The Howe Sound Crest Trail - 2021 edition

Two nights on the trail ⛰️☀️

Stepan with the Lions in the background.

Third time on this trail. It’s an absolute beauty, which is probably the main reason I keep coming back every year. This time around I was hiking it with my good friend Stepan. It was his first time on the trail and also his first time backpacking (at least for real), so we planned two nights.

Trail stats

  • It’s a 30km one-way hike, starting from the Cypress parking lot (N 49°23'47", W 123°12'16") to Porteau Cove (N 49°32'42", W 123°14'26").
  • Cumulative elevation gain/loss is approximately 1850m/2600m.
  • Peaks we transversed along the trail: St. Mark’s summit, Unnecessary Mt., Lion’s ridge, James Peak and David Peak & Brunswick Mt.

My trip report from the 2018 and 2020 trips can be found here and here.

We started the hike a bit before 2PM on Friday, at the parking lot at Cypress Mt. Madeleine was an absolute champ for offering to drive us to the starting point😄 She hiked along until St. Marks summit, where we stopped to enjoyed the view and a snack. After saying goodbye to Madeleine, we started the descent to the bottom of Unnecessary Mt. We reached the false summit around 5:45PM and found a great little spot for our tent between the false summit and the first summit of Unnecessary. We ended the evening with a nice cup of hot chocolate with rum🥃

Campsite for the first night.
Campsite for the first night.

We got up around 8AM the next morning. After fetching our food, from the bear hang, we realized that a bird (or maybe a mouse) had eaten almost half of our choco powder! Fortunately it had left the rest of the food alone. But we were still a little sad that we now didn’t have any powder for the rest of the trip. We got moving around 9:30AM, heading for the base of the Lions. We reached the base of the Lions around 11AM.

View towards Vancouver from the Lions.
View towards Vancouver from the Lions.

We agreed to scramble the west Lion, but we somehow missed the turn off. We didn’t want to turn around, so we added the west Lion to our next trip. The sun was now really taking it’s hold on us and we almost ran out of water. Fortunately we found a little snow melt run off, where we could refill some water. We stopped half way up James Peak, found a bit of shade, and cooked some tortellini for lunch. I was a little too excited with the curry, so the tomato soup was quite hot😳

After finishing our lunch, we continued up the scramble towards James Peak. Both James and David Peaks are tough as nails with a heavy backpack! We stopped for a final snack at the summit of David Peak, where we could see our destination, Magnesia Meadows (N 49°28'46", W 123°11'22"). We arrived at the campsite around 4:30PM and got the best spot☺️ We were surprised by the amount of hikers pouring into the campsite after us. I’ve never seen that many people at the meadows, but the campsite is big, so it wasn’t really an issue. Stepan used his new compass to estimate the exact tree the sun would set behind. Let’s just say that he was quite close😀

We got up early, at 6AM, the next morning. We wanted to hike up Brunswick Mt., which we would pass not long after the meadows on our way down to Porteau Cove. We stashed our heavy packs at the intersection of the two trails and spend the next 30min hiking the last ~600m to the summit. We were quite early, so we had the summit to our selves at first.

View towards Vancouver from the summit.
View towards Vancouver from the summit.

We continued the downhill hike towards the first lake (Brunswick Lake), where we had a short rest and a snack. We were getting a bit tired of the granola bars at this point, but we certainly needed the energy. We passed Hanover Lake before reaching our lunch spot at the shore of Deeks Lake. It was very warm now, so we jumped into the lake to cool off a bit. The trail is under the cover of the canopy all the way down to the old logging road, which we really appreciated. We passed a few water falls, and it was obvious that the snow melt, from further up, was still adding a lot of water to the streams running down the slopes.

The last selfi before reaching the parking lot.
The last selfi before reaching the parking lot.

We reached the parking lot, at Porteau Cove, at 3PM. Ashley had agreed to pick us up around 3:30PM and drive us back to the city. We found some shade while we waited for her. Thank you Ashley🥰