A goldilocks weather day: hike to Mt. Si

Alone we walk, together we climb: the story of today’s hike up Mt. Si.

I’m lucky because I get to enjoy popular hikes during the less busy week days, thanks to my strange weekends.

It’s nice to see that I’m not alone: quite a few of us were making the trek up the mountain solo, but we got to enjoy the views together!

Mt. Si was on my list of ‘to-climb’ peaks in 2017, and as usual, I wasn’t planning on checking it off my list so early into the season. I haven’t had a lot of hikes under my belt this year, so I thought to make the 3,100′ in elevation gain in 4 miles, I needed more prep time.

I was right.

But I did it anyway, because as it turned out, it wasn’t going to rain today. I woke up early (thank you, sun), thinking I had overslept. No, no…it was early. So, I looked for hikes — I was going to choose the elusive (to me) Little Mashel Falls in Eatonville, but Mt. Si kept calling my name.

I drove east instead of south.

The trail starts off fine, on a fairly nice incline. But then you realize it’s going to be like that all the way up and I started to think ‘WHAT DID IT GET MYSELF INTO? Going up is fine, but my knees are going to be so mad on the way down…’

Meanwhile, a man twice my age with a 40-lb pack, who started a few minutes after me, passed me up the hill. Turns out he was training for Mt. Baker, but it made me appreciate just how many uses this hike has: trail running, trail training and weekend trail warriors alike continue to reap the benefits from the demanding incline, and of course, the view.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, the only trail mile markers are towards the beginning and end– at .7mi where the trail splits to Talus Loop (1.3 mile hike), or to the top (3.2m), and then again a few paces later, someone wrote 1 mile on a tree. At the end, some tricksters painted a giant ‘4’ on a tree, giving exhausted hikers false hope — it was probably a quarter of a mile (or more) to the top.

I’d like to give a shout out to all those people who construct and maintain trails — the Mt. Si trail is heavily used, and while that’s visible, it’s extremely well constructed and maintained. They’ve even put a couple of paths made of rock for water to go through..in the middle of the trail (they were fun to hop over!). I also don’t envy having to either drag equipment up and down or construct steps on a rugged incline, so kudos to all you trail designers. Well done!

The view was worth it: the perfect lunch spot with a view was tempting to stop and eat, but I realized that I would just stay there and not get up and explore, I was that tired. So I walked around the rocks, taking in the view as I did. I was a bit more nervous about the rock climb, as my legs were tired and I didn’t want to fall, but I did get a nice view of Haystack rock.

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Oh, besides the numerous chipmunks and squirrels, not at all embarrassed to beg for treats, I saw a blue bird (may blue jay — just saw a flash of blue), lots of tiny birds AND A SNAKE! I thankfully heard the thin black and yellow snake hiss, telling me that was his spot on the rocks: I quickly scurried away.

I wanted to tour around a bit more, but I was tired and hungry so I settled on a spot with a decent view and ate my lunch.

As people came up, I noticed a guy with a Rochester, NY t-shirt! Nice to see people from my hometown taking in hikes as they visit the area!

Spent about 30 minutes enjoying the view, though I could’ve stayed longer. Knowing I had a tough descent, I wanted to give myself as much time as possible. I grabbed a nice walking stick at the top, and commenced. Just a few meters in, my bad knee started to throb with pain. I ended up having to stop a few times before figuring out how to walk sideways down the mountain approx 3.5 miles without triggering too many pain sensors.

Because of my snail’s pace, all the people I had passed coming up the mountain and left behind at the top ended up passing me on the flip side. However, I’d rather be slow than injure myself and have to get rescued!

My bad knee flaring up was a great reminder to myself to make sure I am better physically prepared next time. I think with a couple smaller hikes under my belt, I wouldn’t have had such a problem coming down.

I finally made it down: only took me 2.5 hours to hike up, yet a ridiculously long 2.75 hour descent!

Great hike, well worth the towards the top ‘are we there yet?’ exclamations. I don’t know how people hike both Little Si AND Mt. Si in one day without collapsing midway on big Si!

Next up on the list: Mailbox Peak.

…if my knees can handle it.

P.S. –Always hike prepared — extra food, water, first aid kit, etc +  know how much you can handle before you go on a hike like Mt. Si. It’s not by any stretch, a first excursion hike. More details on this particular trail can be found here.

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