A combination of pleasant and adventurous trail, encounters with flora and fauna with near panoramic views of surrounding mountains and valleys made this a fantastic hike. This one was on my bucket list since long. Finally when my Himalayan trek friend, Rajesh decided to visit me for Washington hikes, I finalized on this one since I was quite confident with his abilities. I read few trip reports which had mixed reviews on the intimidating trail. The forecast predicted a cloudy morning and intermittent clouds in the afternoon. I was both excited and apprehensive.
We started hiking around 9:30 AM and the first 3.5 miles was completely covered with trees with a gentle grade. We covered this part within 2 hours. We could see the green meadows on Stujack pass and lots of clouds. The wildflowers and birds on the meadows was a delight to watch. The trail from here on would go along a narrow exposed ridge followed by a scramble and a short hike to the summit. Whatever vertigo, scare of height the trip reports had mentioned, I didn’t feel it since it was so cloudy that I couldn’t see all the way to the bottom. I would have preferred the views instead of help from the clouds. Except for 1 or 2 tricky sections, the trail was quite ok and the scramble up was fine too. A hiker on the pass had tipped us that it would be ok (even if it looks intimidating) since the section was blasted with dynamites to make steps. The clouds were with us all the way to the summit. We had taken 3.5 hours to gain 5200 feet covering 5.5 miles. I was already thinking about coming back for the views but things started to look better. The summit section provided intermittent views of surroundings and we had nice time looking at the mountains and valleys around while having Pulao and Poha for lunch. I chose to wait for more time on summit in the hopes of clear weather but it didn’t get much better. So after 70 minutes we started to descend and from then on it was a complete blast with the views. Even though the summit was surrounded with clouds throughout, below sections were clear and we could see the mountains in the far all around. It was just breathtaking near panoramic view. I was so delighted looking at the windy river in the valley, snow capped mountains, jagged pointy peaks and suns rays blasting through the clouds. I captured some photoshperes on my phone and found some interesting campsites on the way. I think we took more time descending this section of the trail compared to going up. The ridge was completely clear now and I could see all the way to the bottom. The pass too provided with light winds and butterflies kind of led the way on the trail which was quite nice too. The final section was in the woods and pleasant as usual. Actually the weather helped us all along providing shade while going up and views while coming down. It was a fantastic day out.
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An action filled misty day where we experienced rains, snow, hailstorms, wind, Sun and rainbow combined with a scramble. I got up at 5:30 AM and had all the time to get ready but guess what did I forget to carry for the hike, my hiking shoes. I realized this in the park and ride while I met the group and since it was a short 6 mile hike and Michael didn’t mention any scrambling or craziness, I thought I could pull it off without my hiking shoes. I was wearing my daily wear shoes which doesn’t have much grip. It was cloudy and the rains started soon as we started driving to the trailhead. We started the hike in rains and first 1.5 miles was on a normal trail. Few sections was very beautiful with the fog and fall colors. The trail was bit wider than usual and I wondered if people mountain biked here. I was thinking that I would have needed my hiking shoes on any other Michael’s hike, but this was ok. I was soon proved wrong when Derek and Michael decided to start exploring alternative route to summit. For the next mile, it was on steep sections with loose mud/gravel with fog, rains and snow. Some sections were on a narrow ridge and it was like Angel’s landing without chains. The fog made it all the more dramatic. I was very careful with my steps and anticipated slips on tricky sections. Sometimes Sun broke out to give us green views all around which reminded me of Western Ghats. Soon cold wind started picking up and by the time we were at the summit it was snowing and it kept getting colder. My gloves were wet and my fingers were nearing to freeze. I had experienced worse, so I knew I could handle and just waited to start descending after lunch and regroup. It was fun group with lots of jokes and almost everyone made it to the summit. Fortunately, descending was not that bad and my shoes held on while descended using branches whenever I could. I was glad to reach the flat part of the trail safely. That was quite an adventure, thankfully there weren’t big rocks to traverse on. We saw mountain bikers on the way back. We finished the hike relatively faster this time and I was back at Seattle by 6:30 PM.
Photos and Video here
I joined meetup people on a scramble to Little Si to watch fireworks from the summit. We started the hike at 6:30 PM and reached the scramble spot. Most of us forked and started with the scramble route. It was nice beginner scramble with not so much exposure. We secured a spot below the summit and waited for fireworks while all of us set up a potluck-buffet. I carried just the dates but few had got a lot of stuff. Fireworks was organized by city of North Bend as part of festival at Mt Si. It started at 9:50 PM and I was surprised that it went on for 30 mins. The most unique experience was listening to the echoes shooting off the surrounding mountains. Then we chose to scramble down and it was more exciting because it was dark. It felt very rugged to see the sights of scramblers on the small cliffs with their headlights on. It was a nice short evening outing.
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It had been a while since I last hiked and I wanted to do one even though there was widespread smoke from Canadian fires. The destination being Hidden Lake Lookout was one other reason. We started at 6:05 AM from Park and Ride and reached trailhead around 8:30 AM. Last few miles trailhead was not paved had many potholes. The organizer didn’t make it to trailhead even after 30 mins, so we left a note and started with the hike. After a mile of shade, the trail is exposed the entire way. Snow made a lot of difference wrt views and we couldn’t see the surrounding mountains much. Bugs troubled us a lot for the first couple of miles. I kept a good pace and hiked conversing with a fellow hiker. We made it the base of the lookout and then something unexpected happened.
A fellow hiker had made it to the lookout and we saw him from the base. We thought he said come straight up scrambling and we started with the scramble. I had heard that there was another route around but I chose scrambling. After few distance everyone except a girl and I chose to take the trail around. I still chose to scramble as I was already half way up. The last 100 feet of the scramble looked doable and I started with it. I got to know the difficulty only when I got close to it. I was climbing on near vertical sections. I was not wearing my usual hiking pants, so that too troubled me a bit. Also, the rocks didn’t look that stable, so I was constantly worried. The girl chose to follow me and I ensured I didn’t launch any rocks over her. I dislodged one huge rock but fortunately, it didn’t start rolling down. I was so glad I made it to the top in one piece. It was extremely scary and stupid of me.
The views from the top was much better than expected with Hidden lake, rocky and snow covered mountains around. The lookout was interesting too. It had a nice bed, books, cards, games and many other stuff. It’s first come first serve and a couple had already claimed it. We spent ample time at the summit and started the descent. I took off and ran most of the switchbacks since I was getting uncomfortable from the heat. Due to a variety of exercises over last few weeks I didn’t get knee pain this time. We then drove to Cascadian farm for ice cream. I chose to Espresso flavor hoping that it would keep me awake for the rest of the drive. But fellow passengers and I had healthy conversations throughout which made it a lot easier to stay awake.
An absolutely fantastic day which included hiking, berries, swimming, scrambling and stunning panoramic views. This event was organized in the memory of a hiker who was with meetup group.
After going on the trail for sometime we took the old trail to Mason lake. This had a huge rockfield which was fun to cross. Then we reached Mason lake and to my surprise, the water wasn’t that cold. I jumped into the water and swam for sometime. Then we left for Mt Defiance where we had awesome panoramic views and did a some scrambling. I could see Mt Adams, Mt Rainier, Glacier peak, Olympic Mountains and tall Seattle buildings. Yesterday I saw Mt. Baker and Shuksan from close. I had a big fall while coming down which could have been serious considering lots of tree branches but fortunately nothing happened. This was one of the best weekends I have ever had.