And another belated post for anyone who is reading the blog! I’m only 8-10 posts behind now! Haha. I’ll catch up soon. I think. I hiked Mount Washington in the rain in on June 2. I hiked solo, got soaked from the rain, saw a big slug, took an accidental detour, hiked an alternate route down, and (with my bad vision) scared myself into thinking I saw a deer and/or mountain lion which turned out to be merely a non-menacing dead bush. Ha.
Tuesday. June 2, 2015. Hike: Mount Washington. Mileage: 9.1 miles. Elevation gain: 3250 feet. High point: 4450 feet.
I have Tuesday off from work and plans to hike. The forecast says rain, so I decide to stay close to Seattle and settle for something that wont have views I haven’t already seen, so I settle on a loop of Mount Washington. Sometimes I get so weary of the out-and-back hikes – the same scenery on the way down as on the way up can be monotonous. Hence the loop – switch it up and hike down a different trail up and down. That should switch up the scenery and keep me on my toes.
I drive out of Seattle and toward Snoqualmie Pass on I-90, stopping well before the pass at the small parking area for Mount Washington.
There is only one other car in the lot. I download the topo map so I can navigate my way around the mountain. The trail starts out flat, lined with green bushes and small trees. I follow the WTA trail directions and take the unmarked spur trail to the left off the John Wayne Trail. The trail is cozy. I imagine it would be a worthy hike in nice weather too. Once in the woods, the trail gets more steeper, closed in, and more switchback-y.
I pass a big cave that people use for sport climbing. Bolts and abandoned quickdraws dot the cave roof. It looks like a nice spot to duck out of the rain. The sky is a little dreary and drizzly, but it’s not all out raining so I have no need for this awesome cave right now.
I continue up and pass a junction with a sign that says “Mt WA” – the first real indication that I’m on the right trail! It feels good to have the reaffirmation that I’m going the right direction.
After a while, I hit the junction with the Great Wall Trail and continue to the right. A ways after that, the trail flattens out and opens up to a sort-of-alpine meadow and bouldery scree field. I pee in the boulders and hope nobody pops out around the corner but I haven’t seen anybody on this dreary day and I’m not too worried.
I continue up. Eventually coming to another junction.
The better trail goes to the left and I almost go that way, but the WTA trail description says go right. I double check it a few times and the go right. I loop back over the bouldery scree field from a higher vantage point and the trail gets smaller and smaller, barely more than matted down tall grasses. I’m pretty sure this is not the trail. In fact, I know this is not the trail. But I look at my topo map and according to it, if it doubles back to the left, it should follow the ridge line up and take me to the top regardless. Onward!
The trail peters out more and more. I see a huge banana slug! My legs are pretty wet from the tall grasses. The trail does loop to the left!
And it takes me up a lumpy ridge – I crawl over lumpy mounds of grass and logs and rocks, scrambling at times. And the rain picks up. Argh. I’m pretty wet at this point, but I have my trusty umbrella kind of covering me and deflecting at least some of the rain. Another little push up the lumpy ridge and I hit a junction with an actual trail – ooohhh, that’s where the trail went! Back when WTA told me to go left, it definitely should have been right.
No matter, I’m on my way. A bit more exposure up here. Another unmarked junction – I go right and it takes me on a few switchbacks. I’m hoping that the “tower” marked on the map is a firetower and that it’s open and has shelter for me…and then I get there and it’s a dinky cell phone tower. Lame.
I duck under a more tree covered area, prop my umbrella on some branches, and change from wet wind jacket to dry rain jacket. I eat a bar, then I go down to make my loop. This part of the trail gets a bit trickier because there’s no WTA description. I just have a cell phone picture of a map and my GPS for my Topo app. So far so good. Fingers crossed. I can always backtrack if I need to but I think it’ll be fine.
I hike down from the summit, going straight where the trail diverges and I find the boundary for the Cedar River Watershed, the water supply for the city of Seattle. I walk along a mostly flat forestry road until it switchbacks left, then follow it downhill and across a ridge. There would probably be nice views on a clear day. Today, clouds. The road peters out at points, but continues on as a trail.
At one point I see a fuzzy reddish brown object ahead. I think, is that a deer? It’s not moving. Wait, is it a mountain lion??!! I scare myself and my heart picks up the pace. I hold out my trekking poles and yell in it’s direction as I walk towards it. I get a little closer and the fuzzy thing comes into view. A small dead pine tree with brownish needles. Ha. Get back you ferocious dead bush. Whew I breath easier and laugh at myself, glad that nobody witnessed me waving sticks and shouting at shrubbery.
The trail rounds down to the left, then the actual trail splits off to the right from the quasi-forestry road and goes downhill and into more dense woods. After a short time, this loop reconnects back onto the trail from which I came and I’m back on familiar footing. Same trail going down as coming up. I zip down. I pause at the climbing cave. I cross the forestry road and logging road and John Wayne Trail. Take a left at the graffitied old sign. And tada – back at the car. Ride on back to Seattle and I’m home again.