Full photoset here:
With my unexepcted Friday off, I completed the CT version of a hat trick: a loop of Hat Peak, Brunswick Mountain, and Mt. Harvey.
(Ignore the one point on Hat where I lost reception)
Google Earth Birdseye:
Google Earth 3d - The Hat Trick:
Trailhead to Tunnel Bluffs turnoff
I was on the trail at sunrise. Apart from the construction crew at the water treatment thing 5 min up the trail, I didn't see another soul for the entire day. Made quick work of the forstry road switchbacks, and was at the Brunswick/Tunnel Bluffs turnoff in 30 min. Nice flat trail (and dry for a change) to the Brunswick/Hat junction. Magnesia creek flow was low, and it was easy to rock hop across without testing boot waterproofing.
The trail from the Brunswick junction to the Tunnel Bluffs junction is again nice and flat, with the only obstacles being the blowdown intentionally left across the trail at the beginning to deter motorized users.
Tunnel Bluffs turnoff to Hat Peak
If you want to get an idea of the Hat trails, refer to this Google Maps map I think I grabbed from here in a long ago thread:
The first stretch from TB junction continues up the old forestry roads. It's all in great shape and not overgrown, but with a lot of ferns slowly starting to reclaim parts of the trail.
Hat forestry roads:
I should also say that all junctions are very well marked and signed. This trail is very well maintained, I assume by weedWacker and others.
Cube trail reflector (first one I've seen) - bet that shines well from all angles:
Soon enough I hit the junction - left for West Ridge, right for "upper trail". As I understand it, West Ridge is the new trail, and a work in progress. I would highly recommend it. WR starts on an old forestry road, but soon heads into the trees. The very first bit after you leave the road isn't well flagged - angle right and soon you'll see more flagging and extensive trail work. And I mean great trail work - looks like someone (WW?) has spend a lot of time and effort (with a Pulaski I assume?) to switchback a trail up the slope.
Howe Sound from Hat ascent:
Sections of the trail that haven't been worked are generally flagged, but thankfully not on every 2nd tree. Anytime I got a little confused, I just followed the most logical route (since this is a new trail, the trailbed can be somewhat indistinct) and kept my eyes open and would always see flagging off in the distance. The only caution I will give is that on the first scree slope, don't traverse across (as looks the most logical), but swing right and go straight up the slope. There is a single pink flag way up a tree half way up the slope, and you'll soon see some extensive trail work near the top.
Video Panorama - Howe Sound from Climb up Hat Peak
I hit some snow just short of the North Ridge junction, but it wasn't that deep (gaitors not needed) and it was hard and crusty so not slippery. By this time the fog had blown in and I was hiking in the clouds. From the NR junction the trail generally swings up and right, again with pretty good flagging. Apart from one interesting 2m stretch of veggie belay, the trail presented no problem in this area. The higher I got and the snow eventually disappeared.
A somewhat confusing part of the trail has the flagging going straight right (west) across a scree slope. While disconcerning that you lose a bit of altitude, this is how you hook up with the Upper Trail and is the proper route. Once on the Upper Trail it's impossible to get lost - plenty of flagging, and even more bright red paint splotches on the rocks.
This part of the trail gets more scrambly with useful veggie belays, but nothing technical, and no exposure. The higher you climb, the closer you get to the Hat massif, which from this vantage point is an impressive set of cliffs.
I was quite impressed with this Hat trail. Great variety of terrain and some really interesting sections. The most being a sweet traverse below the Hat cliffs via a series of ledges. Well marked by paint (no mistaking where to go), good handholds on the cliff side, a wide ledge and fairly minimal exposure made it fun. I wouldn't want to try it with any snow though.
Video Panorama - Traverse of Hat Peak from West Ridge Ascent Route
Google Earth 3d - Hat Traverse and Summit:
Past this stretch it becomes less ledgey with only the cliffs to your left and no drop offs to your right. Then you come to the crux slab section. As described by weedWacker in my signup thread:
quote:The only technical part of the traverse between Hat and Brunswick is the last 100m under the summit rock face of Hat Peak. It is an easy class 3 scramble when dry, but a rope might be needed if it is snow covered or icy. The crux is about 20m of low angle slab with a bit of exposure. I would rate it a bit easier and a lot less exposed than the first pitch on the West Lion.
Not much to add to that. Angled slab, not too many footholds so you have to smear your boots on the rock for grip. Would NOT want to do it if the rock was at all wet or snowy. Some exposure made it interesting, but if I was able to do it without hesitation it couldn't have been too bad.
Crux slabs (go across and up):
Around the corner from this you join up with the trail that comes up from Hat Pass and it's an easy stroll to the summit.
Video 360 Panorama - Hat Peak Summit
Hanover, Brunswick Lake and Brunswick Lake Emergency Shelter:
Hat Peak summit:
Hat Peak summit register:
Hat Peak summit register memorial:
Hat Peak radio repater:
Hanover and the 2 gullies, from Hat Peak:
Black Tusk from Hat summit:
Brunswick Mountain from Hat Peak:
Hat Peak to Brunswick Mountain
Google Earth 3d - Hat to Brunswick to Harvey:
The clouds and fog were all in Howe Sound, and a wind from the west was pushing it up the side of the mountain. Thankfully, there was an equally strong wind from the east on the other side of the mountain that pushed the clouds off the summit and kept them on their side of the mountain.
Video - In the Clouds
The trail down to Hat Pass isn't all downhill, but most of it is. The trail is well defined, and you are quickly deposited onto the Howe Sound Crest Trail in Hat Pass before it drops down to Brunswick Lake.
HSCT-Hat Peak junction in Hat Pass:
HSCT at Hat Pass:
I knew this path well having visited it around this time last year, and with a short stretch of uphill, I made it to the HST/Brunswick junction.
Google Earth 3d - Standard Brunswick Ascent and Non-Standard Descent:
This is the standard way to climb Brunswick, and the trail is easy to follow. There was a lack of snow, so the steeper bits that climb up to the saddle presented no problem.
Video Panorama - Brunswick Saddle
Route to Brunswick summit from the saddle:
From the saddle to the summit is a fun trail, with only one narrow-ish section and one part that you might call a scramble (it just requires the use of your arms to boost yourself down a 5' bit of rock). As with Hat, the eastern winds kept the western clouds on their side of the mountain.
Old helicopter landing pad on Brunswick:
Brunswick Lake, Hanover Lake and Deeks Lake from Brunswick Mountain:
Video 360 Panorama - Brunswick Mountain Summit
Brunswick Mountain to Magnesia Meadows
On the traverse over to Brunswick summit I had kept my eyes open for a trail or some flagging dropping straight down towards the HSCT/Magnesia Meadows. I'm pretty sure I remember reading an old TR on here that talked about taking such a pass, but I couldn't find it on a quick search on Thursday night, and at any rate I didn't see anything.
Wanting to make this 3 summit loop as loopy as possible (avoiding retracing my steps as much as I could), I decided to just go for it. I checked my topo for what looked like the best route down, and it turned out to be a grassy slope right at that one scrambly bit. This is what it looks like:
It was a pretty good path. For the top half I was able to keep to wide open slopes of grass or small scree, so travel was easy. Had to dodge right or left on occasion to avoid microterrain, but on the whole I was able to avoid any significant terrain traps. The bottom part of this section was a bit of a bushwack, but thankfully there isn't that much of an understory to the forest here, so I was still able to make good time. Without much warning I crashed down onto the HSCT and turned left towards Magnesia Meadows.
HSCT to Magnesia Meadows:
Entering the meadows there were a few stream courses and small tarns, so water is still plentiful there. I was back in the clouds, and I couldn't even see Harvey at this point. The trail and massive rock cairns were easy to see though, and they brought me to the Magnesia Meadows Emergency Shelter, which was to be my last pit stop of the day.
Google Earth 3d - Magnesia Meadows:
Enter Magnesia Meadows:
Video 360 Panorama - Magnesia Meadows
Magnesia Meadows Emergency Shelter:
Brandywine may have summit whisey, but the Magnesia Meadows Emergency Shelter has survival vodka:
Magnesia Meadows to Mt. Harvey
I still couldn't see Harvey with all the clouds. Having examined the area in detail in Google Earth, and having my GPS, I knew it wouldn't be a problem to get to the East Face route. Past the Emergency Shelter I kept on the HSCT as it passed by a tarn, crossed a rock field and turned West along the ridge leading to Harvey.
Magnesia Meadows Tarn:
For the life of me, I'm not sure where the HSCT leaves Magnesia Meadows for the Lions - I didn't see a junction, and the trail I was on started off as HSCT and brought me right to the eastern face of Harvey. Didn't see any sort of turnoff at all
The trail up the east face is well flagged and with a distinct trailbed. Once again, it is lightly scrambly with some nice veggie belays but no exposure to worry about.
Google Earth 3d - Harvey East Face Ascent:
Veggie belay up East Face of Harvey:
Magnesia Meadows from climb up East Face of Harvey:
Under 45 minutes after leaving the shelter, I topped out on Mt. Harvey's summit. Amazingly, the clouds and fog had cleared.
Video 360 Panorama - Mt. Harvey Summit
Howe Sound in the Evening:
Hat and Brunswick - the first 2 from today:
In my pre-route planning, I had hoped to reach this place by sunset - I would be fine hiking Harvey back to the car by headlamp since I had been there a number of times, knew the route well, and it was a distinct well marked trail. As it turns out, I summited with plenty of time to spare. I gave some thought to relaxing up there and waiting for sunset, but I decided if I could do the section in the trees while it was still daylight, I was going to do so.
The standard Harvey route is very popular and has been described in detail elsewhere on here. With the clouds having burned off, I had nice views of the Sound and the Lions to my left.
Lions from Mt. Harvey:
Colours on Harvey's south ridge:
The hike down in the forest got a little dark in places where the canopy grew dense, but I was able to haul ass and make it back to the Lions forestry road without having to use my headlamp.
New Mt. Harvey turnoff sign:
Ended up hiking by headlamp for the last 30 min or so along the switchbacks and made it back to the car about 11 1/4 hours after I had started out.
This was a really cool hike with great varied terrain - I would highly recommend it to those who may be considering. WeedWacker - thanks for all your great work on the Hat trails!
Edit - being Loopy on the Sea to Sky:
(Deeks Peak loop and the Hat Trick loop. I am such a GPS geek.)