Peak, North Shore 10th July 2014

I’m usually pretty good about keeping up with these types of things; however, after I fell behind with writing about this hike, and the next one, I just kept putting it off and then it became overwhelming (I’ve got 4 hikes to blog about now). Doing things as they come up in bite sizes is a much better idea, versus leaving it until there is a ton to do all at once! I knew that, but here I am anyway 🙂 Don’t really have a proper excuse. I think you always have time for the things you really want to do. Not to say I didn’t want to blog about my hikes, just that other things took precedence. One of those things was work! Right around this hike I was in the midst of  the hiring process to hire someone to start and run the Greater Victoria Green Team. The very next day after this hike I was buried in interviews for a few days. Which was a very new experience for me, as I’d never been on the other side of the interview process.  Then I got buried in more work and missed writing about the next hike.. and once you’re behind, it’s easy to just keep getting further behind. It’s one of those things I really grapple with – I let work take over, and I need to get serious about balancing out my life with more non-work stuff!

When you take care of yourself outside of work (exercise, eat healthy, read a book, go for a hike/walk, visit with friends/family etc) you in essence create a healthier you, both mentally and physically – and you work more efficiently and effectively and ultimately produce better work. So, if I truly want to excel at work, I have to excel at doing the outside of work things. I’m working on it. I’m sure most everyone struggles with maintaining balance. Anyway, back to the task at hand – blogging about Hollyburn Mountain!

Drove over to the Hollyburn trailhead (“the Cypress Mountain Vancouver outlook” if you google map it) with Shawn and met up with a couple of friends at 10.30am. The aim was to get to the top of Hollyburn. Not a long trail, but definitely steep for the last portion of it to the top. It was hot, a few mosquitoes were flying about. We took breaks in the shade. Hadn’t seen our friends in awhile and it was so nice to catch up on what they had been up to. They’re both entrepreneurs and veering off and blasting their own paths, which was really cool to hear about.

The trail was wide for the first while, then narrowed and became rocky and rooty.

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Then it became a bit of a scramble towards the top, and had to use our hands


This was the top! There was a bit of pond and it was rocky. We also got to check out a grouse that walked by us like we weren’t there. A whiskey Jack landed on Shawn’s hand.

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The views were awesome. Great view of the Lions

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We had our lunches and headed down soon after. We were on the mountain for about 4 hours and completed 8kms according to our GPS. Fun hike, close to home.

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