We soon arrived at the Herbert Brook Lean-to, positioned on the northern fringes of the Flowed Lands. The Lean-to is situated just a few tens of feet from the start of the Herbert Brook ascent route of Mount Marshall, and is therefore a perfect place for a quick stop before starting the climb.
Main Channel, Flowed Lands
Shortly before 11 am, we started our climb up the Herbert Brook ascent route to Mt Marshall. Although not an official trail, the route has become much better established over the last ten years, and there was a clearly-packed path for us to follow on this day. There was no recent snow on the branches of the trees, meaning we weren't getting showered with snow.
One of the attractive aspects of the Herbert Brook ascent route is Herbert Brook itself. It is fairly wide and open in its middle section, and the ascent route goes right up its slabs. In the winter it is even better, as a thick snow cover flattens out and/or covers irregularities. Assuming there is a decent amount of snow, this results in a most pleasant bit of snowshoeing.
Herbert Brook Mid-section
Although there was not a huge base of snow, there was enough to support a pretty nice snowshoe track. That, combined with the great work done by some recent climbers, meant we had an easy and enjoyable cruise up most of Herbert Brook. Near the top, the lack of a deep snow base meant that the track we were following occasionally veered off into the forest. I blazed a few new in-the-brook sections to improve the situation.
We could see the faint tracks of a back-country skiier as we ascended Herbert Brook. The tracks went through some pretty tricky sections, full of little drops and fallen trees. Whoever made them was obviously skilled at this sort of thing. I would have fallen countless times and likely have incurred several injuries attempting to do anything like it.
As we neared the summit of Mount Marshall, the snowshoe track we were following angled away from the rapidly narrowing and dwindling Herbert Brook, through a relatively open forest of pine and fir trees. The sun was still brightly shining and there was no wind.
Even though we had been following an obvious and excellent snowshoe track, I had loaded the GPS tracklog of one of my previous Marshall climbs in case the way was not obvious or broken out. I noticed that as we neared the top of Herbert Brook, the track we were following angled away from my tracklog, aiming for the pass between Mount Marshall and a small bump to its north. Furthermore, the track seemed open and free of brush as we hiked along. I recalled from my previous trips that the last bit near the top had been a thrashy bushwhack. This snowshoe track so far seemed to be avoiding that, and so we decided to follow it instead of my track - even though it seemed to be a slightly longer way to the summit.
The snowshoe track continued to follow an open conduit through the thickening forest. In fact, it was so good, I would absolutely think that we were on an official trail if I didn't know otherwise.
The track continued until we were nearly at the height-of-land of the little pass north of Mount Marshall, at which point it made a sharp left-hand turn and began a very steep ascent towards Marshall's summit ridge, about 300 vertical feet above us. Although the path was very steep in spots, it was (a) open and not a bushwhack, and (b) well-packed by previous snowshoers. This meant that we were able to dispatch it in short order, and soon we were standing on Marshall's summit ridge, taking in the excellent views north towards beautiful Mount Iroquois.
We waited for everyone to gather together near the top of the steep stuff, then walked the final minute or two to Mt Marshall's summit sign.
The air temperature was noticeably colder up here than it had been down at Flowed Lands (about 5 degrees C / 9 F colder), and there was a chill wind blowing, so we did not stay long. A few pictures, a few glances at the limited viewpoints, and we headed back down.
Picture stuff on Marshall
Harold and Brian on Marshall
Contemplating Marshall's View