This hike took place on unceded, ancestral territories of the Coast Salish peoples (Squamish Nation, Tsleil-Waututh and Musqeum). This land is currently managed as part of the Provincial Park system at Seymour Provincial Park. Here’s their website with information about this park: http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/parkpgs/mt_seymour/ Here’s some information about the hike itself: https://www.vancouvertrails.com/trails/dog-mountain/
The other morning when I opened the front door a waft of cool, crisp air rushed in. In one breath we knew that the faintest dust of snow sprinkled the tops of the north shore mountains. Immediately we began planning our first ascent to get to snow, anticipating timing an early morning trip up on the weekend we most wanted to be snuggled in bed.
Just a week ago I threw a surprisingly compliant kid in the car and we drove up the Seymour parkway to get in Dog Mountain–one of the more technical trails–before the snow hit. Dog Mountain has always been on my “easy” list: its short, its close to my house, its free access in the summer time and has an incredible view of the lower mainland. Dealing with my anxiety of being a “beginner” I read and reread trail reports, blogs and descriptions hoping to get an understanding of the kind of trail we would head out on and when and if it might be a good time to turn around.
Once we were on the trail and past the nice new gravel trail head we quickly descended into an immensely technical, rooty, rocky and muddy trail. We easily saw a couple hundred people and scrambled up sections of rocks and tree roots. This trail is so overused that wood placed in swampy sections was easily submerged by mud and muck (much to the kid’s delight). My shoe was often stuck between two roots as I stepped sideways to climb up an embankment. The kid and I both tired quickly, even as we pushed past First Lake on to the final views. We hiked for 2.5 hours and a total of 5.25KM return from the trail head to the point.
After the hike we sat out on the grassy outcrop underneath one of the chair lifts looking east up the valley with great, thunderous views of Mt. Baker. We chewed up all of the snacks we had left in the car for our return (pro-tip: leave extra water, sugary snacks and healthy snacks in the car for your return after a longer hike for the car ride home or a post-hike fuel up) and thought about our hike. After taking on trails like Quarry Rock with immense stair systems and bridges, I couldn’t help but bemoan the gutting of the Provincial Park program by the previous (neo)liberal government and the lack of infrastructure such a heavily used trail, like Dog Mountain, could benefit from. This is obviously a deep, political process with many organizations and outdoor associations at the helm. It’s also a reminder that as we use trails we need to pull out our garbage, use the assigned trails and work to maintain them as much as possible.