Only a 50-minute drive from Vancouver and a 1.5-hour hike up a mountain, I was sliding on slick ice and crunching through frost-crusted snow.

In October.

photoAlison Karlene Hodgins

For a good chunk of Canadians, this might not seem so impressive. Growing up in Alberta, we typically had snow on our lawn by the end of September. As a kid, my Halloween costume always had to fit over a snowsuit.

Now, as an adult living in Vancouver, I chose the morning after my own Halloween party to hike a mountain in search of snow. To my surprise, I found it.

I had a secret reason for seeking the cold white stuff, and it wasn’t childhood nostalgia: I had a new pair of hiking boots to test out.

Merrell's Thermo Freeze Mid Waterproof have Vibram® Arctic Grip outsoles for traction in slippery conditions. With them on my feet, and my boyfriend and a friend by my side, I ventured to First Pump on Mount Seymour.

Trekking to First Pump, Mount Seymour

Mount Seymour’s ski hill boasts a succession of three peaks that are stunning to trek in the summer and fall. The Dog Mountain trail is a flatter, shorter option for hikers with only a couple of hours to spare. All trails yield panoramic views of the city and scenery on clear days. My group decided to tackle the first peak, also known as "Pump Peak," on a crisp autumn afternoon.

The trail started innocuously enough. Pebbles scattered beneath our feet, wet and slippery from a trickling stream. “I wouldn’t want to hike this in spring, with all the snow melt,” my friend noted.

photoAlison Karlene Hodgins

Coming to a wide, gravel road, we merged with other hikers, some already on their downhill jaunt. Avoiding a steep hill to the right, we continued along the middle track past a frozen pond, then turned left and hiked alongside a small building.

That’s when it started to get really icy.

I pulled out my collapsible hiking pole to balance myself as I carefully maneuvered over glassy rocks. “There’s snow!” I shouted to my companions, initially excited to have detected a small patch. I danced over it with my new boots.

photoAlison Karlene Hodgins

A few minutes later, I was no longer celebrating the snow. My group moved slowly and steadily, offering hands and taking them when needed to balance over the less-than-prime conditions.

There were a few, brief seconds when I doubted if we should continue. But we pushed on, and soon arrived at the summit of Pump Peak. Families lounged on the grey rock, nibbling on picnics and chatting with each other. I followed my hiking buddies a little farther to an exposed section with no one else around. We sat in the sun and soaked in the view, listening to Whiskey Jacks flutter in the evergreen trees. Beyond the other ranges, Mount Baker protruded like a castle in the clouds.

Despite the icy conditions, we managed to hike the trail in less than three hours round-trip. Although it was icy and slightly scary at times, I’m glad I brought along my companions—including my new boots.

photoAlison Karlene Hodgins




This article was sponsored by Merrell