Hiking postsSaturday August 10, 2013
Above the Clouds on Granite Mountain
“Writing is of use to the psyche only if the writer discovers something he did not know he knew in the act itself of writing.”
-- Norman Mailer, “The Presidential Papers of Norman Mailer,” pg. 219
I read that quote early this morning while I was contemplating a hike up Granite Mountain. I'd planned on the hike but woke up to see a different weather report. Rain? Thunderstorms? Possibly? I decided to drive out to the trailhead, see what it was like. At worst, I'd just turn around and come back.
Norman was big on the journey without a known destination. He was anti-repetition. I kept thinking about that in the early stages of the hike. I was on a hike whose ending was known to me—I'd done it two or three times over the years—but today I didn't know what I would find. Would the weather turn bad? Would I have to turn back?
About a third of the way up, I came upon a clearing with blue skies peeking through and inwardly rejoiced. A second later, the switchback switched back, and when I came out on the woods on the other side we were socked in again.
Then I noticed the wildflowers. They looked beautiful with the sun filtering through the condensed air.
The wildflowers were even more out when I left the woods completely and scaled up the south side of the mountain.
Off and on, we were still socked in. I worried there would be no view. But near the top, before the final ascent to the lookout tower, I got above the clouds and could see the Cascades, clearer than normal on a late summer day.
And by the time I got the top, well, no complaints.
Here's to not knowing what the end will look like.
Mt. Rainier from Mt. Si
My friend Ben and I hiked up Mt. Si today on one of the hotter days of the year in the Pac NW. I was looking for a good hike with a view that was less than 4500 feet, since that's where the snow line is right now, but maybe 8 miles roundtrip with 3,000 feet elevation gain isn't a good hike to inaugurate the year. I'm still feeling it. The top had swarms of dark black bugs that hurt when they bit. Anyone know what they are? Crowded trail, of course, with a few runners. One guy passed us going up (as we were going up), then passed us going down (as we were going up), then passed us going up again (as we were going down). That's commitment. Or something.
In the end, not bad for a couple of 50-somethings.
Rainier from Si.
Me on Si.
First Hike of the Season: Lake 22
Beautiful weather today in Seattle—81 degrees right now, which is insane for this time of year—so Patricia and I took advantage by hiking up to Lake 22 off the Mountain Loop Highway. Well, not all the way to Lake 22. After 90 minutes or so, we ran into one patch of snow, then a second, then a lot. We stopped at a lot—I'm guessing about a half mile from the lake. Maybe those who hiked all the way know.
Nice hike, though. The mountain streams and waterfalls are flush with clear spring runoff. You'd get near one of those waterfalls and the temperature would drop 10 degrees.
Patricia on the long bridge.
Mt. Pilchuck: Breathtaking Twice
I was going to call this post “Rocky Horror Pilchuck Show,” since, as I was climbing Mt. Pilchuck on this glorious, glorious fall day, there was a couple ahead of me, then behind me, whom I couldn't shake (I kept stopping to take pictures), and whose male half kept droning on and on. About nothing. In a loud baritone. It was like being pursued by the Bore-anator. That same kind of calm, plodding persistence.
But eventually I did shake them and forgot about them amidst the beauty of the hike and the fall colors.
Here's a video from the summit. The Cascade mountains were clearer to the north than the south. I filmed it from the rock on which I was eating lunch.
One day I'll figure out how to make better movies.
Here are some of the fall colors:
Granite Mountain Redux (Redux)
It was blue skies and 80s in the Pacific Northwest today so I did one of my favorite hikes, Granite Mountain, about 40 minutes east of Seattle on I-90. It's a pretty difficult hike—4 miles one way, 3800 feet elevation gain—and I've had health issues recently, but it was a great day. Much of the hike is along southern exposure, so once you're out of the woods, halfway through, you definitely get some heat. You also get a gradual view of Mt. Rainier. Going up, it's kind of like Rainier-rise: there's a bit of it, then more, then more. When you reach the cabin outpost at the top, on a good day, you've got a clear view:
iPhone cameras don't do it justice.
On the way down, it's Rainer-set: a little less, a little less. By that point, of course, you want it to go away so you'll be closer to the shade of the woods. Southern exposures can be brutal. At the same time, as with all loves, it's tough to say good-bye to Rainier. And as with all loves, your love doesn't care.
The outpost, by the way, is a functioning outpost, run, this day, by Bob, a former Washington Trails Association member, who, five years ago, became a volunteer USFS member. He spends weekends, June to September, on Granite Mountain. This outpost is apparently the third one built on Granite Mt. The first was a cabin, built around 1912. The second was a cabin with a cupola for viewing in the 1920s. “Like a lighthouse?” I asked. “Yes,” he said. Then in the 1950s, they decided to combine cabin and cupola and put the entire thing on stilts. That's how we got what we got. Which I love. In the photos below, Bob is the right-most photo, the right-most person:
My first trip to Granite Mountain was two years ago.
Last year I did it again with video.
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