Greetings fellow hikers!
This weekend my boyfriend/adventure partner and I took our first exodus as Seattleites to Mt. Si. About a 45 minute drive from Seattle, Mt. Si looms impressively over the town of North Bend, Washington. Some of you may recognize it as part of the backdrop for creepy David Lynch cult classic, Twin Peaks.
It’s an incredibly popular hike. According to the Washington Trails Association it is the most popular in the state, seeing as many as 100,000 hikers in a year! This weekend was fairly gloomy and we still arrived midday to a completely full parking lot. I can only imagine how crowded it is on a beautiful summer day. Also, don’t forget your adventure pass. It’s required to leave your car in the Mt. Si lot.
We weren’t the only ones who had gotten a late start and though we passed a lot of people skipping down the trail, others were trudging upwards with us.
Round trip the hike is eight miles, four miles up and four miles down. The ascent starts immediately, with few flat spots for you to rest your achy legs. The guide we read on the internet mentioned a viewpoint after about 2 miles, but we did not see the turnoff for it.
After the first mile or so we were able to settle into an easy rhythm and got to the top in about two hours. The trail is wide and well kept, but a lot of hikers seemed to have forgotten their trail etiquette and were not yielding to those coming uphill. The summit is bare and topped by an interesting rock formation that you can climb to get 360 degree views of the area. Apparently on a clear day you can see Mt. Rainier, downtown Seattle and all the way to the Olympics! This was our view facing east.
We ended up not staying too long because it was absolutely freezing at the top and the clouds began to spit icy rain on us. Though I had been walking all day in a long sleeved shirt, once I got above the tree line I had to put on a down jacket, rain coat and beanie. My hands were exposed because I hadn’t thought to bring gloves and they soon were stinging with cold. Bear Grylls recommends peeing into a Ziploc bag and using it as a makeshift hot water bottle to warm your fingers, but I just put them in my pockets instead. It was not yet that dire. A lot of hikers were getting to the top and immediately starting back down again due to the cold rain and wind. Because our hands were so cold we did not attempt to climb the ‘haystack’ rock at the top, but many better prepared people were exploring the rocky area.
Coming back down was incredibly peaceful. After the feeling came back into my hands I enjoyed the descent. Most of the other hikers had gone down earlier and for long stretches we walked alone with just the sound of the rain filtering through the trees. The sun now sets before five and because we were on the east side of the mountain, the trail became very dark. The whole trip, including a really fast mountaintop picnic took four and half hours.
The parking lot is huge, but this hike is incredibly popular, on a sunny day I bet you would be served well by arriving early. There are outhouses at at the trailhead, but I would not recommend using them unless you want to be exposed to a deadly miasma. There a water spigot for you to fill your bottles right as the trail starts. If you’re planning a trip now in the off-season, I would bring as many warm clothes as you can.
We got our adventure pass at the Ace Hardware in North Bend. You can get them at local sporting good stores. It’s 30 dollars for a year long pass, so if you live in the Puget Sound area and hike a lot it’s completely worth the price.