Mt. Washington

I usually hike up Mt. Washington about once a year. Earlier in the year I made a first trip up via the Change 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 chilly.

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.

Onto The Grade
Owl Spot View
Mossy Rocks
Washington Creek
Snowy Trees Above
Snow Now On Trail
Snowy Highlights
The Pond
Forest Canyon
Ridge In Clouds
Snowier Near Ridge
Into Dark Forest
Summit Ridge
The Summit
Heading Down
Blue Sky
Mushroom Cloud
Puffy Clouds
The Great Wall
Blue & White
Sun On Trail
Framed By Clouds
Mailbox Peak
Clouds In Valley
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2014