I have often looked at Crown Mtn. while enjoying a BBQ with friends down at Jericho or Locarno beaches, near UBC. I knew I would make my way to the summit, it was just a question of when.
We drove to the Grouse parking lot, and were surprised to see it so crowded: what were all those people doing there? We chose to hike up the BCMC trail, shunning the Grouse Grind and its many artificial steps and spandex clad hikers jogging up and down. After just over an hour and a half we arrived at the chalet and took a quick bathroom break. I always find it weird to have hiked up to a place that other people expended no energy to get to (by taking the gondola), and moreover arrive to a full blown restaurant instead of a peaceful lake.
We had been in the area several times before, but I was still surprised to find ourselves by the bear cages, which I don’t remember seeing before. We got lucky and two workers showed up with dog food (at least it looked like dog food) in buckets to feed the Grizzlies. Several people showed up to watch. It was quite amazing to see the bears up close, they have such huge claws.
From there we continued along the trail which took us to Dam Mtn. and then Little Goat Mtn. We had a good view of Goat Mtn., which we had been up on a previous trip. This time, instead of continuing along the ridge, we took the trail leading down to Hanes Pass. The trail was surprisingly steep, with lots of slippery roots and a few sections with ropes/cables, perhaps it would qualify as more of a route than a trail. This is the unfortunate reality of hiking to Crown Mtn – one has to descent to Hanes Pass and then ascend up the other side, and on the way back do it once again in reverse. Oh well.
From Hanes Pass we climbed steeply up another slippery and muddy trail. There was one interesting section where we scrambled across some rocky slabs. I imagined what this would be like with snow cover – quite precarious. Eventually we arrived on to the summit ridge and its fine views, and I sensed that we were getting close to the summit. The wind picked up. We kept moving up the ridge, doing a few easy scrambling moves before arriving to the tiny summit. There were a few people there, sitting just below the peak, but they soon left and we had the summit to ourselves. We found some shelter behind a rock, surveyed the views of UBC (home), the downtown and Stanley Park, and had a nice restful lunch.
Just after we started hiking down I met a professor from the Physics department. It took me a few long moments before I realized who he was – his face was just completely out of context. In fact, with shorts and a tshirt on, he looked just like a teenager. We continued down the ridge where I found a fire ring with a large pot on it. I made sure to scatter the ashes and carry the pot down, this subalpine area is no place for a fire. We made our way back to the chalet, starting to think about whether we would make it to the dinner we had been invited to at friends. We decided we’d take the gondola down to save time, but just as we got in line I discovered that I had forgotten my wallet in the car…
Then, by some miracle, a group VOC’ers showed up. They had come up from the Lynn Headwaters Park, and were taking the gondola down. We borrowed some money from Philippe and offered to drive him back to his car, saving him a long boring hike on the Baden Powell Trail. Things always seem to work out in the end. We dropped him off and made it to the dinner with plenty of time to spare.
It’s great to live in a city that has such wild scenery right at one’s fingertips. Perhaps it’s easy to take it for granted, and forget to be thankful for what we have.