Mileage: 8 miles RT
Elevation Gain/Highest: 3100/3900+ft (4167ft if you go to the top of the Haystack, a scramble)
Map: Green Trails Mount Si No 174 and Bandera No 206, my GAIA
Favorite Eats After Hike: North Bend Bar and Grill
3/6/2017 This was my second time on Mt. Si, ever, with the first time being in 2005. I like to joke about it; it was a date and the guy was puking by the time we got back to the parking lot. Literally. I think we only had one more date after that. I avoid this trail like the plague, mostly because it is THE most popular hike in Washington State. Maybe only second to Snow Lake. Thank goodness there are SO many other trails…
Anyway, today was supposed to be a simple conditioning hike. Mount Si seems to be the only standard for timing around here and it’s all they keep talking about in my Mountaineers course, how fast you can make it up Si. I woke up today with the idea to get on the trail early and a least make sure I could meet “the standard”. My goal was to make it to the top in under 2 hours (not super fast), with a weighted pack (18lbs, the most I expect to carry on a scramble or my normal total pack weight for a weekend trip), without stopping. Not stopping meant NO PICTURES, which was probably the hardest part of this hike.
It was snowing lightly at the TH and the ground had a fresh coat. There were two cars in the lot and so there were two sets of prints (and a dog) ahead of me. Not bad, but the forecast was snow and rain. All part of my master plan. I set up the trail at 7:29am.
The trail was compact snow with about an inch or two of powder (maybe more like tiny ice pellets) until at least 2500 ft. One set of tracks (with dog) had turned at the Talus Loop so I was down to one person ahead of me there. I took the above picture because I thought I was going to BE FIRST, but they had cut the switchback here up the ridge and the tracks returned shortly thereafter. Darn.
I took the Old Trail up just to see what that was like and the snow was deeper here up the ridge. It was a little tricky because there were a lot of posthole divots in the trail covered with a few inches of snow so you had to be careful where you stepped or else you broke through easily. I was excited to make it out into the open and the first “stop” at 9:14am (1 hr, 45 min) and 3.48 miles. The elevation was about 3867ft and is marked by a talus slope that is where most folks sit and eat lunch with a view of Mt. Rainier. No such luck for me. I continued on up over the boulders, being careful to stay on the trail of boot prints. It was obvious from previous hikers to see that stepping off this would mean postholing, possibly in between the rocks. No Bueno. I also added my microspikes here because there was quite a bit of ice under the snow and I slipped down about 5 feet before giving in and putting them on.
I was soon over by the Snoqualmie Valley Viewpoint at 9:22am. Again, no view but it was actually quite beautiful amongst the snow covered rocks. I wandered a bit here until I realized doing so meant postholing to my waist and not being sure what was under the snow, I made my way back over to the “trail”. I figured it was the most solid place to be up here.
I knew that there was a trail to head over to scramble up the “haystack” so I made my way around the large stone and followed somewhat of a path to the east and then north. I also know you can make your way over to Mt. Teneriffe somewhere around here but that was not on my agenda today. I did, however, find myself at the base of the scramble by a bench and played a bit on the slope. The snow was so powdery that even my spikes had a hard time making traction and I was doing more sliding than anything. I gave up and glissaded down and stopped for a snack. The wind was blowing so I didn’t last long before making my way back.
Now time for a few pictures…this was the “view” of Mount Rainier from the talus field. Isn’t she grand? I clearly (or not so clearly) didn’t need to stay long and was on my way at 10am. I had only seen two other people at this point and had had the top to myself. I was fairly proud of meeting my goal for the day (okay, I took ONE pic on the way up) and looking forward to getting back to the car and onto lunch. This is what most of the trail looks like on the way down…
I must admit that although I prefer not to hike with thousands of people, I had wondered if I would run into any of my hiking friends today, or maybe even someone from Washington Hikers and Climbers. Have I mentioned that at some point this year I have ended up as a moderator on the page? Still no quite sure how that happened…but it sure has been interesting.
Well, my hike today doesn’t end with my time back to the car. At about 2100ft (just above the Talus Loop trail junction), I ran into my hiking friend Lena! I was so excited to see her because we haven’t had a chance to hike together in awhile that I found myself saying, “Looks like I get to hike back up with you.”
So, that is exactly what I did. I was back up at the talus field a little before noon, we sat shortly for a bit (thank goodness I had packed extra food and hadn’t completely dumped all my weight water from my pack). I was also happy that the cardio was much easier going up the second time but my thighs were whining near the end.
Then, it was time for my second return trip down. My poor knees…
On the way back down, the snow had melted off the trail by 1500ft and there were patches of sun. Figures. But there were also a steady stream of folks heading up so I consider it a pretty good trade.
I was back down to the car at 1:20pm or so with almost 10.9 miles and 4733ft of gain. Not bad for a conditioning hike. Disappointed I didn’t have any views, I snapped a picture of the mountain down the road. Not sure visibility improved much, so I felt a little better. And now I can say I’ve been on Mount Si sometime in the last decade.
Editor note: In the nearly impossible chance that said date reads this post and is reminded of puking that day, I will comment that said vomiting may have been more to the large amount of nuts and dried apricots he ate at the top without drinking much water rather than an indicator of his physical fitness level.
Directions: From Seattle, drive I-90 to exit 32. Turn left over the highway onto 436th Ave SE. Follow 436th to its end at SE North Bend Way and turn left. In three-tenths of a mile, turn right onto SE Mt. Si Road and follow it 2.4 miles until you see a large sign for the TH on the left (you will go past the Little Si TH). The parking lot is huge with several sections, if you are lucky you will pass 3 before getting to the one closest to the TH and bathrooms. There are picnic tables and a water spigot. A Discover Pass is required at TH. And because it is a VERY popular TH, you can expect the lot to be patrolled often.