BUT, last week I went on a hike that must be talked about and shared. My good friend Carol invited me on what is called a "Wednesday conditioner" hike with her Mountaineers group. What I failed to grasp before starting this hike was that I was hiking with a group of mountain climbers who literally climb Washington peaks on the weekend...in fact Carol climbed Mt. Baker just 3 days prior. She told me the stats of the hike...about 7 miles round trip, ~3,000 feet elevation gain and said it was similar to Mt. Si. I've done that hike before...no problemo...this was even shorter.
McClellan Butte is located just east of North Bend off I-90 so very accessible to the Seattle crowd, even on a week night. We did the "slacker" route so instead of starting down at I-90 you drive up a gravel road about 1,000 feet up and start from there...I would in NO way describe this as slacker FYI! We arrived around 5:20 and met some other Mountaineer folks. We left our cars and began our accent and within 5 minutes everyone had passed us (and by us I mean me since I was just slowing Carol down). The trail has some very steep inclines but did offer some more gradual ones for some "recovery".
|View along the way|
I stopped multiple times to take some pictures (read: stop because I felt like throwing up) and really struggled to to keep a good pace. Running shape does NOT equal hiking shape BTW, especially when you are hiking with mountain climbers...need to remember this next time. Carol suggested that I just take it really slowly but keep moving, which ended up being good advice and the rest of the way wasn't as terrible ;).
|Carol and I|
Once we about 3/4 of the way up we wound around the backside of the mountain and it flattened out a ton which was amazing. I got my heart rate back to normal...that was until I saw what stood between us and the summit!
|See those tiny people up there...that was me at one point!|
You had to scramble up those rocks to reach the views and everyone promised me is was much easier than it looked. I didn't believe them for one second but turns out they were right. Carol went ahead of me and just told me to take every step and hand hold that she did. I did just that and NEVER looked down and made it safely to the summit! To say it was the best views I've ever had on a hike would be an understatement! The sun was just setting and you could literally see for MANY miles 360 degrees around.
|You are going to want to click on this pic to see it in all its glory!|
That would be Mt. Rainier with the moon directly above it. I really wish I would have brought my nice camera with me but my phone didn't do a terrible job. Of course, most of the group was already partying on the summit before we got there and by partying I mean drinking beer and champagne. One guy literally brought a 12 pack of beer up the mountain...hard core! I inhaled the snacks I brought and chugged more Nuun...which thank goodness I brought two bottles of!
|Nuun looks good on a mountain in the sunset ;)|
I don't usually like to linger at mountain summits because all I can think of is how we have to go back down. Carol informed me that our pace would be quick on the way down and I was a-ok with that...hiking in the pitch black kind of scared the crap of me to be honest. We were one of the first ones off the mountain and the only thing that made the rustling in the bushes not so scary was the fact that we knew people were behind us somewhere!
Carol was much more sure of her footing since she hikes ALL the time so as she pretty much sped walked down the mountain while I jogged when I could and then took it slower other times. My legs felt pretty good going down which was a welcome relief and then all of the sudden we were at the car. I've never been so happy to see a car in my life.
I would highly highly recommend this hike for the views alone, but as the days get shorter I would do this on a weekend if you don't want to climb down in the dark. If our Fall is even half as good as our Summer I imagine there are still many more hiking weekends left before the rain and snow start coming in.
And now whenever I drive over I-90 and see this peak I can be proud to know I hiked up that beast!
Question: Anyone else still hiking out there? Where should I go before the snow rolls in?