Tiger 3 Christmas

I woke up on Christmas day hoping for good enough conditions to get in a morning hike. I found rain showers all over the area and gusty winds. The temperature at home was in the mid 30s. I really did not want to go hiking. Still, the year was rapidly coming to the end and I wanted to get in some more mileage and elevation gain. I packed up my umbrella and all my rain gear and headed out at 7:55 am. The WDSOT camera showed fresh snow alongside the I-90 at the junction with Highway 18. That elevation is about 1000'. High Point is at about 500'. Showers on most of the drive turned into hard rain going through Issaquah. Maybe I would get lucky on a short 6 mile round trip hike up Tiger 3. I parked at the gate at High Point. To get 6 mile I needed to start here rather than drive on to the parking lot. It was lightly raining when I started out at 8:30 am.

I did not need an umbrella as the forest on the Connector Trail kept me fairly dry. When I reached the parking lot it had about a dozen cars. There were none at the gate where I parked. The lot also had falling snow. The small elevation gain from the gate turned rain to wet snow. I definite improvement. I went back into forest. The flat trail to the Bus Trail was covered with  big puddles. The overnight and morning rain really showed here. There was no snow at first. The old road/trail begins to climb. It did not take long before I saw a little snow sticking to the sides of the trail. Soon it was sticking to the trail. Up to the Talus Rocks Trail junction the snow was very thin. Above that little to no dirt showed through. I passed a lone hiker than two more. Three hikers went by on their way down. A number of early hikers went on the Talus Rocks Trail. There were still a number of footprints though most of the trail was untrod snow. I found that part had better traction than the boot path.

As I climbed I passed a few more hikers and one youngster passed me by. The snow soon covered everything. It was inches thick on all the branches. Some branches were weighted down and hung in the trail. It was just about the best conditions possible on Tiger Mountain. Snow covering all the ground and plastered to the trees. It was not deep enough to need gaiters. Traction was good enough to not need traction devices. I carried poles but never did use them. The snow was pretty but did not soak me. I had on a jacket but did not need an umbrella. The few folks I did see were in a good mood. The bright snow seemed to perk up our spirits.

The snow was getting a bit deeper above the railroad grade. It was still only about 4-5 inches. I made good time for the conditions but all my photo stops kept my overall speed down. As I approached the upper crossing of the Cable Line Trail a hiker recognized me. I did not recognize her at first under a lot of winter clothing. I had not seen Elle in several years though I have followed here hiking exploits online. She did a much more difficult ascent via the Nook and Section Line Trails. The Section Line is steep and is hard to see in places on dirt It is a challenge to follow under snow. Elle had the good sense to take the Tiger 3 trail down. She had an adventure. I had a pretty easy hike.

I continued on and passed one more hiker close to the summit.  The forecast had up to 25 mph winds from the southwest. To within a few minutes of the top I could not hear, see, or feel much wind at all. The last 25' of gain brought me out of the trees and into the new clearcut. The wind was fast and very cold. I put on my hood and zipped up my jacket before that last bit. The top was almost bare. The reason is that the wind had blown all the snow onto the northeast side. That is where I was coming up. I post holed to me knees in places. The top was much different than the entire hike up. The trees at the edge of the clear cut were bright white with rime ice. My glasses were covered in wet snow leaving me with minimal visibility. The cloud was so thick I could only see a very short distance in any direction. I spent a few minutes on top taking a video and some photos and retreated. The hiker I passed also summited but she headed down immediately. She had stopped back in the woods. I passed her and stopped for a photo. She went on by saying she had to get back fast to start Christmas dinner. She was fast. I never saw here again.

I reached the top at about 10:07 am. The descent was much faster. I had to be careful at first as there are a number of steps that were full of snow and looked smooth. Step off the edge and sink all the way to the ground. Once I was down a few hundred feet the trail is pretty smooth. I still stopped for photos and some videos but made much better time.  Farther down where the snow was thin in the morning it was now made slushy by more footsteps. That was the slickest part of the trail. After reaching the end of the snow it was easy walking on dirt. I reached the parking lot at 11:25 am. About 1:14 down from the summit. I still had the last .30 miles back to my car. It went fast and I reached my car at 11:38 am. Plenty early enough to get home and cleaned up for Christmas.

I really did not want to go for this hike with rain and mid 30s temperature. I'm very glad I did it. Tiger is not the most scenic hike most of the year. When it is covered with snow it looks the best. Add in enough snow to plaster everything but not enough to hinder hiking and you have a rare day on Tiger. I went ahead of last year's mileage on this hike too. A really fun day out in the snow.

It's Sticking
Trail Almost Covered
Snowy Branches
Plastered Branches
White Stripes
Fewer Footprints
Full Length Trees
Heavily Laden
Nearing Summit
Edge Of Summit Clearcut
Hiker Arriving On Top
Barren Summit
Rime Ice Trees
Heading Down
Snowy Slope
Duck! Low Clearance
Hiker Ahead
Cold Winter Scene
Snow Is Thinning
Bare Ground
One Big Puddle
Connector Trail
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2021