Tiger Mountain Trail - S to N

     Over the last 20 years I have hiked every part of the Tiger Mountain Trail (TMT). What I had not done was to hike all of it in one day. Gary and I had planned on going east for a snow scramble but with gray skies and possible rain on both sides of the mountains we chose instead to stay close to home. We left my car at High Point and drove Gary's around to the South trailhead. It rained on the drive South but was had stopped by the time we started. We made good time for the first 4 miles, going around South Tiger Mountain and crossing the West Side Road. The next section on an old railroad grade is one of my favorites. The TMT  is never steep but has many small ups and downs. Over a long distance they add up. We planned to throw in a few side trips and our first one was the trail up Middle Tiger. This is about half a mile and gains 500'. We had a little food and water on top and headed back down. I was glad to see that the South end of the TMT has been getting maintenance. A number of new culverts have been placed and logs cut. There were several logs across the trail that will need cutting. None were difficult to get over or around. With Middle Tiger taken care of we had covered about 6 miles and gained 2000'. That is the equivalent of going up and down the popular Tiger 3 trail but we still had 10 miles to go.

     From the Middle Tiger Trail to Fifteen Mile Gap is a long distance. The trail goes up and down and in and out of a number of valleys. In a straight line it is 2 miles from Middle Tiger to Tiger 2. On the ground it is nearly 3 times as long. Our luck held out as the rain stayed away. Usually if Gary and I both carry umbrellas they can ward off the rain. Today was no exception. Now if we leave them in the car expect a down pour. We crossed the Charles Custer bridge and continued on. Finally we reached Fifteen Mile Gap and stopped for more food. We were now beyond the mid point and nearing the high point on the TMT. We encountered more of the bizarre "Tiger Mountain Broken Tree Syndrome". These trees were broken in half and appeared on the Middle Tiger Trail, beyond Fifteen Mile Gap, beyond the Tiger 2 to 3 trail, and in several other places. These are on ridges, in deep forest, on North slopes, West slopes, and South slopes. I have no clue as to what caused it. Our next side trip was up Tiger 2. The trail is near the 2600' high point on the TMT and we only needed to gain 200' to get on top. With just the 2 of us on top, there were 24 less people than on a Wednesday evening hike a month ago. I was a little surprised to see two people before Middle Tiger and three runners coming down Middle Tiger. On top of Tiger 2 we saw to hikers and 2 runners. The runners were finishing hitting all 6 summits in both directions. And I thought our little 17 mile trip was impressive... The easy way down Tiger 2 is to drop down the North side and reconnect with the TMT. We were, however determined to follow the whole trail so we backtracked on the West side. On top of Tiger 2 I finished the last of my food but still had enough water left to last to the bottom. 12 miles down and only 5 to go now.

     The TMT is very nice going around Tiger 2 and dropping to the West Tiger RR Grade. The trail was good but I was starting to feel tired. At miles 14.5 we found a sign listing the distance of 2.5 miles to go. After crossing High Point Creek the trail starts to ascend again. I knew this was coming but could not remember how much climbing there was. Now I know. It was 400' up hill before the trail relented. I'm not used to climbing after logging nearly 15 miles. It was not much fun. The rest of the way was fine. The last mile I was out of gas. My legs were fine but the tank was empty and I came in on fumes. The TMT is a great trail. I'm glad to have finally done all of it in one day. Now that I have finished this report it's time to turn in and get some sleep before tomorrow's hike.