I was digging through an old thumb drive looking for something, and stumbled over one of the two articles that I have had published in a local Magazine, “Trails”, published by the Washington Trails Association.
The article refers to Mt. Si. A 4000 foot mountain with an 8 mile round trip trail, near Northbend Wa.
The fact that it is only 30 minutes from Seattle, has an elevation gain of 3500 feet from trailhead to top, and is accessible (if you know what you are doing) year round. it was the perfect training hike for Mt. Rainier. Over the years I have climbed it over 100 times. Hope you enjoy the article.
Most people in the Puget Sound area that hike have hiked Mt Si. In the spring and summer when the weather is nice, it almost seems like the entire population of the Puget Sound is climbing Si at the same time. Only commuting up the Southcenter hill on Friday afternoon can be slower.
I know there are people who simply will not hike Si because of the crowds. For them, I have some ideas to avoid the masses. Skipping (or even sneaking out of work) on a week day, even the perfect 70 degree day in May, can reward you with the mountain to yourself. Those of us who aren’t afraid to get wet will find very few people on the mountain on rainy days. Even on dry days, getting to the trail head at dawn will at least give you the wilderness serenity for the ascent. You will, most likely, run into people on your descent, but that’s much better than being trapped with a talker all the way up the mountain!
People on the trail aren’t always a bad thing. I use Mt Si to train for whatever big endeavor I have planned for the year. Therefore I have climbed it more times than I can possibly remember. When you do something this many times, the trips all blur together. When I started thinking about writing this, I realized almost all my stories involved people. It’s the people you meet that can make a hike very memorable.
Only on Mt Si, have I met someone walking a ferret on the trail. I can’t imagine how many steps those little legs had to take to get to the top, but the lady aid they were going to make it.
On most trails, people on them know where the trail leads. When I climb the back side of side I am regularly running into people who ask “Where does this trail go?” It truly amazes me how many people honestly don’t know where they are.
Then there is the man I call Sparky. No matter how early I would get to the trailhead, I would run into him on the way back down. He had to have started before dawn. The man was full of energy and felt the need to say everything twice. “”Hello hello!”, “I’m fine I’m fine!” “Great day great day!” Maybe I looked like I was hard of hearing, but his friendliness made even wet days brighter.
Of everyone I met, there are two couples that stick out more than others. One very wet rainy and cold March day I made it to the trailhead before dawn. I took off with my headlamp on as it was still dark. At the one mile mark, I ran into a couple on the way down. They were dressed in cotton sweat shirts and look miserable. I commented, “Wow, you folks must have started early!” She looked like she had been crying and would start again. He didn’t even grunt as they rushed past me. I was thinking to myself they were pretty rude when I almost stepped on the remnants of a huge fire right in the middle of the trail.
No wonder they looked so bedraggled. My assumption is they got stuck up there after dark, and to stay warm they built a huge fire. This didn’t keep them dry, by any means. I forgave them for being a bit rude.
The second couple was on a much nicer day; in fact it was just plain hot! I met them near the top of the more regularly traveled trail. They were completely out of water, and not looking too happy. I was training for a trip up Rainier, and I had a couple of gallons extra. I refilled their two small bottles for them. The lady thanked me very sincerely, but as I walked around the corner, I heard, “HE had enough water! Why didn’t you? It’s a good thing someone was prepared!” I’m pretty sure he did not get lucky that night!
I love to experience nature on my own, but how can you not chuckle at the little old guy in lederhosen and a feather in his cap? I can’t guarantee you will meet people like this if you come out to Mt Si, but I would encourage you to bring your people watching skills as well as your wilderness skills. It will make Mt Si even more enjoyable. See you there!