Tiger Mountain New Years Eve

My oldest tradition is hiking on Tiger Mountain New Year's Eve. Back in 1983 I first hiked up West Tiger 3 on the last day of the year. Since then I have only missed one December 31 hike on Tiger. This would be my 34th trip in the past 35 years. This year John was available to join me. The forecast talked about 23 mph wind gusts from the southeast. At the last minute we chose a route up the west side and down the north side. Hopefully the wind would not be a problem. When it blows hard trees and branches fall down. Not a risk we wanted to take. We met at High Point off I-90 at 8:00 am. I then drove through Issaquah to the Chirico Trailhead. The lot was about half full with more cars arriving. I had not been on the trail since the trail was moved north away from the middle of the grassy field. It was clear in Seattle but a dense fog covered the valleys to the east. John was in the fog all the way to the trailhead coming from the south. It was cool but not sub freezing at the start.

I did a 9 mile trip the day before on Grand Ridge and was not up for a fast ascent. John kept is speed down to my level. Some folks were already on the way down as we headed up. One mentioned the great views from Poo Poo Point. It sounded like we would soon be above the cold fog. We climbed into the clear at the spot on the trail where Mt. Rainier first comes into view. We popped out of the forest at the lower paraglider take off spot to find bright sunshine and pretty good views. Down below us was the top of the fog layer. It covered most everything to the south of us. We stopped for photos. Mt. Rainier had some interesting small clouds around it. Mostly the sky was bright blue. The sun is so low this time of year that our shadows were really long.

We went back into forest for the short climb to the upper take off spot. It was mostly in shade and much colder. Great views out. Squak and Cougar Mountains looked like islands in a sea of white fog. Mt. Baker was white with fresh snow. It was cloud free. We took another break for photos. It would be a while before we came out of the forest after this. We stopped at the new bathrooms then headed down the old road. It was very cold along there. Frost was still very evident. We were glad when we started uphill once again. More work but it allowed us to warm up. Up to the One View Trail and on to the Tiger Mountain Trail. A right there over to the Hidden Forest Trail. A short climb brought us to the road and the start of the Poo Top Trail. I expected we would reach the snow level at this point. I was very wrong. After recent snowfall there was rain and it washed away nearly all the snow on Tiger Mountain. We saw only patches all day.

The Poo Top seemed to go on and on until we finally reached the top of West Tiger 1 at just over 2900'. I suggested a short detour down the road to one of the few viewpoints still in existence on the close in peaks. Many viewpoints have slowly been closed out by growing trees. Not long ago there were great views from Tiger 3. Now they are all gone. Recent timber cuts have opened up views from the eastern most towers on Tiger 1. Views and more sunshine. It was much warmer. We could see Mt. Si and everything to the north of us. We had another good look at Mt. Baker. Even the Olympics were in the clear to the west.

After that we headed back to the summit and down to the Bypass Trail. A few minutes later we came out of forest at the Hiker's Hut viewpoint. There was a little breeze here but nowhere close to the forecast. Light enough to sit on the bench and enjoy sunshine and views. We had a lot of solitude between Poo Poo Point and Tiger 1. We did see some folks at the Hiker's Hut. Time for lunch and more photos. The camp robber jays were especially aggressive. The walked right up to our feet looking for handouts. We now had about 2800' of elevation gain done. Only about 400' more to go. We dropped down the road and climbed up to Tiger 2. that accounted for most of the elevation gain left.

From Tiger 2 it is almost all downhill. On my hike the day before at Grand Ridge, just to the north, I saw a lot of branches blown off trees and onto the trail. I expected many trees and branches to be down on our route. We did not find that to be true. John brought a small folding saw and we did put it to use several times. We also managed to manhandle several more trees off the trail. About half a dozen step over trees were removed from the trails. Especially nice since we hike these trails by headlamp on winter evenings. I'm not sure if it was the afternoon Seahawks game or preparations for New Year's Eve but we did not see many people on the trails this day. As we dropped down we again entered the fog zone. The temperature plummeted as we did. Even after 1:00 pm the fog remained. John noticed some interesting fungi on several trees in the last mile. More photo stops. I had heard that the tent city had recently moved and it seemed strange to not hike by. They had been there for more than a year.

We arrived back at John's car at 1:30 pm. A nice 9 mile one way hike with 3200' of elevation gain. Statistics that are quite close to hiking up Mt. Si but with hundreds less other hikers to see.  The drive back to my car went fast. The crowds at the Chirico Trailhead were crazy. We had to wait a while to turn into the lot. Then we waited to move fifty or so feet to reach my car. Then I sat waiting to be able to get out. Folks just blocked the one lane route through the lot waiting for someone to leave so they could park. Just crazy. Finally I was able to get out of the lot and had an easy drive home. A really fun trip to end the year.

Hiking on Tiger Mountain 34 times on 35 New Year's Eves is a little crazy. This must be my longest running tradition. I've done it in the dark, with snow falling, with snow on the entire drive, in the rain, in most all conditions. This day was nearly ideal. Bright sunshine, little wind though it was forecast, not many other people, and a sew of cotton candy fog below us. Maybe it will rain hard next NYE. Regardless, there is a very good chance I will end 2018 on Tiger Mountain.

First View Out
Above The Fog
John & Long Shadows
Upper Poo Poo Pt
View North
Squak Mountain
Tiger 1 Viewpoint
Camp Robber Jay
John At Hut Viewpoint
Hiker's Hut
Mt. Rainier
Tiger 2 Summit
Back In The Fog
White Fungus
More Fungi
Small Mushrooms
Same Mushrooms
End Of One Way Trip
Panorama Shot To the South From Lower Poo Po Point
Panorama Shot From Upper Poo Poo Point Looking To The West
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2017