usually hike up Mt. Washington
about once a year. Earlier in the year I made a first trip up via the
Creek Trail. That was a loop
coming down the Mt. Washington
Trail. This day I was up for the usual trail. I did not get a real
early start. I pulled into the lot off I-90 exit 38 at 8:50 am. There
were already 7 or 8 cars in the lot. It was in the mid 30s as I headed
out. I made a quick climb to the old railroad grade where I met three
other hikers. The turnoff for Mt. Washington is still not signed though
there is a cairn marking the start. The others headed into the forest
just ahead of me. I stopped for several photos and never did catch up
with them. That was alright. I had near total solitude on the way up.
There had been a lot of rain the past week. By and large the trail was
not that wet. All the creeks were running but were easy to get across.
Very little water ran down the trail. The rocky old road/trail was wet
and as slippery as ever. I soon passed a group of half a dozen and a
little later another half a dozen. I believe they were all one group.
The all seemed to be having a good time on this cold morning. I stopped
for a short break at the Owl Hike viewpoint. No views this morning. I
could see about 100' into the sea of white. On the drive in Mt. Si and
Mt. Teneriffe were in the clear. The top of Mt. Washington was cloudy.
If anything, Washington now seemed to be even more cloudy.
Just after the Owl Hike spot I found a little bit of snow on the side
of the trail. This was at around 3000'. The trail remained bare for
another half mile or so. Washington Creek was running fast but I had no
problem rock hopping across. The route climbs an especially rocky
section before breaking out into the open. Here is where the snow now
mostly covered the ground. Still no views but no wind either. The lack
of wind all day made the for comfortable hiking. After recrossing the
creek the trail is a creek for a short distance. I was able to dry out
about 60' of trail by routing the water into the ditch alongside.
When I reached the small pond it was full of water. I have seen it in
the summer when it is dry. I was glad to get off old road and onto
built trail. Much easier on my feet. The snow must have fallen very
recently as the only tracks I could see where the threesome ahead of
me. The trees were thoroughly flocked in the new snow. It was never
more than 2-3 inches deep but the trees were very white. A real nice
winter look without any traction or snowshoe needs.
When I reached the north ridge the views were still non existent. I
could still only see a very short distance. Back into forest for the
traverse up to the old road spur. From there the way is more in the
open as the trail switchbacks up to the summit ridge. I had hoped that
by going a little slower the clouds might have cleared near the summit.
It was not to be. On the summit ridge I still had almost no views. I
could almost see blue overhead but not quite. On the last short part to
the top I met the threesome heading down. I would have the summit to
myself. It was about 34 degrees on top but there was still very little
wind. With a puffy layer on it was comfortable.
I had a quick lunch and waited for a break in the clouds. I arrived on
top at 11:20 am. I stayed for about 20 minutes. By then it
was time to head down. I quickly dropped to the old road. There were
now a few patches of blue overhead. Should I head back up? No, it was
time to continue down. On the traverse to the north ridge I began to
run into the big group. The trail is very narrow along there. It made
for some interesting passing. The next good viewpoint is at the North
Ridge. When I arrived there was some blue. I could see Little Si and to
the west. Mts. Si and Teneriffe were buried in what looked like a
mushroom cloud. For the rest of the day the cloud formations were among
the best views.
I continued down periodically meeting more folks coming up. Considering
the lack of rain on a weekend I was surprised to see so few folks. I
saw about 6 or 7 groups heading up. The rest of the hike down was
uneventful. I did feel all the pounding of my knees later that night.
It can be a painful descent. Once back on the railroad grade I chose to
add a little extra mileage. I headed up the grade. Mailbox Peak was now
mostly out of the clouds. The peaks farther up the valley were more
cloudy. There was plenty of blue sky overhead. it would have been nice
to be in the sunshine but the grade along the south side of the valley
never does see much if any sun this time of year. It was still very
Looking down to the SF Snoqualmie River Valley below me there was a
layer of fog/clouds. Bits of trees poked through the wall of white
leaving a very nice view. Probably the best views of the day. I went
beyond the Change Creek Trail then turned around. I was back at the car
around 2:40 pm. Still early though only two hours before dark. This
turned out to be a very good hike. I had a lot of solitude and the
summit to myself. There was enough snow to cover the trees and trail
but not to impede travel. Cold but dry with little wind. Very nice
conditions overall. Mt. Washington is a good workout and not far from
town. A good hike to hit once or twice a year.
Click on thumbnails to get
Onto The Grade
Owl Spot View
Snowy Trees Above
Snow Now On Trail
Ridge In Clouds
Snowier Near Ridge
Into Dark Forest
The Great Wall
Blue & White
Sun On Trail
Framed By Clouds
Clouds In Valley