In the spring (the start of my first hiking season in Vancouver), I decided that climbing all the North Shore peaks would be a great introduction the area. Then I looked at a map, and quickly revised that to the dozen or so most popular peaks for starters. With a visit to Crown last Friday, the list is more or less complete, but this is from a few weeks ago.
With fewer days promising nice views, I decided to take the Friday off and complete a convenient 2for1 along the northern HSCT. From Sunset Drive I took the Missing Link and Trudi's trail as an alternative to the slog up the service road, and it was a lot more enjoyable, even thought the trail is not in a great shape. From there it was an uneventful climb to the crest trail, where the real fun begins. A bit of exposure along the ridge, but other than that the traverse is not too bad. I passed a few groups on the way up, and there were more people at the top, but everyone seemed content to hang out along the ridge so I had the true summit to myself. After an hour or so of soaking up the views, it was time to move on.
[The trail up to Brunswick with the west peak ahead - I definitely need a phone upgrade or a camera...]
[The view across the summit ridge to the sound, with Hat Mountain looking inviting on the right. Unrelated: what is the antenna on Hat for?]
[Looking down onto the Deeks Lake system]
The section of the crest trail around Hat Pass looks particularly nice, so I'm looking forward to spending a few more days on it next year. The junction towards Fat Ass/Hat was mostly hidden in the bush, but past that the trail was easy to follow. I enjoy a good scramble, but I'm happiest on steep, narrow trails winding in and out of the trees, and I have to say the trail up and down Hat Mountain is my favorite North Shore hike so far. I'd even argue that the view from Hat is better than from Brunswick, with better angles on both the sound and Deeks valley.
[Hanover and Brunswick from Hat Mountain]
[Howe Sound from Hat Mountain]
Heading down the NW side of Hat was the most enjoyable part: few rocks and roots, mainly just a grassy trail about as steep as it can get. Strangely enough this short section (connecting to the West Ridge trail) is missing from all maps I checked. The trail is definitely less travelled than the one leading to Brunswick, but it's still easy to follow for the most part. It's fairly steep down to a short boulder scree, and from there to the Tunnel Bluff junction the trail follows switchbacks on what look like long-abandoned logging roads reclaimed by the forest. Overall this was a fun (and somewhat demanding) loop that I'd happily do again, but I doubt I'll get to it since there are so many peaks I've yet to visit.
[The trail down from Hat Mountain]
[A bit of fall color in the forest]