Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Trail Report: St. Mark's Summit (Canada)

Canada part two!

The second part of my trip to Vancouver was a hike up to St. Mark's Summit on the Howe Sound Crest Trail.

Round trip distance: 6.8 miles (11 km)
Highest point: 4,494 feet (1,370 meters)
Elevation gain: 1,509 feet (460 meters)
Pass: None - free parking at Cypress Mountain

Hike info page: https://www.vancouvertrails.com/trails/st-marks-summit/

The hike left from the Cypress Mountain ski area in Cypress Provincial Park. It was easy to get to the ski area and there was plenty of parking. Several trails left from the corner of one of the parking lots. This is also the starting point for the Howe Sound Crest Trail, which spans over 18 miles (30 km). 

The beginning of the trail has a well maintained path, part of which is on a gravel road. It was a foggy morning and clouds were rolling into the forest. It made for some really neat pictures. I've always wanted to hike in the fog, and this was my first time being able to do so!

Giant along the trail

Root series! This is a good example of what I encountered along the trail. Click to make larger.

Eventually the trail began to gain elevation quickly. The path became rockier with more roots, and also, more mud. I think this is the muddiest trail I have ever been on. They were also doing maintenance on the trail, so at one point I had to pass by two workers operating heavy machinery. I can't imagine how long it took them to get that up the trail! 

Simply stunning. Probably one of my favorite pictures I've ever taken in a forest.

As I got closer to the top, there was more mud and standing water in places. The bugs were a bit annoying and I felt like I was constantly swatting them away. It was a little better at the top. I knew I was there when I saw a post designating the summit and the elevation. I saw people standing on an outcropping, so I found a path that led in that direction and joined them.

Panorama - click to make larger!

In the clouds

This is where there would be a view of Howe Sound on a clear day, but there were too many clouds to see much. At one point, the clouds did shift a little and I could see a bit of the sound.

I can see a bit of the water.

One of the most interesting things at the top was the animals. The chipmunks were quite familiar with humans and not at all afraid of us, and they would run around begging for food. They would not hesitate to climb up your leg or try to pull food out of your hands. One girl was having fun feeding them.

There were also a few birds looking for food as well, and they would land on people's outstretched arms. After a few people left, a rather large black bird showed up and began hopping from one rock to another. 

I'd like to come back here on a clear day so that I can get a good view of the sound. The trail was nice and there is the option to continue along it to other points of interest. 

On the way back down from Cypress Mountain, I was able to pull off at a viewpoint and get a couple pictures of Vancouver, since the sun had come out by then. 

Panorama - click to make larger!

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