Snowshoeing Hollyburn Mountain

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In January, Jan and I took advantage of a perfect holiday Monday and snowshoed up Hollyburn Mountain. The views were bluebird! Here’s a recap of our day and the hike up:

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The trail is free, and starts from the alpine area of Cypress Mountain. It’s a left from the main road as you head towards the ski parking. At the base, you can rent snowshoes or get passes to go into the groomed Cypress trails. The Hollyburn trail is marked by red poles, like the one in the photo above.

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The first part of the trail is one of the steepest, and I always find myself de-layering here :). Eventually, you move away from the power lines alongside this trail and into a more forested section.

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After 2.8 km of meandering up (sometimes climbing, sometimes more level ground), the trail turns up to the left towards Hollyburn peak. Several times when I haven’t had time for a long snowshoe, I’ve called it a day here.

This time, though, we had the whole day and it was so beautiful, I knew we had to get to the peak.

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At about 3.6 km, the trail starts to wrap around the mountain. Here, it’s easy to go exploring “off piste” if you have good visibility and the right conditions. Make sure you take the usual safety precautions that you would in the backcountry!

We explored a bit – my favourite is the trees that are covered in snow!

The snow is deep – I would definitely recommend snowshoes (you need more than just boots or spikes, at least in January/February).

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Eventually we stopped goofing around and made it the final few hundred meters to the peak. The views were unreal!

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2017-01-02-snowshoe-hike-hullyburn-mountain-038We took in the sights, ate a snack, and headed back down. Our total ascent time (with lots of playing around/stopping for photos) was just under 2 hours. We took our time going back down as well, with lots of photo stops.

Quick stats: 8 km roundtrip | Dec-Mar | 3 hours roundtrip | Parking and snowshoe rentals ($15) at Cypress Alpine Parking lot | 590 m elevation

Photos all thanks to Jan

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Lynn Peak Hike (Guest Starring Catherine and Silvia)

Longtime blog readers (and, ok, my cousin and her bff) came for a visit to Vancouver last weekend! We had a great time exploring the city, and ended up on a surprise hike. Here’s the story:

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Jan usually takes (and edits) blog photos but since this was spontaneous, it’s me & an iphone :)

On Monday morning I had planned to take Catherine and Silvia to Lynn Canyon. It’s my favourite alternative to the Capilano Suspension Bridge (almost as long, way less crowded and free!). We didn’t really have plans for the afternoon, so we got a slow start to the morning. Around 9, we walked to Whole Foods for breakfast and almond milk lattes of course (Silvia got the mac’n’cheese, which ended up being the best decision). Then, we got in the car and drove to Lynn Canyon.

Once you get into the park, the suspension bridge is only a few steps from the parking lot. I thought we’d go across, take some photos, then do an easy hike to Rice Lake and back (total time ~1h max). We did cross the bridge, but once we climbed the stairs above the 30 ft pool, we passed a sign showing the path to Rice Lake. It was an inset on a bigger map, which included the trail to Lynn Peak via the Lynn Loop trail.

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We were less than 2k from the base of Lynn Peak, and it was turning into a really nice day. I asked the girls if they wanted to try to climb up, and they agreed. I went once last summer with Brian, Sarah and Moira, so I knew the trail was well marked. I also had a lot of extra food with me, plus most of the 10 essentials (I think we were a little light on clothing but I always pack emergency blankets).

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The first part of the hike is a steady uphill along a rocky trail. Since it was a relatively warm day, there was water flowing in some parts. Eventually, the trail changes to packed dirt switchbacks. We made really good time along both these sections (total ~1.5km), and de-layered a bunch of clothing.

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At that point, you find yourself on a ridge that goes steadily up. This is where we also found snow. We had decided that if it got too snowy or cold, we’d turn around, but since we still had lots of layers to put back on, and the snow was packed and melting, we carried on.

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The trail is deceiving here because there are several false flats – just as you think you are at the peak, it turns and there is another uphill section. There were some steep parts here where poles or spikes would have been helpful (but not necessary).

Along the way, we passed 2 viewpoints: first looking east, then west.

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Viewpoint on Lynn Peak looking at Seymour Mountain

 

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Viewpoint from Lynn Peak looking at Grouse Mountain – on a clear day you can also see the Georgia Strait behind it!

After a little more climbing, we reached the peak. I was so impressed that the girls made it up – I was definitely feeling the climb, and I remember thinking the same thing last time I did it. Lynn Peak has been called a less crowded Grouse Grind :).

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The views definitely did not disappoint – the pic I took is overexposed but we could see way past UBC and the airport to the USA. Pretty cool! Our ascent time was about 1:15, with a few stops for breaks – total ~1:30. We hung out at the top for a bit, enjoyed the view, ate a bunch of snacks, and then headed back down. It only took us 30 mins to get back to the Lynn Loop trail, and then another 20 to get back along the creek, over the bridge, and into the car.

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Total hike time: 0:25 (Lynn Canyon) + 2:00 (Lynn Loop and climb) + 0:30 (summit) + 0:50 (descent and Lynn Loop) + 0:25 (Lynn Canyon) = 4:30. Links to Strava page with GPS info.

After driving back to Vancouver, we stopped for bulk candy and Momo, and these 2 tried their best to stay awake until 9 :) It was a great day!

Snack Attack

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I go back and forth on snacking. Usually I try to stick to three balanced meals a day, but I often find that at work, when things get hectic and I can’t sit down for a meal (or when I’m on top of a mountain!), snacks save the day. I’ve also had days when I’m a bit late getting dinner on the table, and I just need something so I can think straight.

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A little while ago, I got the chance to try NatureBox, the company that delivers snacks to your door. You can choose from over 100 snacks, and they are always getting new ones. I got a one-time order, but you can also use NatureBox like a subscription service, and get recurring deliveries.

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Basically, you log onto the site and select the snacks you want. I loved that you can choose from different categories, like “Best Sellers”, “Nuts” or “Jerky”, and you can also use filters like “gluten free” or “less than 150 calories”. If I’m snacking at home, I usually prefer something like a piece of fruit or half an avocado, but when I’m on the go these are nice to have as backup.

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Members get a discount on the prices listed on the site, and free delivery (even to Canada!). Here’s what I chose:

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The box arrived a few days later, and so far I’ve broken into the Peanut Butter Nom Noms (like little PB power cookies) and Jan is eyeing the veggie salt and vinegar chips. I think the rest will come to the Sunshine Coast with me for busy days covering the ER or hikes to explore the area nearby.

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If you want to try NatureBox, you can use this link to get $20 off your snacks – and since these 8 were only $25, it’s not a bad deal at all.

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P.S. Valentine’s treats are also an extra 25% off now with code LOVE17 ;)

Let me know if you try NatureBox! Do you regularly eat a snack during the day? What’s your favourite?

Al’s Habrich Ridge Trail Snowshoe

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On Saturday, Jan and I joined our friends Greg, Martina and Christine for a day in the snow. We’d all done a bunch of snowshoeing on the North Shore Mountains (Grouse, Cypress and Seymour) this year, so we thought we’d venture further north and look for some new-to-us terrain.

We decided to head to Squamish and check out the trails that start at the top of the Sea to Sky Gondola. The gondola entrance is just off the Sea-to-Sky Highway, about a kilometre before downtown Squamish. At the bottom, there are amazing views of the Chief, another awesome hike (which I’ve done in the summer, but not the winter!)

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Anyway, you can either hike up to the top, or take the gondola. We really thought about hiking, since the fee to go up+down is $37.95 per person, but a ticket to go down only is $9.99 per person. The guys at the bottom told us to expect a 5-6 hour trip if we hiked up, so we chose to ride. Vancouver trails says the hike takes about 3.5 hours in the summer, so I guess that would mean about 5 hours of hiking/snowshoeing in the winter. We also didn’t have trax or microspikes, which probably would help a lot. The views going up the gondola were spectacular, even if the price was a bit much. I plan to come back to do the full hike up at some point!

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At the top of the gondola, there is a viewing platform and cafe. Just behind the cafe/gondola exit, there is a snowshoe rental area and a nice, warm firepit. When we got there, around 10 am, it was really quiet. We took a few photos and then headed down a snowy road/wide walking path until we reached the trailhead. Along the way, we saw some people ice climbing on the rock faces! I’d love to try it this winter.

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The trail we chose is called Al’s Habrich Ridge trail. It wraps up around the northwest part of Habrich Ridge, part of Mount Habrich. The trail map we picked up at the bottom of the gondola says it’s an advanced/backcountry trail.

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We reached the trail head and pretty much immediately started going up. The trail has 340m of gain in 3km. The steepest section is at the beginning, but this was definitely a workout. We ended up getting to the top in just under 90 minutes, and the return trip was much faster (partly due to sliding down ;). I felt like we were hustling for most of the way up.

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The trail map says that the markers go from 1-44, but at the “top”, we only saw #33. The trail pretty clearly ended, and there was a spectacular viewpoint, which looks out to Garibaldi, Atwell, Tantalus peaks as well as Howe Sound. A connector trail called Robin’s Connector apparently leads to another viewpoint with views of Habrich itself, Sky Pilot, Copilot and Ledge peaks, but it wasn’t broken in and we weren’t really prepared to be trailfinding.

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Overall, I’d say that snowshoes were the way to go. We did see some people in with microspikes, but there were definitely some deep-snow sections. At the gondola, they recommended renting poles, which we decided not to do. It was totally fine without them, but you could see how they’d be helpful given the steep terrain. I don’t think it would have been worth the extra 10$/person.

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Trail comments in general: I thought this trail was really well marked for a backcountry trail. We never really wondered if we were in the right place, which is impressive given the amount of snowfall we’ve had.

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I will say that it’s not an easy go, and I’d make sure that you have ample time, snacks and of course the 10 essentials. We saw a few older kids (12+) on the trail on our way down, but I think the average child would have a hard time with this one. The views were totally, absolutely, 100% worth the tougher hike!

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When we got back, I was surprised at how busy the gondola area was! The cafe was bustling with people who rode the gondola up for lunch with a view. If you’re looking for an interesting lunch spot (maybe to take visitors) this could be great! Otherwise, it seemed a little bit expensive/typical ski-lodge food, so we decided to head down to Squamish for a late lunch.

We ended up at the Howe Sound brewery, which was really great. I had so much trouble deciding what to get, but ended up going with soup+salad with salmon on top (very typical lunch for me!). Jan had a burger (I think Christine did too) and a beer, which he said were both great. I got the soup of the day (tomato-lentil), and the cup size with a small salad was more than enough food.

photo creds, as usual, to the wonderful Jan Heuninck