Mountains are my Prozac

It’s been the warmest October of my life. A handful of leaves blushed into fall colours after a windstorm last week, and there’s a chill in the mornings and a low mist hanging over the ocean that hints at fall, but the days are shirtsleeves warm.

For my birthday we both took the day off work, and made a very last-minute decision to trade up a spa visit for climbing a mountain. There won’t be many more days like this, and we want to make the most of them. We headed for Seymour under a sky so clear it could have been June, not October.

Seymour hike

I know the route up to Seymour peak pretty well. I’ve climbed straight up the wall on snowshoes (and then fallen down it afterwards.) I’ve skirted around the peak to the west on a skin track, and looped up to the top through the gulleys. But I’ve only ever done it in winter, when even the complex terrain beyond the backcountry gate is softened and hidden by a coating of snow.

It was amazingly different. The trail I know so well was completely unfamiliar: rough boulders, logs, little bridges that I had no idea existed beneath the white winter carpet. The wall we climbed and fell down was a forbidding barricade of near-vertical rock; there would be no way to emulate a similar route in the summer without climbing equipment. The face that B and I accidentally skied onto after a wrong turn during a backcountry excursion was equally intimidating, and J gasped when I pointed it out.

Nearing Seymour Peak

The final climb up to the peak was the strangest of all. I’m used to an area of domes and curved gullies; instead I found shattered boulders and steep rock, odd tiny lakes, and one small patch of frozen snow lurking in the shadows. We scrambled up the bare rock to the peak and hugged and laughed at where we found ourselves on a random Wednesday morning in October: under a burning sun, at the place where the sky began.

Seymour Peak views

We debated continuing on to the next peak, but by this point our water supplies were running low in the heat and we had a birthday dinner and champagne cocktails waiting at home. We headed back down, with a brief detour to visit the snow patch so that I could give a nod to Ullr. While my thoughts are very much on the winter to come, the hike cemented my goal to spend more time hiking in the alpine next summer. I love this crazy contrast between summer and winter mountain landscapes, the alternate universe created by the passing of the seasons.

Birthday snow

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