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
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.
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.
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:
Finally the South summit
The view to the North Summit
The North Summit!!
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).
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.
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.
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.