As planned, today, instead of saddling up and going for a bike ride, I went hiking in the Cascades for the first time in a VERY long time, The Alarm went off at 5, but it was 5:30 before I got out of bed (Curse you Snooze button!) Thanks to having everything gathered the night before, I was out the door a little after 6.
At 7:30, after one wrong turn in Granite Falls, I was passing this sign.
It was feeling good to be back in the mountains.
Pilchuck is infamous here in the Seattle area. There is a warning sign just past this one explaining the trail is steep, at times hard to follow, and that search and rescue is called out to this trail pretty regularly. I know I myself have heard more than one news story about someone being lost or even dying on this mountain. In spite of this, it’s been on my list for years.
It doesn’t sound that bad when you read about it. It’s a little under 6 miles round trip, and only gains 2200 feet or so of elevation. A cake walk!
And when you start, it seems easy enough, a well made path, a small stream crossing
What’s the big deal?
Well I’ll tell you, later, the trail climbs relentlessly, across granite boulder fields, and some steep switch backs. Yes the photos below is part of the route, you squeeze through the little gap.
I was trudging right along, enjoying myself, but thinking “OK, in my prime I could do 20 minute miles on a mountain, so today, lets see if I can do each one in….” And then, honestly I stopped walking.
In the past, my hikes have been training hikes, working out and getting ready for a bigger mountain. Speed and pack weight mattered! This was NOT one of these. I was here for fun, somewhere I’d never been before and I was seeing things I never had. I needed to experience this!
So, as I was standing there, I took a deep breath, and just smelled the trees around me. It was cool, and fresh, and good. Then I listened. Honest to Pete, there was not a sound to be heard. No cars, planes, water, birds, or wind. It was as if everything paused at that instant to see what I was going to do.
I decided it was a day to look around, see what was to be seen, and have fun… These photos are the direct result of this…
Believe me there are Many MANY more. In fact I had to go back and delete some pictures of the SD card from way back because it got full!
It was when I got here though, it hit me
But I gotta tell you, looking at this, and what I had to cross just be able to see it, the ONLY way you are getting there is on foot. I am lucky enough to be able to still do it and to live somewhere that there is plenty worth walking to! I am not sure why, but I just sat and looked at this for quite a while. Then when I looked up toward the top, I caught a glimpse (through maximum zoom) of the goal of the hike!
I was about halfway there, and feeling good. I had passed three people who were up there for sunrise and heading home, and one other guy, but aside from that I had the mountain to myself. Later I passed a mom and dad, and their two preteens on the way down. They had spent the night in the lookout. How cool is that!
I rounded the last curve, and there it was! (this was taken as I was leaving and the hordes starting arriving)
It is a bit a s steep entry way AFTER you scramble across the rocks.
The views from the top though, I will just share with you a few of the pictures I took.
From on top you get a 360 degree view. I could see every mountain from Rainier to Baker, as well as downtown Seattle 60 miles away. I was told I was VERY lucky to be there on a day like this, as it clouds up a lot. I had the place to myself for about 15 minutes before the hordes started arriving.
As I headed down the trail, I remembered why I like to get to the trail early. There is no exaggeration when I say I passed 30 people who were on the way up to the top. There was going to be a major log jam at the ladder later, but I was done.
I also figured out another reason search and rescue got called up there a lot. I was passing people who were no where near the top, hiking in the hot sun, and their gatorade bottle or even smaller water bottle was empty. They didn’t have a pack, so I know thats all the water they had, yet they were still climbing. It’s a good way to get in trouble in the mountains.
Another guy was in untied, and loose laced hightop basket ball shoes. A slip and fall waiting to happen…
I on the other hand, cruised down the trail, a 2 liter camel back still half full, munching on the PB&Js I packed and just felt good.
I needed a hike. I love my bike, but you have to watch for cars, kids and other riders. Here, I was just able to lean on the trekking poles and just stare in wonder.
I know we might only get 2.5 months of great hiking weather up here, but one day like this, makes up for a couple months of rainy winter.
I had the phone cranking Jimmy Buffett all the way from the trailhead to the house in the car, the perfect ending…
Wait though! Almost forgot. Before I left, I signed the climbing register.