In memories of Easters past, there will always be one, for me, that stands out from the rest. Most recollections of this holiday are marked by the gathering of families and friends, feasting on turkey, and catching up on everyone’s trials and tribulations. Then, however, there was Good Friday of 2006, and the day that was spent climbing Mt. Bishop in the North Shore Mountains.
The weather had been variable that week, with days of sunshine interspersed with others of torrential rain. That’s typical of life here in southwestern British Columbia, where an April day can be as unpredictable as it is breathtaking.
Doug and I had made plans to tackle the mountain with a reasonably early start, with the idea that we might have adequate time to do some required trail maintenance along the way. We arrived at the trailhead at roughly 8 am, and early morning cloud had given way to blue skies. It was a welcome excursion for us both, life had been stressful of late and time in the hills had been in short supply.
As winter conditions were expected in the alpine, we packed ice axes, crampons, and snowshoes just in case. The trek began with a stroll through a grove of ancient cedars, which we had both seen a number of times. I never get over the novelty of west coast hikes, truth be told, and I’m one of those hikers that enjoys a repeat visit to any location. There is always something different to accompany the familiar, so to speak.
Trail conditions were excellent, though we did remove some deadfall and rocks, repair some ropes, and improve marking in some sections. North Shore Rescue uses the Bishop Trail as an evacuation route on occasion, and so it’s important that the route stays in good shape.
Surprisingly, no snow was encountered until reaching nearly a thousand metres in elevation and we stood on the shores of Vicar Lake in just an hour and a half. It was a cinch to walk across the still frozen lake and soon we were making for the alpine, with only four hundred metres to climb before reaching the summit.
As we broke into the clear on the ridge, we had a chance to witness something very peculiar. Heavy rains had formed deep runnels in the surface snowpack, giving it a grooved appearance. This is something you rarely see, and when you do it is usually under similar spring conditions. All of that made for interesting scenery as we made our way up the ridge.
In another thirty minutes we crested the high point of Mt Bishop and enjoyed some lunch, more sunshine, and spectacular views with very few clouds. It was as idyllic an April day as I’ve seen! On the way down we took turns doing some extra glissading before hiking back to the trailhead again for beers. It really had been a good Friday on Good Friday, better than good, in fact.
Here are a few more views taken at the summit. On a clear day it’s a beautiful place to be!
Happy Easter to you all, I hope you enjoyed the read!