Winter has arrived! Well at least at 5,000 feet it has… The day off from work and a mere 20-30% chance of rain meant a nice, solid hike in the Snoqualmie Pass with friend and coworker Eve (who also keeps a sweet hiking blog). We wanted to get out for one last fall-ish hike before the serious rain/snow started so we were off to Granite Mountain – a medium distance hike with solid elevation gain and a lookout tower at the top. We were hoping for epic views, but were met with something more like epic clouds. Still a good hike. I’ll definitely have to come back here on a clear day though…
November 20. Hike: 8.6 miles. Elevation gain: 3800 feet. High point: 5629 feet. Destination: Granite Mountain.
Eve and I left the city around 8 am and drove the hour to Snoqualmie Pass. It was somewhat cloudy when we left the city, but by the time we reached the mountains it was raining and snow chain advisory signs were flashing along the highway. We noted the snow by the roadside, parked in the lot, tossed on our raingear, and headed off into the fog.
The trail was damp, the ground hard and frozen, some light snow/slush along the sides of the trail, and the skies gray. At 1.2 miles in we took the right fork, away from Pratt Lake and toward Granite Mountain. By then the rain was letting up some, so we shed some
layers and forged ahead. The trail grew steeper and rockier and the switchbacks gave way to mountain views. We climbed up and up and as we did the appearance of snow grew a little more and a little more. Gaps in the clouds occasionally gave way to glimpses of blue, but for the most part, it was all gray. As the trail began to flatten out, more snow appeared (1-2 inches) and the trail became harder to find, but Eve did it with success. We talked about donning our microspikes, but never really wanted to dig them from our packs, and we survived well with bare boots with only minor slipping.
The last push to the top was a bit steeper and there were a few inches of snow on the ground. When we got to the top it was as cloudy as ever, winds blowing slightly. We were psyched to escape the elements inside the lookout tower…but it was locked. Bummer. According to the latest WTA trail report, the tower was open only days earlier. Another reason to come back in nice weather. We put on our warmer layers and ate a few snacks below the tower before turning around and finding our way down.
Once out of the thick fog, the skies opened up to reveal yet more clouds surrounding the mountains below. Really sweet. Then down, down, down. We passed by woman with a dog on her way to the top. Then a man with a dog. And before we knew it, we were at the bottom. Success!