Distance: 16.5 km
Elevation gain: 950 m View map Download GPS track
Earlier this month I thoroughly enjoyed a scramble up Mount Howard
, a hike I didn’t expect to be so pleasant given the fact that it involved over 10 km of travel on flood-damaged riverbed. Today I thought I’d repeat the experience by scrambling up Mount Bryant, the peak just to the north of Mount Howard and whose colorful and sheer cliffs I’d admired for much of the Mount Howard trip.
As with the last trip I started early, beginning at 7:30 am and hiking quickly up Canyon Creek to warm up in the cool of the morning. It didn’t take long to reach the side creek that leads to Bryant Lake and the ascent route of Mount Bryant, and for a short while the going remained easy along undamaged flats bordering the creek. This ended when the valley narrowed and forced me down into the creekbed, and while I was regularly able to escape to sections of trail that had survived the flood, the trail repeatedly crossed the creekbed and I soon tired of stumbling through the rubble. This was in stark contrast to hiking up Canyon Creek on the Mount Howard trip, in which the plod along the rubble was relatively effortless and oddly agreeable.
After 5.5 km of travel I saw flagging marking a trail leading up the steep creek bank towards Bryant Lake and happily scrambled my way up the steep bank and out of the rubble. I followed the trail to the lovely meadows above Bryant Lake, but instead of descending a short distance to the lake to head up Mount Bryant via the easiest route, I decided to try a more direct route through some crumbling cliff bands. From a distance they looked a bit much for me, but I figured it was worth a try and if it didn’t pan out I could just side-hill my way to the easier route up.
While I’m pretty sure I could’ve scrambled up the first cliff band, I wasn’t confident I could get up the second or back down the first (which would have put me in a rather bad situation!) and so decided to head for the standard route. This turned out to be very easy as the terrain was level just below the cliff band and I soon found myself resuming the steep ascent where the cliff bands had nearly disintegrated. Unfortunately the chunky rubble was terrible to ascend (and descend) and had a tendency to collapse at the most inopportune of times, but it was technically easy and that’s the kind of scramble I like (because I can do them!).
Thankfully the wonderful summit views made up for the tedium of the ascent, and like my earlier ascent of Mount Howard they were unexpectedly expansive. There was a nice register too, and while I was too cold by that time to flip through the whole thing, I couldn’t help but notice that there were an unusually high percentage of solo ascents. My first thought at this observation? “I guess friends don’t let friends scramble Mount Bryant”! It really isn’t a pleasant scramble and with the higher and far superior Mount Howard immediately to the south, I’d suggest Mount Bryant be a distant second choice.
Too cold to eat on the summit, I descended to Bryant Lake and had a nice lunch in the sun by the shore, then headed back to the truck, passing a group of four campers heading to the lake for the night. This wasn’t perhaps the nicest trip, but it was still great to get out!