The big thing I hear nowadays is that there are too many people in the North Shore mountains. Crowds everywhere. I do get that there are definitely places where overcrowding does happen, but for every place there are people, there are ten places without a soul in sight. For this trip, I had plans to loop the Fannin Range with the Coliseum/Burwell range to Zinc/Echo/CN1 and ending at Forks. While I came no where near this success, I am still happy with what I did.
The overall route of my two days.
The zoomed in fun peaks of the trip
Route in pink
Started September 8th, 2020 at 7:10 AM at the Seymour parking lot with my day pass. Of course there were no one there to check it lol. From here, I went up twenty minutes on the trail before I branched off for my first peak of the day - Suicide Bluffs. Considering today is national suicide prevention day, I wanted to say this is an inappropriate name for the peak in my opinion. I'm not sure if there is a good reason for this name but I could see it being painful to be reminded of lost loved ones when even seeing this name on a map. Besides that, the peak was lovely and took 30 minutes to go out and back. Views of Cathedral were beautiful in the distance. Once back on the main trail, I headed up one of the old access roads to below Brockton Point and then got off the main trail again to go for Depencier Bluffs. This was even shorter and took 20 minutes for the out and back. I enjoyed this peak too giving me unique views of the peaks I would do on day 2.
From here it was quick to go up the 3 Seymour peaks - Pump Peak, Tim Jones Peak, and Mount Seymour. I had done these last month for the first time but it was in grey conditions so the views were nice to see. I was concerned to see a bunch of smoke from south of the border overtaking the city and starting to enter the Indian Arm as time kept going by however. From here, you need to drop back down the true summit to the south right before you have to climb up the steep routes. To the west is the trail that heads to Runner, Elsay, and more peaks. Many folks in the bagger challenge have been doing great maintenance on this trail and its very easy to follow now! The trail drops steeply around the west side of Mt Seymour. It climbs a bit up before dropping down all the way to 1100m where you meet the Runner Peak boulder field turnoff. I had done this one last month too so this was not new for me, but after bypassing Runner and going onwards to Elsay, everything else was new.
Boulder Field between Runner and Elsay
Mount Elsay was a nice ascent with a trail going up it that reminded me of ascending Unnecessary from St Marks. The trail climbs relatively steeply and bypasses a trail between the Elsay/Runner col that drops to the Elsay Lake trail on the east. Make sure you don't take this unless you intend to. Quickly after this turnoff, you get to the intersection of the Mount Elsay summit trail, and the Rector/Curate/Vicar ridge trail. I dropped the heavy overnight pack with 6 days of food (lol) and went to the summit. By now, it was getting hot so I was happy to see a healthy tarn on the summit. Beauty views of the lake below and all around - I would definitely do this peak again! I filtered some water, took some photos and went back down. By now, I was 5 hours into the day so I had some lunch and watched some Netflix before continuing.
Summit cairn of Elsay
The next three peaks are uneventful but that's okay. Its a nice treed ridge to follow if you are going to Vicar Lakes, but I would not recommend to continue on unless that's your plan or you are a true peak bagger. The sun was scorching at this point and the smoke was starting to make its way into the air so I went slowly. Rector wasn't bad with decent views, but Curate sucked and was quite far away. Vicar was okay too and the trail down from their to Vicar Lakes was fun! There was a toppled giant yellow cedar snag that took up the whole trail lower down that unfortunately ripped the back part of the backpack, but other than that I was in good spirits. The whole ridge took me 2 hours to complete but I definitely could have moved faster with out the large pack and weather.
Curate - sucks
Vicar Lakes was super nice to see. I had been here before in June but September is the time to be there. I was worried the water levels would be low and it would make it a pond, but it was still healthy and made for a great hang out spot. Had a nap, charged my phone and earbuds, and then made an early dinner. I think I hung out here from 3 to 5:30 before heading up to Mount Bishop. Arrive at the base of Mount Bishop before 7 and set up camp. Was excited to see the smallest little stream running through the meadows (practically not running) but I had already carried up 3 liters of water. Enjoyed the view, got bit by some mosquitos, and went for bed in my lovely tent.
The backpack - Superior Wilderness Designs
Nice view at Vicar Lakes
I was going the next morning by 7:05. I made it to the summit of Bishop at 7:30 and it was gorgeous. I went around to see if I could drop off the south side of Bishop to make it to Klegg Peak. The terrain looked class 4 to say the least so I scrapped that idea pretty quickly and headed down the way I came up. A small path in the heather skirts the north side of Bishop without dropping down the steep cliffs to the north to head between Deacon and Bishop. You then follow the boulders up and drop down the other side of the col to east to Klegg (Clegg). This route was cool as you cross a large boulder field with fantastic views of Indian arm to the east. Once you finish crossing the large and stable boulder field, its a relatively simple ridge walk to Klegg while route finding a bit at the start with some cliffs. There is good flagging in a few parts but other than that just pick your path! Klegg Peak has super steep north side drop off, but an easy ascent from the west. I then saw my next target, an unofficial "peak" of the bagger challenge.
Mount Bishop summit
View of the backside of Bishop. Super beautiful rock!
Klegg / Clegg Peak
Bishop's Bump or BBU should be renamed blueberry bump or bushwhack bump! The downside of this peak is the masses of vegetation, but said vegetation produces some of the best blueberries around. It's also home to some excellent mushrooms of all types (types that I do not know). I endured a particularly heinous bushwhack down but have been through worst. The trail drops to 1100 meters from 1400m, before going back up to 1260 at the summit. The peak is guarded by sheer cliffs and dense bushes, and I was perplexed how the hell the few people a year summit this guy. After some meandering around and a few failed attempts, I found a route that went. The boulder field to the right (south) needs to be crossed before heading into the bush diagonally at 30 degrees to the right. You keep crossing until things look better above you where you use vegetation and trees to pull you up below a cliff. From here, I was stoked to see some fresh flagging which was ironic as this part was easy to get to the summit from here on out. The summit offers unique views overtop of the Indian Arm so I am not surprised it stays in the challenge as it gets people to explore the most remote parts of the North Shore. I followed the flagged route down and ended up spending 4 hours between Klegg Lake, and heading back to camp. Despite being on the summit of BBU by 9:30, I had decided I didn't have it in me to get to Mount Dickens that day. By the time I got back to camp, I had watched a couple movies and was feeling unmotivated. I made the decision to go home and to not do the rest of the route.
The steep bush/cliffs guarding BBU from the west
Found my way up this
The summit cairn
The lovely views to the south east in the Indian Arm
Klegg Lake! I scared a heron when I showed up which was odd at such a high elevation and no fish in the lake.
The bears need some water too!
Views crossing Seymour
Back to the pickup from my girlfriend!
In some ways, it felt like I had fully given up. But to be true, I just wanted to do it with friends. After a day of Chinese food and cold water, I am happy I made the decision. I'll be back soon. I ended up not seeing anyone until I hit the demonstration forest, so now you can follow a similar route if you want some alone time in the woods.
PS. I arguably was more tired by descending to the Seymour Valley and walking 13.2 km back to End of the Line on concrete than if I had done Dickens! Road walking is tough and the recent most infestation sucked at night with the headlamp. Felt like I was in a blizzard of bugs.