Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Mt. Si Washington 6-15-2011

I've been up in the Seattle area for about a week now taking the RMI Wilderness First Responder class, and today was a day off from the course. I was supposed to be meeting with some friends that were down from Alaska and when I didn't hear from them today, I decided to go hiking. In the class, one of the instructors (Kate E.) likes to use Mt. Si as the background for some of our training scenarios. Not knowing anything about Mt. Si before arriving in Seattle, I decided to to take a hike up what I've started calling "The mountain of medical mystery"......yeah, bad humor, but at least I didn't find anyone sprawled out in the middle of the trail.

Just a little snippet about Mt. Si and the trail, it is located near North Bend, Washington with an elevation of 4,167 feet. The trail to the spot called the "haystack basin" is 4 miles one way with an elevation of 3,900', which is where most people hike to. From there to the haystack is a  bit of a gnarly rock scramble to the summit. I only went as far as the basin since it was not recommended to do the scramble if it was rainy or foggy, which it was both for most of the day. I left Seattle around 2:00pm and headed east on I-90 arriving at the trailhead around 3:00, which sits at around 700'. I was shooting for a pace of around 2mph, but with adding more weight to my pack, i wasn't able to hold it for too long. Working into a steady rhythm, I made decent progress, stopping frequently to adjust gear, drink water, and rest. Along the way I ran into several other hikers (its one of the most popular trails in Wa.), and most would say hi as they passed. I stopped about halfway up to take a break for some food, and had a descender stop at the switchback with me and visit for a few.

Around that time, a father and son team with some ridiculously large and heavy packs came along, and as I would find out later, they were training for a climb of Mt. Rainier coming up next week. After playing leapfrog and visiting along the way, we sort of just worked into a traveling group, talking at rest and encouraging each other up the trail. I stayed with them up to the haystack basin, and then sat with them for about 15 minutes before they left. As they were leaving, we made some introductions and talked about possibly running into each other on Rainier next Monday. A few more people made it up around that time, and I spent a few more minutes visiting and getting pictures. When I'm hiking solo, I'm so fixated on the goal, I lose the enjoyment of the trip and the goal itself by leaving after too short of time. At around 6:30, it was time to head down.

I wanted to try and keep a pace of around 3mph on the descent since I tend to let gravity do its thing. That's never good, and I usually end up with aching feet and knees at the bottom. This time I kept it just under 3mph, reaching the parking lot by 8:00pm, with the only complaint of a little pain in my right big toe and knee. The knee was to be expected, the toe I think I need to get better laces for the Lowa's. They seem to stretch and loosen up, but other than that, it was all muscle fatigue by the time I got to my car.  I felt pretty damn good, doing an 8 mile round trip with about 3,200' of vertical in 5 hours. To date, that is the most vertical gain I've achieved in one day, and it wasn't near as taxing on my body as my South Sister attempt from last year. I'm getting so ready for a shot at the Three Sisters or Mt. Adams this year, I just need to have the time and hope a few more roads start opening up, and I'll be on my way up, higher and further.
Shot of George (the dad) on the lower knob below the haystack.
The Haystack
Taken by Brad (the son)

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