Monday, April 12, 2010

Hiking Mt Si

Last week, I took some days off and tried to find someone to go hiking with me.  The Meetup groups I belong to let me down, so I planned a solo hike up Mount Si.  I knew that it wasn't going to be a really solo hike because Mount Si is one of the most popular hikes in the Cascades near Seattle.  Even on a weekday, I came across at least 10 other hiking parties, one of which I knew through my kids swim team!

Mt Si Route

The trail is well maintained and though its steep, gaining 3200' in 4 miles, is a nice hike.  The Thursday I went it rained and snowed and there was a little sun (yes, that covers a few of the 10 Essentials).  The temperature ranged from 40 - 32 degrees and with the effort climbing the trail, I kept plenty warm.

After the first mile, I was really feeling the burn in my legs.  I've had trekking poles, but had never really liked them.  However, having been asked, "Beau, are you just going to carry those poles strapped to your backpack," I decided that I'd give them a try.  The trekking poles made such a difference.  Just using my arms helped take some load off my legs.

But the real difference was on the way down.  I don't have the greatest knees, but the shock absorbers made such a difference.  I know that if I didn't have the trekking poles and my upper body helping on the way down, I would have had to take it much slower and probably wouldn't have been walking very much the next day.

Snow covered branches

At about 2600', there was snow on the ground, but the trail was still clear (its that popular that just the hikers boots kept the trail clear).  At about 2900', the trail was snow covered, not that much, but enough that at times some yak trax would have been helpful.  Even though it was a lot of hard work, it was very relaxing to walk through the woods in the snow.  It was great to clear my head and decompress from work.


When I got to the top of Mount Si, it was socked in. No view, in fact, no view of the peak and its scramble route.  I moved out of the wind and found a place to warm up my rice and curry lunch.  I changed into a dry shirt and put on my vest and hardshell to stay warm.   I was mostly out of the wind, but it snowed about 1/4" while I was eating, enough to fill in my foot prints.

On the way back down, about 3.5 miles from the trail head I found some car keys.  They were attached to a small swiss army knife so I stuck them in a tree at face level so somebody on the way back down might see them.  I thought about it for a while (and called my Dad for some trail etiquette advice) and the carried them to the trailhead.  So, if you lost a set of keys for a Ford and Subaru, they're stuck in the board at the trailhead.

It took me 3 hours to go up and 2 hours to come back down again, with about 45 minutes for lunch (I got really cold or I would have stayed longer).  Mount Si is one of those hikes people use to train for Mount Rainier and I was quite satisfied that I could hike it in a reasonable time, though I was passed by people in both directions.  But it was a great way to spend a day off!  I'll leave you with this picture of me having fun on my day off.

Stopped for lunch

You can see the rest of the slideshow on Flickr.


Whit said...

I was thinking about hiking it this summer. If I can make it up in under 5 hours I'll be happy. I don't do well with steep.

Beau said...

@Whit it'll be a nice hike in the summer too and there might be a view. Hit me up when you're thinking of going. I really enjoy hiking (and Scout would rather I don't solo hike).

I could just carry more stuff - that would slow me down for sure.