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It’s getting close to our Wonderland trail; this week we chose a medium length of ~9mi roundtrip with some altitude: Grand Prospect, the northern-most set of the illuminated radio-towers one can see driving west on I-90, right past North Bend.
First stop and aperitif after roughly 50 minutes at Stan’s Overlook. Refreshed, we tackle the remaining ~2/3 up through denser and older forest to the radio towers. We got a quick glance at the sun set over the Olympics shortly before we reach the Grand Prospect.

Stats:

Distance: 9mi / 24.4km roundtrip
Elevation gain:  2080ft / 624m
High point: 3060ft / 918m
Hiking time: 2:50hrs up, 1:45hrs down
Weather: partially cloudy, 60 at TH

Hikers:
Marjan, David

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Perfect camp site overlooking Spider Meadow
A backpacking trip that almost transplanted me back to good ole Switzerland: Spider Meadow has a very alpine look, with an open meadow down in the valley, flowers and marmots galore, surrounded by rugged mountains on either side and waterfalls pouring off the cliffs. Big difference to hiking in the Swiss Alps: here in the National Forest, one can readily camp in the backcountry. I even found a camp site made in heaven, more below.
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This week’s hike to Si I chose to go light & fast: small daypack, 2 qt camelbak water bladder and some granola bars.
From the trailhead up tothe Snoqualmie view point took me 95minutes, including playing photographer for a bunch of UW students at the 3.5mi viewpoint. Subtracting the ~15minutes of breaks along the ascend, this makes for a 80min actual travel time, averaging 3 miles per hour.
Descend was exactly one hour, with mostly jogging and only misstepping once in the dark, but no damage (sheepish grin). Unfortunatly, the jog down had me lose my Swiss army knive 😦

Stats:

Distance: 8mi / 13km roundtrip
Elevation gain:  3400ft / 1020m
High point: 3980ft / 1194m
Hiking time: 1:35 up, 1hr down
Weather: sunny, 70 at TH

Hikers:
David

We picked Boulder River trail as our first gear-check backpacking trip. Weighed down with 30-35lbs packs, we hiked a mostly comfortable trail follows Boulder River with plenty of ups and downs. Final altitude gain was only 400ft. At the end of the trail, we barely couldn’t find a free camp site among the 6-8 sites available. Right next to the river, we snatched the last site, fitting one tent. A large boulder next to it served as balcony, kitchen and dining room.

The Mountain House freeze-dried dinners are quick to cook but can be on the salty side; certainly the Beef Stroganoff was, the Oriental-style chicken was better.

Nighttime temperatures were moderate in the 50s and dry, so tent and sleeping bags were comfy.



Getting there:
From the Darrington Ranger Station, take State Route 530 west for 8.2 miles to the French Creek Road #2010 (miles post #41). Turn left (south) onto road #2010 and follow for 3.7 miles to the trailhead.

Stats:

Trail/map: MBS NF #734 / Green Trails #77 & #110
Distance: 8mi / 12.8km roundtrip
Elevation gain:  400ft / 120m
High point: 1400ft / 420m
Hiking time: ~2:30hr in, 2:30hr out
Weather: sunny, 75 at TH

Hikers:
Marjan, David

I was crazy enough to go Mailbox Peak this week, but I also exercised a lesson of mountaineering humbleness when I turned around ~150ft beneath the summit as I ran out of time (I set myself 9pm as turnaround time to not get too deep into the dark on descent). So score is now: Mailbox: 1 – David: 0
I have only one word for this mountain: relentless. I likely pushed too hard with the 35+ lbs on my back and I also got to the trailhead rather late (almost 7pm) due to leaving work late and traffic. But I’ll try again later this summer, the view is indeed gorgeous even from below the summit.

Stats:

Distance: 5mi / 8km roundtrip
Elevation gain:  4000ft / 1200m
High point: 4841ft / 1452m
Hiking time: 2:30hr up, 1:50hr down
Weather: sunny, 75 at TH

Hikers:
David

Yet another winter trip (but, isn’t it July…?):
Mt Pilchuck’s forest service road to the trailhead had just been cleared from snow less than 2 weeks ago and a snowy trail greeted me right at the trailhead. Most tracks lead directly up the much steeper direttisima (winter trail?), but I wanted to follow the regular trail, more to the west. With some search and bushwhacking (sure glad I had map and GPS with me…) After some searching I did find the regular trail leading up through wonderful old-growth forest. Above the tree line, the tracks in the snow got very thin again but a quarter mile of traverse merged me into the more popular winter trail. Sure glad I had my ice ax with me today. Passed some skiers and happily made the scramble all the way to the lookout. My optimistic hope that the sun would burn away the clouds didn’t materialize, so I could only guess and take very few peeks at what the view from the former forest service fire watch tower could be like.
Descend was really quick and great exercise for my thigh muscles: lots of glissading, and snow walking with big strides. Ice ax recommended, though.
Did I mention I love driving up & down lonely gravel forest roads with my 4×4? Flying over potholes is more fun than driving through them 🙂

After some searching and bushwhacking, I finally found the regular trail
Resting my eyes on some green and stoney grey before continuing climbing on another snow field
Sure wished I had thought of bringing my skies as the climbers below
No, the camera is straight up; the trees are still leaning from the snow load they just recently shed
Finally, the forest service lookout peeks between the huge boulders

Stats:

Distance: 6mi / 9.6km roundtrip
Elevation gain:  2224ft / 667m
High point: 5324ft / 1597m
Hiking time: 1:10hr up, 40min down
Weather: cloudy, foggy 55 at TH

Hikers:
David

This was by far the shortest stay on the Tiger summit we ever did: lightning was closing in on us (1-2 mi away), so we quickly turned around at the summit to not risk getting caught in the thunderstorm.
Back at the bottom, we walked along the trail to Tradition Lake to find a spot for our delayed picnic. Besides our usuals, Shabnam brought along a sampler of Chateau Erfani 2007: Her selfmade wine, albeit still young, has a great color and wonderful and round taste.

Stats:

Distance: 5mi / 8.1km roundtrip
Elevation gain:  2170ft / 650m
High point: 2522ft / 757m
Hiking time: 1:05hr up, 50min down
Weather: thunderstorm, 70 at TH

Hikers:
Shabnam, David