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I finally was able to get out and hike the fourth of the Cypress Mountain summits in my annual pursuit of mountain activations. This year I was a bit later than normal as I was waiting for a cooler day but still without rain. The day finally appeared on the horizon and as the day got closer and the weather remained good, I got ready and set out for the summit come Saturday morning.
I had made the view area in around 2 and a quarter hours on my previous best time so I set my goal of being on the summit by 12:30 and therefore needed to leave the parking lot by around 10. Backing up further I needed to leave the house around 8:30 and to get up at 7:30. All quite doable. Well, my alarm went off at 7:30 and I was up and got all things ready to depart on time at 8:30. Next was Starbucks and then the parking lot. I made great time on the road and arrived at the lot at 9:40. Getting my gear loaded and boots on I was on the trail by 9:50.
It was a lovely coolish morning, ideal for a hike and I was quite enjoying it. I soon was on the trail proper and making good time. There were other hikers around but the excessive crowds that would be here doing the summer months were reduced, so I had the trail to myself for most of the time. I reached the fork with the Christmas Gully trail in around 45 minutes which was around 15 minutes faster than previously. I kept going along the trail through the start of the main ascent where I stopped at the hour point to get a rest and eat a few energy items. Then it was on to the end of the groomed trail.
As I approached the end of the gravelled trail, I saw that the grooming had extended the trail over a short rise and a fair way down the slope. The newly improved trail made a steep slippery section now quite easy. But it stopped too soon and then I had the familiar roots to traverse. The trail remained the same as always up to the steepest section where there were now some newly built stairs. They made getting up the slope much faster. I could see that they had more lumber stowed so it looks like they will be adding more stairs. Before much longer I was arriving at the viewpoint after just over two hours of hiking. It was a new record time for me which I was quite pleased with. I grabbed a few photos before I finished the climb to the actual summit of Saint Marks.
The final short trail is a mere gap in the heather but fairly easy to follow. I started up through the plants knocking off the drops of water as I came to each bush. This time I followed the minor trail all the way to the summit. It was a bit longer than the way I previously have gone but it was an easier route. Once at the top I dropped my pack and rested for a few minutes before setting up the radio. It was only noon so I was a half hour early. I decided to eat a bit before starting my calling. Once the antenna was pointed and I put out my first call I had some quick responses and had the needed four in the long for SOTA. I still wanted more for the Parks program and I kept calling. I managed to work one faint operator who was activating a summit near Mount Baker. He was more of a challenge as the beam needed careful positioning to hear him. After 30 minutes with several breaks to eat I had 15 stations logged which was enough and so I packed up the radio and started back down to the view area.
Once back with the crowds I wandered over to the cliff edge and gathered some more photos. One group asked if I would snap a few photos of them with their phones. The were immigrants from Ireland and were quite enjoying the beauty of the area. After gathering more photos, I started on the return journey. I was making good time back, but my left foot was bothering me a bit and so I opted to take a slightly longer route back which avoided an area of root traversal. I arrived at the car in just over 2 hours of hiking, so my return was about 10 minutes quicker than my climb but I did cover around a kilometer more distance. It was a lovely day on the trail, cool enough to enjoy the outdoors but not too cold. The trail wasn’t overly crowded but still busy. The drive home did have congestion as expected on the highway leading to the iron workers bridge but otherwise it was a decent drive. I pulled into the driveway at 4:59 - the time the navcom predicted when still at the Cypress parking lot! Not a bad estimate at all. Now to plan a few smaller summits for the fall period.