Little Si

This weekend, I finally made it out for a much-needed hike up Little Si. This was my second time doing this particular hike, and it hasn’t disappointed yet! I chose Little Si for a few reasons: it’s relatively short (coming in at a little under 5 miles round trip), the incline is enough to feel like a workout, and all the recent reports indicated the hike was still snow-free. We arrived at the trailhead around 9 AM and managed to snag one of the last 4-5 parking spots in the small, paved lot at the start of the trail (Note: this lot requires a Discover Pass, and the restrooms at the trailhead are still operational). The first section of this hike is steep, but is short and doable even for those somewhat new to hiking. Once the trail evens out, it’s an easy walk through dense forest and huge boulders.

We had a steady drizzle for the first hour or so, but the trees provided enough cover that we hardly needed our hoods. Luckily enough, the weather cleared up by the time we reached the end of the trail—the views at both the viewpoints were well-worth the last steep push. There were only a few other people when we arrived at the top, where we stopped to take pictures and eat. We didn’t use trekking poles on the way down, but for anyone who has issues with their hips or knees, I would highly recommend bringing them. We saw many more hikers on our way back to the parking lot, and when we got back to the trailhead around 11:30 AM, and the lot was completely full—it’s a popular all-season trail!

Mount Si

Similar to Mailbox Peak Old Trail, Mount Si is famous in the I-90 corridor trail guides for being one of the more challenging options for a beautiful day hike. Make sure you bring your Discover Pass if you want to park at the Mount Si trailhead. We did Si on the first weekend over 90° and boy, did we feel it! The journey to the top consists of seemingly endless switchbacks and a 3100+ foot elevation gain, and although it is not nearly as steep as Mailbox, the trail felt much harder in the hot weather. This trail has heavy foot traffic throughout the year, so it was no surprise that we saw hundreds of hikers along the way, many of them training for Rainier by wearing heavy packs (I was so impressed–I’m definitely not quite there yet!). One of the perks of it being such a popular trail is that the path is well-maintained and is easy to follow.

We started off at a steady pace, but by the time we reached the halfway point about 2 miles in, we were sweating and taking lots of breaks. We had only brought about a liter of water each, and about a half mile from the top considered turning back because we were completely out. Luckily for us, we ran into a friend on her way down from the top, and she saved the hike by giving us another half liter! [Sidenote: The day after I hiked Mount Si, I went out to REI and bought a 2.5 liter water bladder, and have been using it for the majority of my hikes since. If you decide to tackle this trail, I highly recommend you bring more fluids than you think you’ll need, especially if it’s a hot day.]Once we got to the end of the trail, we sat down, had lunch, and watched the birds flit around asking for handouts from tired hikers. The views were top notch, and would have been even more spectacular had we braved the rock-climb up to the top of the infamous Haystack.  

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Rattlesnake Mountain

A few weekends back, I decided to take a solo sunrise hike to the top of Rattlesnake Ledge. As I noted in a previous post about this hike, Rattlesnake is an easy 2 mile hike up to the top, so I figured I could getting to the trailhead an hour before the estimated 5:15am sunrise would give me plenty of time. I brought a picnic blanket, lunch and a book, and set off from my apartment at 3:30–since there was almost no traffic to speak of, the drive was much shorter than usual. The main parking lot was gated, so I ended up parking in the limited space next to it. It wasn’t until I reached the map at the start of the trail that I realized I had driven to the Snoqualmie Point side of Rattlesnake, about a 10.5 mile trek from where I wanted to be by sunrise. Since I couldn’t possibly make it there in time, I decided to go for the new trail instead (unlike Rattlesnake Ledge, this side of the mountain requires a Discover Pass, so make sure to hang yours before starting your hike).

I made it to the first viewpoint, Stan’s Overlook, at 2.5 miles in and caught the sunrise–it was gorgeous! The trail was relatively easy and well-maintained, even throughout the forested area. I did get to walk through several spiderwebs on the way up to Grand Prospect, which is 5 miles in and served as my stopping point for the day. I put on sunscreen, set up my blanket and started reading. I didn’t see a soul until around 8am, when a trail runner who was planning on doing the entire 21 miles to and from the Ledge passed by. It was so peaceful here, and although I obviously can’t speak for the entire length of the trail, I would highly recommend Rattlesnake Mountain for an easy day hike, 6.5/10!

 

Mailbox Peak

Since my old housemate (Logan) is moving this week, I decided to send him off in the best way I know how–with a grueling hike through the woods to a ridiculously gorgeous viewpoint. Mailbox Peak (Old Trail) is one standard by which hikers in the PNW are measured, featuring an almost 4000 foot elevation gain in a short 2.5 miles. However, Logan hadn’t been hiking in a while, so we were planning on taking New Trail instead, which is half as steep and twice as long. We left from Kent at 8am sharp and arrived at the trailhead around 9–this hike requires the Discover Pass at the parking lot–and headed up to the trail. We somehow managed to completely misinterpret the map at the bottom and ended up taking Old Trail anyway.

Old Trail is everything they say about hiking Mailbox–it is a steep, poorly maintained (although there are reflective markers on trees along the way), relentless trail with few switchbacks. Despite it being the most challenging hike I’ve done to date, I found it to be much more enjoyable than I was anticipating. It helped that the day started off cool–we walked through a few clouds on the way up–and I can’t imagine doing this particular hike in mid-summer heat.

The majority of Old Trail takes you through a seemingly never-ending wooded area. We definitely got lost a couple of times, since the “trail” is pretty unclear at times, but luckily were eventually able to locate the reflective markers every time. There were quite a few other people taking Old Trail too, so we tried to keep an eye out for hikers who knew where they were going when possible. We played leapfrog with a group of hikers all the way up–in fact, we passed each other so often that we actually learned their names! Continue reading

The Meetup Mix-Up: Coal Creek Falls

In order to fully delve into the craziness that was today, I have to start at the beginning. I downloaded an app called Meetup a while back, which brings together all sorts of people with the same hobbies and interests. I immediately joined several hiking-related groups in the Seattle region, and quickly found a hike I was interested in–an 11.4 mile round-trip trek on Wright Mountain*. The hike is described on wta.com as being “a scramble up a peak near Snow Lake,” which is something I had never done before. The requirements to RSVP included traction (microspikes, crampons, snowshoes, etc.), trekking poles, pants that allow for glissading down snowy slopes, and being in good physical shape. Meeting all but one of these, I signed up and planned on buying snow pants, which I ended up purchasing the day before the hike from a nice lady on Offer Up (Burton DryRides for $80).

Fast-forward to this morning at the Bellevue Park and Ride where I found the crew ready to go. I confirmed it was the Meetup headed to Wright Mountain and we got into our carpool groups, but by the time we arrived at the trailhead, I was certain this group was not headed to Wright Mountain. The person I had asked at the Park and Ride must not have heard me correctly–I was on the wrong trip! I didn’t want to ask my driver to turn back, and I was definitely too late to join the Wright Mountain hike anyway, so I went with it (if you were on today’s SOA Coal Creek Falls Meetup, now you know the real reason my bag was so heavy!). So, if you ever do a hiking meetup, triple check that the hike you’re joining is the correct one. Continue reading