Linna wanted to complete another fall color hike before the season was over and from the WTA trip reports, Granite Mountain was reaching full peak. We met up with Mike Curry at the trail-head at sunrise and got an early start on the hike knowing that it was going to be a busy day on the mountain…especially on a beautiful fall sunny day.
The reports were accurate, vibrant fall colors decorated the mountain. Near the pond area and the back side were abundant with thick flamboyant fall leaves. We had lunch near the look-out tower huddle by some of rocks to protect us from the chilly wind.
On the decent we ran into hordes of hikers seeking the same pictures we took. Chloe Wei, Rick Freeman and Mike Curry enjoying another hiking day.
Rick Freeman & Mike Curry
The colors we were seeking…..near the pond.
Mike Curry, Linna Freeman and Rick Freeman loving Granite Mountain
Granite Mountain Date: May 27, 2017 Difficulty: 7 out of 10 Distance: 8.6 miles / 13.8 Kilometers round-trip Elevation Gain: 3,800 feet / 1,158 meters Time: 5 to 6 hours Location: Exit 47, I-90 Users Group: Hikers & Dogs Only Permits: Northwest Forest Pass Required Trail Conditions: Dry to Snow Packed Hiking With: Mike Curry, Linna Freeman, Matt Kerby, Craig Schilling, Tao Song & Macho
Curry, Kerby, Freeman & Schilling
Linna With Sunrise
Sunrise On Mt. Rainier
Macho The Dog Wonder
Seven of us decided that getting up at 1:00 a.m. to summit Granite Mountain to see the sunrise would be worth it…and we were right. Our group consisted of Mike Curry, Matt Kerby, Craig Schilling, Tao Song and my wife Linna Freeman. This will be the first sunrise hike for most of us and probably the earliest start for a hike too.
I am not sure how we decided on Granite Mountain for a sunrise hike, but we all knew they would be a lot of snow on top left over from a very wet/snowy winter. After reading the WTA trip reports, the avalanche conditions were minimal and post holing wasn’t an issue. We had to be a bit more cautious on the snow when it started to open up on top, there were numerous foot trails going in different directions, but I have been up Granite so many times I had a good feel for our direction to the summit.
Matt Kerby reached the summit in time to snap some beautiful sunrise pictures, some of the photos posted will be his art. There were many groups coming up as we were descending and by the time we got back to the parking lot it was nearly full.
Craig and Tao invited us back to their house for breakfast. Of course when we got back home Linna and I took a long nap.
Granite Mountain Date: June 3, 2016 Difficulty: 7 out of 10 Distance: 8.6 miles / 13.8 Kilometers roundtrip Elevation Gain: 3,800 feet / 1,158 meters Time: 4 to 5 hours Location: Exit 47, I-90 Users Group: Hikers & Dogs Only Permits: Northwest Forest Pass Required Trail Conditions: Dry to some packed snow Hiking With: Matt Kerby, Rick Massie and my wonderdog Macho
Rick Freeman On The Boulder Scramble
Rick Freeman At The Lookout Tower
My Wonder Dog Macho Cooling Down
My Suunto Watch Data
Rick Freeman Heading To The Tower
Matt Kerby & Rick Massie Chilling In The Snow
Granite Mountain has always been an essential hike for me and I have always told my wife Linna that I wanted my ashes tossed from this summit. Granite Mountain goo.gl/LdJsWz offers everything from dense forest cover, waterfall, open meadow, wild flowers, look-out tower, boulder scramble, late snow, long avalanche shoots and views to die for. Plus…the first mile of this hike is moderate so allows your legs to warm-up before you split off from the Pratt Lake trail and start some serious elevation gain.
I had the pleasure to introduce Granite Mountain to a newbie hiker and good friend of mine, Matt Kerby. I think Granite became his new favorite hike and I am sure he will be back very soon. Another friend and co-worker Rick Massie joined us on this glorious sunny Friday. We all met up at the trailhead at 5:30 a.m. to get an early start on the day, surprising though there was already six cars in the parking lot.
The summer route still had a lot of snow so we scrambled up the boulder field to the look-out tower. After a putting on a dry shirt and sucking down a Gu Energy Shot we descended the summer route in the snow. We pretty much had the trail and look-out tower to ourselves today.
Granite Mountain Date: April 9, 2015 Difficulty: 7 out of 10 Distance: 8.6 miles / 13.8 Kilometers roundtrip Elevation Gain: 3,800 feet / 1,158 meters Time: 4 to 5 hours Location: Exit 47, I-90 Users Group: Hikers & Dogs Only Permits: Northwest Forest Pass Required Trail Conditions: Dry to Fresh Snow At Higher Elevation Hiking With: Dr. Richard Stiles & my dog Macho
Stiles On The Backside
I knew we had a couple of sunny days approaching so I decided to take a day of vacation from work to hike Granite Mountain goo.gl/M4Xqcz just 47 miles East of Seattle. Even though the hike was in middle of the week, I was able to find an adventurous soul to appreciate this thigh pounding sunny hike; I picked up Dr. Richard Stiles mid-morning on Thursday and headed out to Exit 47 off Interstate 90.
The last time I hiked with Dr. Stiles was 10 years ago the summer of 2005 when I was training for Mt. Rainier. He hasn’t misplaced any speed with his pace either, the doctor led the way with a vigorous stride that totally impressed me.
Trail conditions were good until you broke-out in the high meadows and started hiking is semi-slushy snow. We decided to put on our traction devices on during our first break at the beginning of the basin where the snow was getting deeper. We started to ascend to the look-out tower via the basin and midway through traversed back up to the ridge and boulder field. The heavy snow in the basin definitely increased my heart rate, but my poor dog Macho had to deal with the deep snow and boulder field. There was a couple of times I actually had to pick him up to get him to the next boulder.
After a few pictures, warm tea and snacks at the summit we descended through the basin to finish off a perfect day.
Granite Mountain Date: August 1, 2014 Difficulty: 7 out of 10 Distance: 8.6 miles / 13.8 Kilometers roundtrip Elevation Gain: 3,800 feet / 1,158 meters Time: 4 to 5 hours Location: Exit 47, I-90 Users Group: Hikers & Dogs Only Permits: Northwest Forest Pass Required Trail Conditions: Dry to the top Hiking With: Rick Massie
Granite Calorie Burn
Fire Look-Out Tower
Freeman in Snow
The last time Rick Massie and I hiked up Granite was in extreme cold windy weather in November. This hike was just the opposite with plenty of sunshine and warm weather; on the descent you welcomed the shady areas because the sun was getting a little too warm.
We finished the hike with a cold pint of Mac & Jacks and a hot cup of Jambalaya soup at the North Bend Bar & Grill.
Granite Mountain Date: November 22, 2013 Difficulty: 7 out of 10 Distance: 8.6 miles / 13 Kilometers roundtrip Elevation Gain: 3,800 feet / 1,158 meters Time: 4 to 5 hours Location: Exit 47, I-90 Users Group: Hikers & Dogs Only Permits: Discovery Pass Required Trail Conditions: Wet to Frozen to Packed Snow. Hiking With: Rick Massie and Macho the dog wonder.
Freeman Layered Up
It has been unusually cold and sunny here in the Northwest, but to see the sun in November is a treat and one should take advantage of that. Rick Massie and I decided to hike Granite Mountain about one hour west from Seattle knowing we would have beautiful skies and abundant views from the summit.
We got an early start with only one car at the trailhead. The trail became snow packed about half way up where we stopped and put on our traction devices. It was damn windy as we came out of the trees into the open, we stopped and added layers. The wind was blowing a constant 30 mph plus on top, the last time I had so many layers on was maybe when summited Mt. Rainier in 2005.
After the hike, I warmed my mind, body and soul with a bowl of jambalaya soup at the North Bend Bar & Grill.
Granite Mountain Date: August 29, 2013 Difficulty: 7 out of 10 Distance: 8 miles / 13 Kilometers roundtrip Elevation Gain: 3,800 feet / 1,158 meters Time: 4 to 5 hours Location: Exit 47, I-90 Users Group: Hikers & Dogs Only Permits: Discovery Pass Required Trail Conditions: Wet Hiking With: Jim Darmiento, Rick Massie and Macho the dog wonder.
Massie & Darmiento
It has been over a year since I have hiked up the beautiful Granite Mountain so I was overdue. My friends Jim Darmiento and Rick Massie joined me for this wet fest of a hike. Seattle hadn’t had any rain for two months and today the rain decided to retaliate during our hike. The air was warm so we started off without rain gear, but of course we were saturated within the first mile. No biggie, we had dry clothes to change out at the top with.
Jim hadn’t hiked for a while so the pace was a little slower going up, but still made it to the look-out tower in a respectable time.
We started our Labor Weekend today and ended it with a cold beer at our favorite after hike hang out North Bend Bar & Grille.
Granite Mountain Date: July 27, 2012 Difficulty: 7 out of 10 Distance: 8 miles roundtrip Elevation Gain: 3,800 feet Time: 4 to 5 hours Location: Exit 47, I-90 Users Group: Hikers & Dogs Only Permits: Discovery Pass Required Trail Conditions: Dry to the top. Hiking With: Rick Massie
Snow On Back Route
Peak Pulse Rate
I have been absent from the Cascade mountains because of traveling so I was needing a Northwest hike to bring me back to reality. I asked Rick Massie to join me on one of my favorite local hiking trails, Granite Mountain.
Rick came by the house around 6:00 a.m. and loaded his gear into my car, but when I started the car up to take off…my 10 year old 530i decided he was tired. My battery was dead so I quickly got out the charger and started the beast up. We started at the trailhead around 7:15 a.m. and made it to the top in a couple of hours. The trail was dry to the top, but the normal summer route was still packed with snow. We took the boulder field all the way to the look-out tower.
After the hike, we met up with an ex-worker, Jenny Gregg at Duke’s on Lake Union for lunch and a cold beer.
Granite Mountain Date: June 3, 2012 Difficulty: 7 out of 10 Distance: 8 miles roundtrip Elevation Gain: 4,000 feet Time: 4 to 5 hours Location: Exit 47, I-90 Users Group: Hikers & Dogs Only Permits: Discovery Pass Required Trail Conditions: Dry to heavy snow at the top. Hiking With: Dr. Robert McElroy & Macho the Dog Wonder.
Dr. Robert McElroy invited me to hike with him and a few of his friends on Granite Mountain, exit 47 on I-90. The purpose of this hike was to stair-step the winter trail up to the forest ranger’s lookout tower and glissade down on the descent.
When we got out of our cars at the trailhead, there were a couple of forest rangers hanging around. Well, that meant Mr. Macho Man (my dog) had to be on the leash….which is totally miserable for me and him. So, I told Rob I would take off before the forest rangers did so I could take the leash off down the trail. I didn’t know the trail conditions or more importantly I didn’t know that one of the avalanche shoots had a major snow/mud avalanche around March and destroyed part of the trail about a third of a mile in. I tried to negotiate my way through the debris, but somehow I missed the trail and found myself on the other side of the mudslide completely unable to find the trail. I was able to use my cell phone and call the Doc, who was now ahead of me and gave me a little advice on where the trail was. After a hard push I caught up with the group in twenty minutes.
We wanted to take the winter route up, but due to a lack of snow….we stayed on the summer trail until we got out of the tree-line and took the snow straight up to the look-out tower. Snow conditions were perfect, no snowshoes needed http://youtube.com/watch?v=1Egl0SMdD0c&feature=g-upl. We stayed at the top long enough to change our wet shirts, munch down a sandwich and drink some hot tea.
It was a much faster pace down; descending in snow goes much quicker than a normal dry trail and much easier on old knees. When I got back down to the parking lot, a young couple asked me if they could get a ride back to Seattle because they lost their car keys on the trail. This meant that I had to forgo my stop at the North Bend Bar & Grill!
Granite Mountain Date: August 11, 2011 Difficulty: 7 out of 10 Distance: 8 miles roundtrip Elevation Gain: 4,000 feet Time: 4 to 5 hours Location: Exit 47, I-90 Users Group: Hikers & Dogs Only Permits: WTA Pass Required Trail Conditions: Dry, if you take the rocks. Hiking With: Yuta Hagi & my dog Macho
Peak Heart Rate
My Calorie Burn
For the past week, I have been waiting for a sunny day to take Yuta Hagi hiking with me. Yuta is Japanese and lives about one hour South of Tokyo. He came over to spend one week in Seattle to enjoy and study Northwest culture. I thought Granite Mountain (exit 47, I-90) would be the perfect choice for my friend….it’s challenging, great views and I knew there would be lingering snow yet. I decided on a later start hoping the clouds would vanish by the time we reached the top, the forecast was calling for sunny skies later in the day.
We started around 11:00 a.m., which was sunny at the trailhead and then got cloudy about two miles in. The cool part, we got above the cloud cover and then had an awesome view of the clouds below and the mountains surrounding us. Yuta did very well on his first Northwest hike, he stayed right behind me; I think this was his toughest hike yet. When we reached the pond, I threw some sticks in so Macho could fetch and cool his body off, we stopped at the pond on the way down too. The last time I did this hike 5 weeks ago, the pond had 3 feet of snow on it.
We took the rock scramble up and the snowy backside down. I helped and coached 3 ladies on the rock scramble, they were stopped at the beginning of the scramble and were thinking about heading back down. After relaxing on top in the sun for 1/2 hour, we headed down the back trail. Coming down in the snow was actually a lot fun, plus it was easy on my old knees. As usual, we stopped in at the North Bend Bar & Grill for a 9 Pound Porter and a cup of Jambalaya soup.