Solana asked if I’d write a guest post while she’s away and I immediately offered to write one on Crown Mountain. I’d hiked the Hanes Valley route this summer, which Solana ran, and since we’d both had to pass the Crown Mountain post without hiking up to the top, it was calling to me.
I’ve been hiking a lot more than running this summer. The 5 Peaks races usually keep me in some sort of training through the summer. My schedule is always a bit haphazard with the whole summer off work and other outdoor activities calling. However, this year I had conflicts on both the Cypress and Blackcomb race days. I don’t know about you, but I tend to stick to training much better when a race is looming, so I’d let my running fall a little by the wayside. Feeling motivated by one last hike before the school season start, Mark and I felt hiking Crown Mountain was enough of a challenge for us, so off we went! There was a voice in my head saying, “People run this, hiking it will be a breeze!” Little did I know…
Here we are all gung ho at the bottom of Grouse Mountain.
Time check: 10:00am. Taking the gondola is an option, but we figured we’d save the cash, and get a warm up in on the BCMC. Mark is sporting his new favourite Salomon visor (stolen from Solana’s house). Mark’s one of those males that struggles with overheating when he exercises. I’m often telling him to ‘pop the top’ when I see him starting to heat up. However, with this visor, the top is always popped, and he gives it rave reviews.
I was happy to be the leader, having hiked the BCMC a few weeks earlier with Solana. Trouble is, when I’m with Solana, I often just blindly follow, so I was a little unsure of how to access the trail. Feeling a little embarrassed, I happened to run into a teaching colleague that was heading out on the Baden Powell, so she and her father pointed out the trail. For those of you that don’t know, and would like to try something different from The Grind, follow these signs!
The parking lot at the trail head was absolutely packed, but things were much quieter meandering up the BCMC:
Near the top, I saw this sign for the first time too! I should really pick my head up every once and a while…
We took the Pipeline route as I know the last bit of the trail has a pipe running partially above ground.
Leg one of the trip down, and back with the masses:
We stopped in the lodge for lunch and a quick shop for bug spray. I remembered the Haynes Valley route had been really buggy near the top of Grouse. On how many hikes can you stop for a bug spray purchase en route?
We hiked through the touristy bits at the top of the gondola until we hit a fork in the road. To the right was a sign that read ‘Hiking Not Recommended,” and to the left, a gravel path. We took the left. This is the reverse of the route we took when hiking Haynes, so we had an inkling of where to go.
Up we went:
You can take the Ridge Trail over Dam Mountain or the Alpine Trial at a bit lower elevation. Both are well marked. We opted for Ridge up and Alpine down.
The sounds of the zipliners and the occasional pipe were the only reminders we were still near civilization:
Around this point, we passed a family and the father said, “Only ten more minutes to the top!” Must have been a different ‘top’ than the one we were heading to.
We soon approached the first sign that actually stated our destination, and sight of the peak (we think!) came soon after:
We knew we would have to descend before our big ascent, and sometimes traveling down is as time consuming as traveling up!
We then hit the post leading to the Crown Mountain Summit. It’s only one kilometre to the top, but a steep kilometre it was!
We hit an opening where you can see where you have to go:
It was nice to take a peek into the Hanes Valley as the day we hiked, it was completely cloudy:
And finally, after crossing a few boulder fields (conveniently marked with yellow and blue paint splatters), we were at the top!
We could see it all: Mt. Baker and Mt. Ranier, The Lions, the whole Lower Mainland, and lots more of which I don’t know the names!
We kind of underestimated our travel time (judging off peoples running times…opps!), and as it was 3:30pm when we reached the top, we didn’t stay too long.
Down we went:
We were back to the top of Grouse by 6:00pm:
We were expecting the hike to take us six hours in total. As it was eight hours total at this time, we hopped the gondola down to the car. I always find a high elevation hike with 360 degree views exhilarating. If you have been through this area, and haven’t hiked up to the top of Crown, the extra grind one kilometre up and back is well worth the effort and the view!
Anyone out there that has ever ‘run’ the Crown Mountain section, I’m in awe of you!
As for running? Now that I’m back on my regular work schedule, I’ve already joined one 5 Peaks-Ladies of the Trails Run and the last 5 Peaks race of the season at Buntzen on Sept 28th is in the calendar!
Oh, and one last iPhone panorama (this summer’s obsession!):
Anyone out there recommend a 360 degree view hike they conquered this summer? We’re taking ideas for the future!
Thanks for having us as guests, S!
Cathy (and Mark)