I recently climbed to the top of Mount Arrowsmith on a sunny September long weekend with my 36-year-old son and his friend.
I wore hiking boots and carried a backpack with snacks and water. I am familiar with mountain tops as I snowboard at Mount Washington and Whistler. I was shocked at the 20 people we came across also attempting to hike the mountain using the Judges route.
Some brought along dogs and one set of parents brought along their 9 year old daughter. Most wore ordinary running shoes and were climbing up the mountain in the mid-afternoon while we were descending taking advantage of direct sunlight to see the cracks and crannies in the heavily shaaded mountain side.
This is not an ordinary hiking trail nor a walk in Cathedral Grove forest.
The TrailPeaks website says the Judges route is the “easiest and quickest route up.” If you are a mountain climber that may be true. For the casual weekend hiker this is not an easy climb.
As with the Grouse Grind and the Squamish Chief, there should be prominent signs warning people about the risks. As with ski trails, there should be some provincial rating of the trail visibly posted. For recreational “hikers” I would label this a black diamond trail particularly near the top. One bad step and you will fall down the precipitous rocky slope.
I lost my balance a few times so I empathize with the “hiker” who had to be carried out by 40 Arrowsmith Search and Rescuers. A shout out to the volunteers but proper signage and more valid information should help educate people about the difference between a hiking trail and climbing a mountain top.