Change Creek and much more – 6/6/2015

Ho hum ,just another view of Mt. Rainier
Ho hum ,just another view of Mt. Rainier

Our hike yesterday was just a bit more than 19 miles with something in the neighborhood of 6800 feet of elevation gain.  Our goal was to use the Garmin to map Mt. Washington and its neighborhood – well, as much as we could in one day – and in that we succeeded.

In outline we:

1. Summitted Mt. Washington via the same trail we took on Thursday, the one that starts at a pond and ends with a mad trail-scramble (as compared to the various rocky scrambles in the area).

2. Went down the main trail to the Great Wall trail and then up to the summit again, this time via that trail.

3. Went down the Great Wall trail to yet another trail, up to the summit of Change Peak.

4. And then back down the Great Wall to the junction with Change Creek trail, and from there back down to the John Wayne/Iron Horse trail, which is about a mile east of where we hit the trail to begin with at 5AM.

It was about 3:30 PM when we returned to the car, for a ten-and-half hour hike.


We have talked about Mt. Washington so much, would you like to see what it looks like from the Great Wall trail, heading (right in the picture) towards Change Peak?

The actual Mount Washington
The actual Mount Washington

Right in the middle of the mountain is a light-colored area with few trees and if you look closely you can see a sliver of trail going up and to the right.  That is part of the main trail and it switchbacks up to the summit a few times from where you can see it in the photo.  The second time we were standing there we saw hikers going up.

A little farther down this trail is Change Peak, our goal after summitting Mt. Washington twice.  Since we were at about 3100 feet when we took this picture, the peak doesn’t look very tall, but the GPS told us it is about 4300 feet at the summit:

The next Peak - Change Peak
The next Peak – Change Peak

One of our landmarks on the Great Wall is a rocky prominence that, Derek discovered last Thursday, has a little cache object (a plastic box) on the top, semi-hidden.  I suspect we stumbled across a geocache (Google it if you are curious).

Here is a picture of Grampy Joel on the top, reaching for the cache to leave a souvenir for the next explorer:

Reaching for the secret cache
Reaching for the secret cache

To reach Mt. Washington summit from here, keep going straight, turn right at the logging road intersection, and when you reach a trailhead that looks too steep and too unmaintained, that’s it.  It’s a 30 degree grade for 900 feet to intersect with the main trail, just a few yards from the summit.

By the way, since Derek was the first of we two to climb this little pile of rocks, he is on the hook to name it.  As of 6/6/15 he is still considering it.

And here is the neighborhood of many of our other hikes, including the one we plan for Tuesday, June 9, looking north from around the corner:


Little Si is out of the picture to the left; Mt. Si/Haystack on the left; then two peaks that represent a ridge between Si and Teneriffe; then Teneriffe.

On Tuesday we are going to pretty much go straight up Teneriffe via the invisible trail just to the left of the first taller (actually, just closer to the camera) tree starting in the center of the picture.

The Change Creek trail was new to us and because it is twisty and turny we were a little tense that we were going to head back to John Wayne/Iron Horse but suddenly our goal was in sight and our fears of having to backtrack seven miles disappeared:

Nearing the end: John Wayne/Iron Horse Trail
Nearing the end: John Wayne/Iron Horse Trail

All in all we had a terrific hike.  Just over 19 miles on the GPS.  Ten hours and thirty minutes by the watch, and for our Boeing On The Move calculation that counts as 630 minutes @137 steps a minute.

Tuesday is the Kamikaze Trail to the summit of Mount Teneriffe on two days of leg rest so I am – except for a pending trip to the off-leash dog park with Jan and Lili later – a couch potato today.


New trails on Mt. Washington – 6/4/2015

In the clouds
In the clouds

As much as we love discovering new hikes, there is something utterly compelling about learning more and more about otherwise familiar territory.  Mount Washington is our exploration laboratory.

On this hike, we started on the main trail, passed the Sallus View and Great Wall detours and hiked up to a pond where, we had noted, the main trail switchbacks up but a side trail loops up the west side of the mountain.  Here is a view of that spot with the western trail behind the camera, the main trail coming up and switching direction:

Main trail is the switchback
Main trail is the switchback

This led us to some amazingly steep sections.  Hand-over-hand for at least 1/4 mile in one spot.

We had been coached on this by a man we have now run into twice.  We do not know his name but hikers in this area owe him a big debt, as he regularly (perhaps every day!) scours these trails for overgrown branches, which he trims, and new routes, which he marks:

Helpful pile of rocks mark the trail
Helpful pile of rocks mark the trail

Anyway, we absolutely loved this route to the summit and are going to do it again on Saturday, 6/6.  (we changed our plans because of the projected 85+ degree heat we will defer our 31 mile hike to a weekday, and one that is cooler).   On Saturday we will have no real time constraints and we will have the GPS device to map all the main trails.

Here is one of the scrambles, this one to the summit of what we are calling Change Peak, which is also known as East Mount Washington:

Is it redundant to say: don't slip?
Is it redundant to say: don’t slip?

The scenery around there is outstanding:

Tree with view
Tree with view
Beautiful little scene
Beautiful little scene
Civilization and its discontents
Civilization and its discontents

We did about 12.5 miles in 5 hours and 40 minutes – not too bad considering how steep much of it was and the time we spent scrambling up rocky challenges.

Derek found something like a geocache on the top of one of our landmarks and we are both going up there Saturday to leave a present for the next explorer.

A future hike: 6/29 Derek and I are going to hike with George del Campo and Darrell Hull up to Vesper Peak.  Should be fun!

Hiking in the ‘hood – 5/30/2015 (updated 6/1/2015)

20 Miles of Trails near Derek's house
20 Miles of Trails near Derek’s house

On the one hand, Derek, Jill and Finley definitely live in a city, the city of Snoqualmie.  It has its own Champions Tour event (the Boeing Classic), a nice downtown, an older section of town with a railroad and on and on.

It is civilization.

But the view from their balcony shows how close they are to the Issaquah Alps, although yesterday the best view was obscured by the morning marine layer.  You can see a corner of a mountain in this view:

View from Derek and Jill's balcony
View from Derek and Jill’s balcony

Saturday the 30th we had time constraints so all we did was walk out his door about 7am and did an almost 3 hour hike.  There are so many trails in their neighborhood that it may be tough to choose a route, just like it can be hard to pick your food from a crowded menu.

The views are excellent no matter where you turn:

Lush fairly young forest
Lush fairly young forest
Thick saplings
Thick saplings
Valley view
Valley view

Pretty nice, eh?

We figure we did about 8.5 miles yesterday in about 2 hours and 45 minutes.  We figured this was a training exercise, so instead of pacing ourselves on the steep portions we just powered ahead the entire way.

It was fun.

And we planned our next two hikes.

Next Thursday, June 4, we are going to honor the fact that the new baby’s birth is imminent and that Derek sure needs to be accessible if Jill starts going into labor, so we are “just” going to do another version of the Mount Washington hike.  This time we will, at some point, do the Great Wall trail, but explore a new trail by hiking the Change Creek trail that intersects the Great Wall.

And next Saturday, June 6, we are planning a 31-mile Tiger Mountain/12 peak trek.  At no point will we be too terribly far from the car so it is doable within the exciting baby-watch embrace.

UPDATE 6/1: Derek informs me that yesterday he and Finley and some of her Girl Scout pals hiked 4 miles on Cougar Mountain, with 1,200 feet of elevation gain, and Fin hiked every step!  Kudos to Fin for a great performance.  She may earn a nice reward if she can join us to do Cedar Butte which is, come to think of it, probably easier than what she did on Cougar.

Mt. Si via back door and Mt. Teneriffe – 5/25/2015

disc at summit
Disc at summit

This time we made it to the summit of Mt. Teneriffe, but not via Kamikaze Trail.  We did, however, discover where that trail intersects the main trail, and we chatted briefly with another hiker who had just ascended via that route.  We also explored it from the top for a little way down and decided that, as we thought, it would be a nice way to ascend but we will descend via the main trail.

We got to the Mt. Teneriffe trail head just a bit after 6AM.  We were the first car there.  We went up the main trail, passed the sign for Teneriffe/Kamikaze falls and continued to the Mt. Si summit – just below the haystack.

Derek went a ways up the Haystack but wisely decided to defer the final ascent to another time:

Derek on the Haystack
Derek on the Haystack

As for me, I will let the young and the trained climb the haystack.  It is out of my league.

The trail itself for most of the way is in excellent and recently upgraded shape:

Nice trail
Nice trail

We hiked down from Mt. Si and then across an interesting spur and up to the summit of Teneriffe.  It is a great peak.  Like many of the mountains around here you have to scramble to make it to the very top but this one is doable even for old guys like me:

Final Teneriffe scramble
Final Teneriffe scramble

And the view from the top is awesome!

Mt. Teneriffe summit
Mt Teneriffe summit

Derek at the summit

Derek at the summit

Our maps said we hiked about 15.8 miles, our GPS put it closer to 14.8 miles.  We had thought about extending it to 18 but time was not on our side.

We are planning a 31-miler on Tiger Mountain, tentatively set for Sunday, June 7.  We figure about 17 hours on that one, as it goes up and down 6 mountains twice each.  Fun!  We may do something shorter but steeper between now and then as an extra training workout for our legs.

Looking forward to the big one and to the imminent arrival of Derek and Jill’s new son,  Finley’s baby brother on or about June 16.

5/17/2015 – Cedar Butte and Sallal Point trail

Iron Horse Sign
Where are you going today?

I was back at the upper Rattlesnake Lake parking lot today with a plan to investigate Cedar Butte and Sallal Point.  Plan accomplished but my explorations today revealed quite a few more trails to explore.

You gotta love this place!

Cedar Butte is a fairly benign (2 mile round trip, 800 ft elevation gain) prominence about a mile down the Iron Horse trail from this sign.  I wanted to explore this to see if it is as family-friendly as it seems from the written descriptions.  I think it is a hike we can do with Jan and Jill and Fin (and ultimately, the little guy who is due to arrive on or about June 16).

It definitely is family-friendly but I don’t think I actually found the summit.  I was wandering around looking for a rumored new trail from Cedar Butte to Mt. Washington and I went up and down and around a couple of times and found myself mysteriously back on the Iron Horse trail.  I looped around without realizing it and rather than start over, I decided to re-explore this nice little trail some other time.

So I took off towards Mt. Washington, which is about 1.7 miles past the western trail head for Twin Falls (see sign above).  Sallal Point intersects the Mt. Washington trail about 1.5 miles from the trail head:

Sign for Sallal Point trail

Derek and I have seen this sign many times and always wondered what it is.

Well, what it is is a nice trail for sure.  Derek has the Garmin (he is figuring out how to use it) so I figured I would just stay on the main Sallal Point trail, which I did, but I noticed three tantalizing trails heading up (towards the right) from the main trail.  I am sure we can investigate these at our leisure.

They are steep, and I do mean straight up!

The trail I was on seemed to run out after a healthy little scramble:

The end
This is where I ran out of Sallal Point trail


So I unwrapped the trekking poles to help me down and back-tracked to Iron Horse again.  What a nice trail the Iron Horse is.  You see horses:

And there are plenty of non-iron horses on the trail

And bikers:

Iron Horse is great for bikers

And, just go a little ways off-trail and you can see evidence that other creatures share this environment:

Bear shit
“… in the woods”

My Boeing On The Move pedometer registered 33, 325 steps from car back to car, and adding up the dots on the map I figure about 15 miles today.

Not too drastic, far from extreme elevation gain (but just try the first 1.5 miles of Mt. Washington, it is a good conditioning hike), but very worth it.

There are numerous trails and mysterious paths intersecting Iron Horse and I will check out as many as I possibly can.  One little path led to a little stream smack next to old railroad rails:

Nice little waterfall
Just off trail


Iron just off Iron Horse Trail


Next weekend I will be on a golf weekend in eastern Washington, returning Sunday,  but Derek and I are planning a hike on Memorial Day.

And Derek: by the way, I believe that Mailbox Peak road is open from 3:30 PM Friday to 7:00 AM Monday so maybe we can test our legs and cardio fitness on Mailbox really early some Saturday or Sunday.

5/12/2015 – Kamikaze (Teneriffe) Falls

Fin in front
Finley’s birthday presentation

After the hike we had the extreme pleasure of visiting Finley’s kindergarten class to attend her birthday presentation – her sixth birthday was yesterday, May 11, 2015.  Happy Birthday Fin!

But the hike itself can only get mixed reviews.

On the one hand, we got to see an impressive waterfall close up:

Kamikaze Falls
Kamikaze Falls

And from different angles:

Kamikaze Falls
Another view of Kamikaze Falls

The good news about the hike is that we did get to do some very challenging sections, as for instance climbing up the side of the falls:

Interesting trip up the falls

Ultimately, though, we arrived at a bit of an impasse.  We could see something faintly resembling a trail on a spine that appeared to lead to the summit of Mount Teneriffe, perhaps 2,000 feet above us.  Very rocky and steep but it did look like something we could ascend.

However, descending, given the time constraint (we did NOT want to miss Fin’s presentation) seemed a bit iffy.  We decided to go back down and try to figure out a way down from the summit for a future hike.

More looking at the map and GPS (which is newly arrived and not easy to figure out) led us to believe that we definitely could have summited along that spiny unmaintained trail, and that there is an alternative way down.

Tomorrow, 5/13, Derek is going to investigate a trail we sampled on the way down to see if it does in fact lead to Teneriffe’s summit.  If it does, we are in business and will re-trace our path one of these days, but next time to the summit.

In the meantime, the hike had its very nice magical moments:

Rainy Day
Sometimes a rainy day shows itself off

And this:

Typical Kamikaze Trail condition
Typical Kamikaze Trail condition

Much of this trail looks like that.  It’s a fun trail, and we will be back.

And if Derek makes it to the summit tomorrow, look for a photo from up there, a great 360 view for miles around.

Any day that is capped off with a visit to Fin’s class is a memorable day indeed.

5/7/2015 Great Wall to Mt. WA summit (once again)

Mailbox Peak from Mt. Washington

Our plan today was to hike Mailbox Peak (there it is) but the road to the trail head was under construction and a very nice but very firm highway worker told us to scram.

So we came up with a quick plan B.  We went four miles farther east on I-90 and, once again, found ourselves in the parking lot from which most hikes up Mount Washington are launched.  And we decided to do the Great Wall trail again, but this time make the final turn correctly.

Which we did.

Sunny day
Sunny day on a shady trail

70 degrees, perfectly sunny, absolutely perfect weather.  And when you are hiking through a forest, the sunny weather creates some awesome interplays of sun and shade.

Check out the final sentence in the 2nd episode of Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’ and multiply it by several miles and you will get the idea.

Speaking of forest, it has its own attractions:

The woods have their own beauty

View after view makes it difficult to choose a winner but this one is pretty nice: (good eye, Derek!)

great view
Behold the view

The Great Wall is an exceedingly impressive wall of rocks and trees:

lone tree
lone tree

Every time you get a nice view of Mt. Rainier from the summit of this mountain the view is different.  Infinitely interesting:

Mt Rainier
Mount Rainier looks different every day

Looking at the map and adding the distances as best as we can we figure our hike today was about 12 miles.   And we did it in about 4:45 – not exactly running, but given the elevation gain (about 3300 or 3400 feet) not bad.

Our next hike is scheduled for Tuesday, May 12 and we are aiming at Mount Teneriffe.  With just a little luck we will have the Garmin eTrex 20 I ordered last week and we will be able to map our route and gather all the statistics – groovy!

UPDATE 5/10/2015 (Happy Mother’s Day)

Removed video link 5/11, just too much hassle.




Great Wall Again – 4/29/2015

It is my fault, not Derek’s.  We did not reach the Mt. Washington summit.  At the last opportunity to take a wrong turn I steered us wrong.  And I had to be home by 4PM (we hit the trail at 9:10 AM, and it is a long drive home on a weekday afternoon) so when we figured out what we should have done it was too late to do it right.

Getting to the summit via Great Wall is for next time.

But what a fun day anyway.  10 miles round trip, nice and steep much of the way and those views!  Every day is different.  No snow yesterday and I was amazed that so much snow can melt in only 2 days.  There were misty clouds floating around that really gave the scene a wonderful touch:

Along the Great Wall
Mysterious sky

Walking along the ‘great wall’ section of the Great Wall trail inspires a little focus, because you wonder if this is the moment when some of those rocks and boulders decide to take the path of least resistance, give up the fight, and roll downhill?

The rocky great wall
Good news: easy trail Bad news: what if those rocks decide to tumble?

But it is all too easy to let your attention drift from the mountain above to the mountains nearby:

Clearcut areas
Naked slashes on a neighboring mountain

Of course, it only LOOKS like we are in the middle of nowwhere.  At some points you can shift perspective entirely:

Truck stop
Looking down – in every sense of the term – on civilization

But Derek has a wonderful way to find great photos and, as Jan said last night, he has a real talent for framing them.  I love this picture of some lonesome trees:

lonesome trees
Lonesome trees

We are planning on the notoriously steep Mailbox Peak hike next Thursday.  We have not finalized our plans for the weekend but it looks like Granny and Grampy are going to get a friendly visitor for the weekend, so no hike until next week.

Looking forward to testing our legs on Mailbox Peak (and yes, someone put an actual mailbox on the summit and we will put the picture right here).

Mt. Washington via Great Wall (and Steve) 4/26/2015

Steve at the summit

Many thanks to Steve who was able to re-route me and get me to the Mt. Washington summit.  But I am getting ahead of myself.

My plan today was to hike Mt. Washington again but this time via a route that Derek and I had noticed, the Great Wall trail:

Great Wall
This way to the Great Wall

The trail is awesome with views, on average, much better that the main trail.  For example:

Great view
Typical sublime view

A couple of sections of the trail are closely bordered by what I would categorize as, well, as great walls:

Great Wall
Part of the actual Great Wall

I was following footprints.  There was so much snow, and I did not know the way, so the “trail” for me was footprints from someone a few days previously who had blazed the way:

My map

Ultimately the footprints just stopped and doubled-back.  Uh oh!  But I pushed on (and on and on) and finally got to a rocky outcrop just below a summit.  It was a summit but not the one I was looking for.  That’s when I turned around and decided to back-track to the main trail and go up to the summit from there.

But, luckily for me, I ran into Steve, who showed me the correct route.  This is a marvelous trail, and it gets ultra-steep right at the end.  But well worth it for the views on the top:

Mt. Ranier
Mt. Rainier from Mt. Washington summit


Great Wall view
Great Wall view


Mt. WA view

I was hoping to do this route and get back to the car in 5 hours, because I am only going to have 5 hours to hike on Wednesday.  I think this route is a bit long for 5 hours but – this hike is great via both trails, we could do the main trail up and down (perhaps that jog to the right at the pond for a switch) in 5 hours no sweat.

Looking forward to Wednesday and thanks again to Steve!  Without Steve I would have failed in my mission of getting to the summit via Great Wall

McClellan Butte on Shakespeare’s birthday

We were in his 'hood
This guy was checking us out

How fitting we would encounter a mountain goat on Shakespeare’s birthday, as one of his great insults (from Henry V) is: “Thou damned and luxurious mountain goat….”

We saw the goat on the way down.  He kept moving around to get a better view of us so we decided to leave him to his own devices.

It was a great day to hike, perfect weather and views to begin with:

Great view
Is this great or what?

McClellan Butte has some very steep sections and we were not hiking fast:

steep trail
If you look closely you can see one of us way up the trail; this is called ‘steep’

We saw a really cool little lake that is shaped like a salmon:

Salmon Pond
This pond looks like a salmon

The trail has many very nice sections:

Trail view
Typical view of the trail

We did not do the famous “scramble” at the top.  The scramble is a final rock pile of 200 or 300 feet that looks like it would be very doable except for one thing, namely, if you slip you die.  We skipped it:

No way
Final scramble – we skipped this one


But we got close and the view from here is amazing:

Nice summit view
Looking down from the top

All in all, this is a very steep and very tough hike and we loved every minute.  We will definitely do it again when the snow is gone to see if we can improve upon our round-trip time of 6 hours.

Mountain view
It’s a beautiful day in the Issaquah Alps neighborhood

We have hikes scheduled for this Sunday, the 26th and Wednesday the 29th.  Should be fun!