Saint Marks Summit Hike - Sept 2016 - Foggy Trees

Hike to Saint Marks Summit

I haven't been hiking much this year, such is the life with young twins.  I look forward to the day they can join me, but for now the tougher hikes have to be without them.  Since it's now fall, I figured this weekend was one of my last chances to get up into the mountains.  I decided to try Saint Marks Summit, which is close to Vancouver and only 11km so something I could finish before lunch.  I roped my friend Andrew into joining me, and he brought along his great awesome dog Genny. [See previous hikes in Lynn Valley, the Chief, and the Lions.]

The overall route is 11km round trip, and it took us almost exactly two hours to get to the summit.  In total, it was a four hour hike with close to 30 minutes at the summit.  On a clear day, you may want to spend more time at the top, but as you will see from the photos today was not such a day.  Feel free to browse these sites for details on the hike: Trail Peak, Vancouver Trails, Live Trails.  The route to Saint Marks is just part of a longer trail called the Howe Sound Crest trail which will take you past the Lions and eventually Porteau Cove.

My map of the route, it is very well marked, look for the signs and the orange trail markers.

You start off in the Cypress Mountain parking lot, head to the far north of the lot and up towards the chair lifts.  You will stay to the left and look for a route marker saying "Howe Sound Crest Trail".

Saint Marks Summit Hike - Sept 2016 - Trail Head

Saint Marks Summit Hike - Sept 2016 - Howe Sound Crest Trail

Saint Marks Summit Hike - Sept 2016 - Well Marked

For the first half, the trail gains elevation but it's well maintained (and they continue to upgrade this trail).

Saint Marks Summit Hike - Sept 2016 - Genny

Saint Marks Summit Hike - Sept 2016 - Trail and Andrew

Saint Marks Summit Hike - Sept 2016 - Trail

Saint Marks Summit Hike - Sept 2016 - Trail

Eventually though, the upgrades end and the trail becomes more natural.

 

Saint Marks Summit Hike - Sept 2016 - Trail Conditions and Dog

 

Saint Marks Summit Hike - Sept 2016 - Trail Conditions

Saint Marks Summit Hike - Sept 2016 - Genny and Trail

Saint Marks Summit Hike - Sept 2016 - Andrew

Saint Marks Summit Hike - Sept 2016 - Rooty Trail

Can you spot Genny?

Saint Marks Summit Hike - Sept 2016 - Trail Conditions 2

After two hours, you reach the summit.  From other photos I have seen the view is stunning.  For us, we were socked in with heavy cloud cover.

Saint Marks Summit Hike - Sept 2016 - Summit Trail Marker

Saint Marks Summit Hike - Sept 2016 - Foggy Summit

 

Saint Marks Summit Hike - Sept 2016 - Foggy Summit Stump

Saint Marks Summit Hike - Sept 2016 - Cloudy View

A panorama, iPhone vs Nikon

Saint Marks Summit Hike - Sept 2016 - At the Summit - iPhone Panorama

Saint Marks Summit Hike - Sept 2016 - D810 Panorama

Not the easiest descent.  On the way down we passed a yahoo wearing flip flops!  I really couldn't believe he made it as far as he did, and I'm sure his footwear will get destroyed and he will have to complete his journey barefoot.  These are the types of people North Shore Search and Rescue have to go pull down off the mountain.

Saint Marks Summit Hike - Sept 2016 - Andrew and Genny

Probably my favorite photo from the trip.

Saint Marks Summit Hike - Sept 2016 - Foggy Trees

Then the weather started to fog my lens, so I packed it in from that point.

Saint Marks Summit Hike - Sept 2016 - Tree


Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : View & Me

Hiking Stawamus Chief South Peak - Squamish, BC

Last week, I decided to head up to Squamish to hike the south peak of the Stawamus Chief. As with the Lions hike, I'm not going to go into how to get to the trail, etc. There are plenty of sites that can give you good info about the trail: Vancouver Trails, Club Tread, Trail Peak, Live Trails.

I wish I had got a better shot of the rock face, I'll have to do that next time.
Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : Rock Face

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a very popular hike in the area, expect to see at least a few people on the trail and on all of the peaks. The south peak is the most popular and the shortest hike as well. Middle and north peaks are less popular but still see their fair share of hikers. The Chief is not only popular with hikers, but is also a huge draw for climbers who come to challenge themselves on the granite face. I found this interesting video while writing this post: Patagonia climbing ambassador Sonnie Trotter climbed the first free ascent of Cobra Crack (5.14). Props, that is something that I'll never do.

You start your hike in the campground, nice and easy.
Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : Campground

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A map and some info before you start the hike.

Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : Sign

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also a warning. The trail isn't long (about 6Km round trip) but it is steep and if you are unprepared you can get into trouble. I saw some yahoo going up in flip flops!
Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : Warning

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The trail is very well maintained. Kudos to the crew that come out to maintain this for the rest of us, very much appreciated.
Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : Trail start

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sure beats the stair climber at the gym.
Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : Stairs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another sign along the route, very easy to follow as long as you pay attention. There are several of these along the way which will guide you to any of the peaks along with some of the other trails available in the area.
Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : Trail sign

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The trail is quite steep for most of the route.

Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : Trail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Though well maintained, no cake walk and Mr. FlipFlop likely had a fun time in some sections.

Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : Trail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The lower part of the hike is in the forest and the shade makes it easier on a hot day. As you get near the summit, you start to see the sun trickle though.
Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : Trail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are a few ladders on the route, don't see that on most hiking trails.
Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : Ladder

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : Ladder

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A large overhang looms over the trail.
Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : Overhang

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Warning on the trail. As I said before, the area is popular with climbers so do not throw anything over the edge.

Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : Warning

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You know you are reaching the summit when the forest gets thin and the rocky soil yields to solid granite.
Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : Near summit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : Near summit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A chain and ladder help you navigate the grade.
Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : Chain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : Ladder 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Soon after, you start to get rewarded with some great views.
Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : View

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don't get distracted though, one wrong step and you are going over the edge.

Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : Cliff

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now just a scramble to the top.
Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : Scramble

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tough life for trees that live on the summit.

Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : Tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once at the summit, you get a beautiful view of Howe Sound and Squamish.
Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : View

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just like on the Lions hike, this raven took the easy route to the top.

Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : Squamish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can also see the middle peak with a few hikers enjoying the view.
Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : Middle peak

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some hikers coming down from the middle peak.
Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : Middle peak climb

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I ventured to the cliff edge, though didn't spend much time there.
Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : Cliff

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Along with my trusty Nikon I brought up my tripod and f-stop Guru backpack. It's a great pack for a day hike with photo gear.
Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : Gear

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Soon after I arrived, I was joined by a chipmunk.
Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : Chipmunk buddy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We became good buddies after I gave him a couple pumpkin seeds from my trail mix.
Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : Chipmunk buddy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Got any more???

Stawamus Chief - 2012-09-13 - Chipmunk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : Chipmunk buddy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few more views from the top. Can anyone tell me the name of the mountain in the background? Please post in the comments. UPDATE: It is Mount Garibaldi (thanks Jesse).
Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : View

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Me wrecking a perfectly good shot.
Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : View & Me

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A good spot for lunch.
Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : View & Me

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : View

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : View

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : View

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : Tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is a map of my route to the summit tracked using Runkeeper on the iPhone.
Stawamus Chief Hike - Map KML : Google Maps

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While at the top, I also shot a complete panorama which resulted in a 100 megapixel image. If you want to see the full size image check my previous post.
Stawamus Chief Panorama : Sept 13, 2012 : 2048 pixels

 

 

 

 

 

On my way down, I stopped along the creek to take a few photos. I tried some shots with a polarizing filter and a neutral density filter to get longer exposures.

Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : Creek

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : Creek

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, on my way home I topped in at Shannon Falls which is only a few minutes from the Chief. First, an HDR image of the falls, I was hoping it would turn out a little different.
Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : Shannon Falls HDR

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And just a regular shot, but taken with a polarizing filter to get a longer exposure.
Stawamus Chief - South Peak - Squamish BC - 2012-09-13 : Shannon Falls


Stawamus Chief Panorama : Sept 13, 2012 : 2048 pixels

100 Megapixel Nikon D800 Panorama from the Stawamus Chief

Today, I hiked to the top of the south peak of the Stawamus Chief, a popular hike near Squamish, BC. I took a lot of photos including the panorama below. The full size panorama is 22,383x4378 pixels (ok, not 100 megapixels but 98, close enough). Shot with a Nikon D800 and 24-70 f/2.8 lens. The variation of color in the sky is due to the use of a polarizing filter. It helps with contrast but because so much of the sky is visible the angle to the sun changes substantially in the shot from left to right.

First, a small version of the file, 2048 x 401 (0.82 megapixels, 641Kb)
Stawamus Chief Panorama : Sept 13, 2012 : 2048 pixels

 

If you want to see a slightly bigger version, here is a link to a 5000 x 978 (4.89 megapixels, 3.6MB) version of the file. It will open in a new window.
Open the larger file.

Finally, if you really want to download the huge 100 megapixel file (over 80MB) you can do so below. It is a zip file, I didn't want the file to open in the browser. Just download and unzip.
100 megapixel D800 panorama.

The PSD file that created the compressed jpg above is over 1GB in size and that is after I cropped a significant portion of the image from the top and bottom. There will be a lot more photos from this hike posted soon.


Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : the lions

Hiking the Binkert Trail To The Lions

The Lions are two very familiar peaks that can be seen from Vancouver. I have hiked most of the mountains in the immediate Vancouver area but the Lions always looked down on me with a smug look. Every time I looked to the North Shore I could see the twin peaks and I knew I had to get up there one day. On August 18th, five of us decided to make the trek and I was the only Lions virgin in the group.

The trail starts in Lions Bay and is a 16km round trip journey. The elevation gain is 1280m (4200') with some very steep sections you will feel in your legs. This is a strenuous hike and of the hikes I have completed may be second only to Black Tusk in terms of effort.  I would not bring your dog on this trail, there are sections that would not be easy for your four-legged friend and there are some very steep cliffs.  The hike took us about 3.5 hours in each direction, with a one hour break at the top to enjoy the view, eat lunch, and take photos.  For more detail on the trail feel free to check out these links (some include updates on conditions): Vancouver Trails, Club Tread, Trail Peak, Live Trails.

Some photos from the hike.  First, the motley crew ventures out at the start of the day.  The trail is fairly flat and everyone is feeling good.

Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : motley crue

Things begin to get steeper, everyone is still having a good time and chatting.

Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : getting steeper

 

One of the only waterfalls along the route. Not much rain in the area lately and the snow pack is almost gone so it's really just a trickle at this point. Harvey Creek is much bigger with pools large enough for a dip. There is a well built bridge over this creek so you will certainly know when you are there.

Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : waterfall

 

The trail takes a sharp turn up and chatting turns into cursing.
Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : the slog

 

Coming out of the trees, you are finally rewarded with stunning views of Howe Sound.
Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : howe sound views

 

Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : Inuksuk over howe sound

 

The Lions are still looming, a long way to go.
Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : break with lions looming

 

The group taking a breather after a few hours of hard climbing.
Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : group taking a break

 

Back on the trail, hiking turns into scrambling.
Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : the rock scramble

 

And now with snow :)
Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : the rock scramble with snow

 

Near the top of the rock scramble, views are still great and a good motivator.
Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : boulders

 

After a few more tricky sections, you finally reach the ridge and see a full view of the Lions before you.
Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : west lion on left, east lion on the right

 

It was a bit hazy, but the view from the top was truly spectacular. Hard to beat and makes the 3.5 hour climb completely worth it.
Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : view from the lions hike

 

Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : both lions

 

Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : Howe Sound from the Lions

 

Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : amazing view

 

You need to be careful with your footing on the ridge, there are very steep cliffs on both sides. One misstep and you won't be around to tell anyone about it.
Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : view and cliff

 

Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : gap cliff and view

 

Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : Inuksuk and the lions

 

Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : view and cliff 2

 

Up close and personal with the West Lion.
Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : up close and personal with west lion

 

The West Lion towering over Scott and Jason.
Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : west lion looms in the background

 

Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : west lion towers over Scott and Mason

 

It is possible to climb to the top of the West Lion, but only for those with some experience with this type of activity should even attempt it. It is a high consequence climb with no room for error. If you decide to do it, you need to descend down a small cliff (a rope is provided). People here are waiting to climb down.
Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : waiting at rope

 

Once on the West Lion, find the best route up. You can see how steep it is in the photos below.
Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : climb up west lion

 

Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : tiny people on west lion

 

Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : tiny people on west lion 2

 

The hike is popular in the late summer, especially on a nice day. We didn't see many people on the trail, but there were a few at the top.
Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : lions ridge and view

 

Of course, some things didn't have to climb to the top. Cheater :)
Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : Raven on the lions

 

I can imagine life at the top is not easy for any plants or animals that choose to live here.
Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : rough life on the lions

 

Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : both lions

 

Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : east lion

 

Vancouver feels very far away when you are up here.
Lions Binkert Trail Hike Vancouver - 2012-08-18 : Vancouver is far away

 

On the way down, your knees will take a serious beating. The trail through the forest and the gravel road seem to stretch on forever. At the end of the day though, it's an amazing climb and worth the effort for anyone who wants to make the journey.