High School-Tiger 1 Loop
Wednesday nights in the Spring are a time to get
in conditioning hikes. Once daylight savings time comes, there is enough
time to get in a good hike before sunset. The Monday forecast called for
70 degree temperatures. It looked like a chance for a nice warm hike. By
Wednesday the forecast deteriorated to a cloudy morning and sun by the afternoon.
Not as warm but still nice. David and Gary put together an ambitious trip
for the amount of daylight we would have. It was a loop trip from Issaquah
High School at 160' elevation to the top of West Tiger 1 at 2948'. That is
only 60' lower than Snoqualmie Pass. The distance would be 9 miles with about
3300' elevation gain. The group plans to meet at the trailhead at 5:00. Sunset
would be at 8:20.
One of the nice features of being self-employed is setting
my own schedule. Since I know that Gary and David can blast up a trial at
light speed, I decided to get a little head start on them. I arrived at the
trailhead at 4:35 and low and behold, Gary was already there. It seems that
for the one time in memory I-405 was wide open. He arrived way before he
expected to. Talking with Gary slowed down my departure time and I got started
at 4:47. This gave me about a 15 minute head start. After the first mile
I turned onto the Poo Poo Point trail. In 18 years of hiking Tiger Mountain
this was one of the few trails I had not been on. The trail is well built
and in great shape. At one large creek crossing there is a fairly new massive
bridge. There was only one tree down and a few mud patches on this section
of the trip. I had a great aerobic workout as I did not slow down at all.
I reached the railroad grade, elevation 2000', at 3 miles in exactly one
The next mile took me up to the Tiger Mountain Trail.
The day was gray and only about 52 degrees at the start. So much for the
sunny afternoon. With a good steady climb I was sweating like crazy and comfortable
with only a short sleeve shirt and shorts on. I reached the TMT in only 18
minutes so the fourth mile was actually faster than the average for the first
three. At the TMT I took my first rest stop and drank some water. One minute
later it was time to get moving. My pace was faster than I anticipated and
getting down in daylight seemed possible at this point. I wanted to keep
up a fast pace to see how quickly I could get to the top. I also did not
want to get up there too early and have to spend too much time shivering
while waiting for the others. Speed won out over comfort and I kept up the
pace. A quick jaunt down the TMT and I reached the Hidden Valley Trail. Now
the going became steep. Poles were useful in getting up the steepest section.
From here it was a steep grind to the top. Farther up the ridge I encountered
another example of the Tiger broken tree syndrome. In a variety of places
I have come upon dozens if not hundreds of trees broken in half. In all the
years I have hiked Tiger I have never seen anything like this. These are
not old or diseased trees. They are smaller, flexible trees snapped in two.
Some of these areas are on ridge tops but some are on leeward slopes. The
only thing that makes sense would be a tornado setting down in several spots.
I doubt I'll ever know what caused it.
I came out of the woods inside the antenna farm on top
of Tiger 1, very near the actual summit. By now I was in the clouds. The
wind was blowing enough to make the conditions a little uncomfortable. I
was please to see that the speedsters had not caught up with me. A quick
hike down the road took me to the Hikers Hut, a conical steel building with
several benches inside. It is an ugly building but it was very much appreciated
with the cold wind blowing. I reached the top at 6:38. It took me 1:51 to
cover the 5 miles to the top. About 12 minutes later the others arrived.
Rather than just coming in to let me know they were there, someone had the
great idea to toss a rock at the hut. Inside this metal dome it sounded like
a bomb exploded. The echo was deafening. Needless to say, I was not pleased
with this wake up call.
David and Gary brought along two of their co-workers.
The four of us had "dinner" and prepared for the descent. The way down was
about a mile shorter than the ascent and would bring us back to the high
school with less than a mile of the ascending trail to repeat. It was about
7:05 when we left the hut. The road over to Tiger 2 descends steeply then
regains about 250'. This was the last up hill for the day. On top of Tiger
2 we had the same nonexistent views that we had on top on Tiger 1. We decided
not to go to Tiger 3 and instead took a much nicer trail than the Section
Line coming down from 3. Read that to mean it was steep but not suicidaly
steep. The trail from the TMT to the west side railroad grade was another
section that I had never hiked. To hike two trails on West Tiger Mountain
for the first time, let alone on the same trip, was amazing. The rest of
the way down was just a pleasant hike. The temperature felt about 15 degrees
warmer at the 2000' railroad grade than it was on top of Tiger 1. We reached
the cars at about five minutes after sunset but well before it was dark.
This turned out to be a great workout and a fun way to get out of town in
the middle of the week without going very far.