Gratuitous mountain view for Mountain Monday – Brunswick and Harvey, a superb double act of Howe Sound summits. Which do you prefer?
Brunswick and Harvey, often mentioned together in conversations about the peaks of the Howe Sound Crest Trail (a backpacking trip I’ve yet to tackle), and two of several tough hikes that begin in Lions Bay. From what I’ve read, Brunswick – being the higher, slightly tougher, and more technical – seems to have the majority mindshare among hikers. I don’t disagree that it’s an impressive peak, and the summit is a fantastic area, but personally I prefer Mt Harvey because the approach is more pleasant (or less unpleasant depending on your point of view!), and I really liked the closer view of the Lions.
Both hikes are hard, involving over 1450 m of elevation gain at an average gradient exceeding 20%. Brunswick has the additional excitement of some scrambling and tricky terrain to negotiate (with some exposure too), whereas Harvey has only a few places near the top where hands are helpful. But for me, the hike up to Brunswick is just awful: over 2 hours of logging road followed by a direct line up the mountain through scrappy second-growth forest. Only once the trail hits the Howe Sound Crest Trail does it become interesting and fun. By comparison, the hike up to Harvey passes through more pleasant forest (even though a lot is second-growth), and winds its way up the steep slope in a more manageable fashion.
Maybe it’s only because I only recently saw the view from Mt Harvey for the first time, but, at least for now, I’ll take the less exciting summit with the more interesting approach!
And that was my 400th post on Instagram. It’s only taken me two years 🙂
Last weekend we were up on one of those peaks; this week we’re happy to admire them from sea level. Howe Sound summits as seen from Deep Bay on Bowen Island.
Much as I wanted to get back up into the mountains this long weekend, part of me just wanted time to kick back and relax and not do battle with traffic getting back into the city. Hence we ended up on Bowen Island for a couple of nights for a bit of relaxation, visiting with friends, and maybe a hike up to Mt Gardner so we didn’t feel totally lazy!
This afternoon, after hanging out at one beach, we ended up back in Snug Cove where we wandered out to the Causeway to look for birds (lots of geese and a few common mergansers) and to take in the view across the water towards the peaks of Howe Sound that we’d seen at much closer quarters only a week ago. If we couldn’t be in the mountains, it was nice to be able to at least look at the mountains 🙂
Coralroot galore along the trail up Mount Harvey – I have never seen so much in bloom before, it was growing everywhere!
I took a lot of coralroot photos on this hike; which turned out to be a good thing as most of them were blurry! Like many small-flowered, err, flowers coralroot is really hard to photograph well. For a start, they’re forest flowers so the light level is always quite low (except for when they’re in a nice sunny patch, like this one). Then being flowers, you have to get down low to capture them, which puts you in an awkward position for holding the camera steady. And since the flowers are small, you have to get quite close which means there’s a risk the camera won’t actually focus on the bit you’re interested in, and the depth of field may be too low for the entire flower to be in focus.
A tripod solves the stability issues, if not necessarily the framing and focus. And using a tripod means you can use a smaller aperture to gain depth of field. But when you’re on the move, it’s already time-consuming to stop and even take a crappy photograph, let alone try and set up the camera properly for a good one. As a result I almost never use a tripod when hiking. And so I end up relying on a scattergun approach – take lots and hope that one will be in focus, and sharp! Thankfully, that was indeed the case, and for more than one flower (or group of flowers) too, so I came away with quite a few good shots.
But I particularly like this photo as it has one single flower perfectly in focus, something I’ve rarely achieved, so I’m happy to say my approach worked – this time!
Still some snow along the ridge towards Mount Harvey. Saturday was a beautiful day to be up high, and the snow was a welcome cooler! Full trip report on LiveTrails.
The last (and only other) time I reached the summit of Mt Harvey, the only view we had was straight up through the clouds to blue sky above. All around us was heavy cloud that refused to lift or burn off. I therefore wanted to wait for a clear day to repeat the long, steep climb, and Saturday was perfect. (Well, nearly: it was probably a bit too hot for hiking, though we were in shade for most of the ascent and there was a nice breeze at the top.) And it was worth the wait: the view is incredible, and I think I prefer it to that from Mt Harvey’s taller neighbour, Brunswick Mountain.
Of course, it was never far from our minds that this was the place where five snowshoers died back in April, and we met a Korean hiking group at the summit who were there to remember their friends. This part of the ridge shows the remnants of some of the cornices that form during the winter, and even though they are a shadow of their former selves, we were careful to ensure we kept well back from their edges.
A view of Mt Harvey and its sheer north face, the site of a heartbreaking tragedy this past weekend where 5 snowshoers died when a cornice collapsed beneath them. My thoughts go out to their families and friends, especially to the surviving member of that group. I’ve often wondered about tackling Mt Harvey in the winter, but I’ve always had those cornices (and my relative inexperience in winter backcountry travel) at the back of my mind, which has always led me to leave it for another day.
My heart sank when I heard that SAR teams had been called out to an incident on Mt Harvey. My immediate thoughts were that someone triggered a cornice collapse and had fallen several hundred metres. Sadly I was right, except it was worse because five people were involved. Perhaps the only reason that the sixth member of the group survived was that they had slowed down on the ascent and reached the summit later than the others. What an awful realization that must be.
A tragic reminder that the local mountains can be as deadly as they are beautiful.
A few pink rays over the Howe Sound peaks
Another perspective on last night’s incredible sunset. As the saying goes, as you’re watching a sunset (or sunrise), don’t forget to look behind you. I really liked the pink rays of cloud over the deep blue cloud-capped peaks along the Howe Sound Crest Trail.