quote:Mt. Dickens (1288m), a relatively low, three-peaked mountain located at the head of the Indian Arm, above the Wigwam Inn, is the most remote North Shore peak that would normally be accessed from the North Shore.
Dac-van said this on his thread regarding two approaches to this minor officially named summit located north of Mount Bishop or west of the head of Indian Arm (above the Wigwam Inn). I didn't have a boat to get me up Indian Arm to try the easier route from that direction but I did have a bike to pedal up the Seymour Valley.
Dickens is part of The Fannin Range. A group of summits that stretch from the Mount Seymour area northwards to end a little east of Sky Pilot/Ledge. I've had a fascination with some of the rarely visited peaks located at the northern end with approaches made from Furry Creek and Stawamus-Indian River Road (sometimes dragging others along) to reach some of these mountains.
Overview of area with the Vicar Lakes Trail in pink/purple.
culater (Vlad) came along on the Bivouac trip and in asking him about Dickens it seemed he always had some kind of excuse to put it off - like wanting to hike other insignificant
mountains like Currie, Duke or even Matier.
With the weather looking promising on Friday I hastily booked the day off and it was a nice change to have a short drive to the trailhead. Parking on Lynn Valley Road next to the General Store I jump on the bike and head over to the Seymour Valley Trailway. A couple other cyclists seen at this early time of day as I cycle along the paved path then down to the gravel old growth trail to the fish hatchery.
Passing that I take the new Bear Island bridge then grind up to the Seymour East Branch Road and go down it a very short way to where the Vicar Lakes Trailhead is. Stashing the bike and related gear I get my pack ready (didn't bring snowshoes) and start up the steep trail towards the aforementioned lakes and Mount Bishop.
It's been nearly 8 years since I last did this trail and it's still in good shape with a couple of trees to crawl under further up. Big thanks to the trail builders and the folks who've been maintaining it the past while (DBlair, Ted Oliver and pafcwoody to name a few). The ropes are all in good shape.
Just before I reach Vicar Lakes I get into continuous snow. Passing the first Lake I lose the trail markers and decide to head straight up to gain the ridge running northwest of Bishop. Going right there I drop a bit and pick up the markers again and follow them up. Faint tracks seen in the snow here too. Snow conditions were good with no postholing but plenty of clouds had now moved into the area.
At Vicar Lakes.
Reaching the shoulder of Bishop (1420m) the drop down to the col between it and the central peak (Deacon) looked steep and tricky. No crampons but I do have my iceaxe so that comes out and I do a careful traverse before a face-in kick step descent to the col. As I'd already done the central peak before (along with Bishop) I decided to traverse it's western slopes over to the col between it and the south (Presbyter) peak.
Snow for this part was a hard crust and partway across I was wishing I'd just gone straight up and over. Eventually though I reach safer terrain and drop down to the col then ascend the 80m or so to reach the summit of Presbyter (a new peak for me) which is about 1490m. An exposed rock made a great seat as I refueled, looked at the map and terrain around me which was fast disappearing as low cloud moved in.
Looking down towards Fannin Lake - it soon disappeared. The Dickens area is top left corner.
I'm now well on the infamous Indian Arm Trail/Route pioneered by Don McPherson. However, with no visibility and a very sketchy map showing the route I wasn't too sure how to get off this peak and down to Fannin Lake. The limited views I had before the clouds moved in showed some pretty steep looking terrain and with snow in abundance - the route markers would not be visible.
Based on this map it looked like I needed to drop down Presbyter's steepish eastern ridge...or somewhere nearby.
That didn't look too promising so I continued along the northern ridge a bit. Still steep drop offs on my right so I went back up to the summit and decided to take my chances on the eastern ridge. After the fact I think the route does go north for a while to then drop down into the bowl leading down to the lake.
Eastern facing snow was quite soft due to sun warming earlier in the day which made things interesting on the steep slopes I negotiated. Again I found myself facing in and kicking steps downward in some areas. One section had an open snow hole along a cliff band so I used some cedars as a handline to get past that to reach a small shoulder.
The eastern ridge continued down but large cliffs blocked the way. A good snowslope dropped down off the ridge northwards into the bowl so I descended that kicking in good steps and trying not to slide too much as those steps would make my life much easier when I return.
Still along way down to Fannin Lake.
I follow some old slide paths for a bit contouring to my left when I can. The topo map shows a steep band of terrain between 1100-1000m so I wanted to avoid that. After some downward side-hilling I leave the slide paths to reach mature forest and after dropping down another steep section which involved hanging on to bushes I pick up the trail markers again.
Back in the forest the markers (metal tags and some flagging) are mostly easy to follow with old snow covering the trail. When the terrain steepened again the snow disappeared with a decent trailbed to follow too. The 1100m elevation area did feature some steep terrain for a short while and one section had ropes to help out.
Below that it was mostly easy going to continue down to the lake (895m) and with the flatter terrain everything was snow covered again. I was not really looking forward to the 600m I'd have to regain on the way back. The route pops out on the western shore of the lake then goes clockwise to it's outflow (crossed on a deteriorating pile of snow that had me punch one leg through) then around to the northern edge to reach the southern ridge of Dickens.
Thumbs up for reaching the lake and not falling in the creek.
Fannin Lake and Creek both drain into Seymour Lake/Watershed.
I lost the markers again for a while around here but the south ridge is obvious and I soon came across them again with the snow also disappearing too and a decent trailbed was again visible. That didn't last for too long as the snow re-appeared but with plenty of markers route finding wasn't difficult and after a while I top out on the south peak of Dickens (around 1250m elevation). From there I got a brief view of the main summit before the clouds came back in.
Mount Dickens in sight finally.
Negotiating one steep section off this peak I drop down to the col then start up easy going terrain to the peak which has one minor steep section just below the summit. I get up that and top out with clouds all around and the gps shows that I'm at the correct elevation. Nearly 6 hours after I got on the bike I can tick off another Fannin Range peak and the only official one left is Mount Eldee.
On top and happy to be here.
The summit area.
I find a bent over young cedar tree to sit down on and take a break plus change my clothing as things were a little chilly and there was a light rain shower happening. Sticking around for a while didn't improve the weather much but I did get a view back towards Presbyter and the route I took off it down to the lake. There are also 2 more lower peaks north of this one then another bump that is higher than Dickens. Somewhere around there is where the Indian Arm Trail drops down towards Indian River/Arm.
Presbyter (Bishop North Peak) with Fannin Lake just visible by the top of the snag left side of picture.
Zoom on the top area. Down the left side to the cliff band then straight down roughly to the bottom centre of shot.
Burwell Lake (below the pass between Burwell and Cathedral) to the west.
Packing up I start to retrace my steps.
Looking back up the final approach to the summit.
I quickly re-ascend the south peak and make my way back down that following the tags and my footprints to reach the lake. A couple of minor sucker windows along the way provided views down towards Indian Arm.
Big zoom on Granite Falls.
Back at the lake and looking up what I've got to re-ascend.
Fannin Lake and a view southwards and blue sky.
I cross Fannin Creek on a bunch of logs at the outflow this time, pause to refill my water bottle then make my way around the lake to then start uphill. Getting to where I had picked up the trail on the descent I stuck with the markers for a while beyond that to see where they would go. Further up it looked like they'd continue towards the northern ridge of Presbyter but I was back in the open again with plenty of snow around and I lost them again.
Cutting left I could contour up and over towards the open slopes below the eastern ridge and pick up my downtrack. This worked out well but I was getting hungry again before I got there so I paused under a small leaning tree to keep out of the mild rain and had some more to eat and drink.
Continuing I crest a rise and spot my tracks which I intersect just below the steep section leading back up to the east ridge of Presbyter.
Fannin Lake below with Dickens far left. My descent route is near right then left lower down and ascent comes up to near left.
Approaching my track intersect with the east ridge rising above.
Thankful that I chose to kick steps downward earlier in the day instead of sliding I can mostly use the indentations to regain the ridge. There I look back up the upper part of it towards the summit but I also take a look at a possible traverse off this ridge southwards over to the Deacon/Presbyter col.
One last look at Fannin Lake and Dickens. The Mount Felix (and Hixon) area at rear behind the lake. The clearcut visible I think was a heli-log operation as there are no roads visible on the satellite view.
A view up the upper east ridge of Presbyter that I descended earlier in the day.
A quick investigation had me content with the drop in to the traverse and I lose a bit of elevation then slowly regain it heading towards the col. A finger of snow stretched up to it but some rocks and trees nearby also looked viable.
On the traverse and a look down towards Indian Arm and the ridgeline which features the eastern part of the trail of the same name. Dilly Dally and Eagle Peak are a couple of bumps at the right end of the ridge.
Looking towards the Deacon/Presbyter col from about halfway through the traverse.
Reaching below the col I ascend to it on a mixture of snow and rock. I'd thought about just going up and over Deacon to avoid the side-hilling past it but the snow had softened up enough that it was easier this time round.
Looking up Presbyter with Dickens the highest bump in the distance on it's right side. The snow covered bump below it is where I started the traverse across snow slopes near right to reach this point.
Western view towards Goat and Crown.
And the route back towards the shoulder of Bishop.
Bishop's northwestern ridge with Vicar Lakes area just visible centre right and a backdrop of peaks including Fromme, Grouse, Dam, The Needles, Goat, Crown, Coliseum and Burwell.
I get over to the col between Bishop and Deacon and decide to head back up my earlier steps followed by the exposed traverse to Bishop's shoulder.
Partway down the northwest ridge of Bishop I pause again for some food and drink happy that all the major uphill is out of the way for the day. Continuing down the ridge I follow the markers this time all the way back to Vicar Lakes and soon spot the flagging marking the trail back down into the Seymour Valley.
The ropes come in handy on some of the steep stuff as I descend quickly to reach the road where I pull my bike out of the bush and change back over to bike shoes and rearrange my pack to hold my boots and other gear.
I ride back down to cross the river then decide to take the paved Seymour dam road instead of the old growth trail. Signs say it's not for public use but it's later in the day and I figure things should be okay. One truck passed me going the other way but didn't stop and I ended up missing the turn off back on to the valley path.
This was fine and I got to see a couple of bears as I biked along to around km3 where I went around a gate/fence when the road/path almost converge. Not far to go now and after a slight incline I'm coasting back down to the buildings and then across Lynn Creek and up to the road where I'm parked.
After putting away the bike and pack I cross the street to the General Store where I buy a chocolate milk which goes down great. Back in my vehicle I'm heading for home enjoying the sun now that I didn't see much of throughout the day. Round trip was just under 12 hours with a cumulative elevation gain of around 2700m and a distance somewhere in the 40km range. The ascent and descent times were almost the same too.
Map of route.
The next day I was still feeling a little beat so I didn't get up to much but a nice stroll around Lost Lagoon in Stanley Park stretched the legs out.
1. Blue Heron looking for lunch.
2. Yellow Irises and the fountain.
3. Red Eared Slider Turtles enjoying the sun.
And regarding the quote I posted at the top of this TR - I would be in agreement with that assessment.