Granite Mountain Sunrise Hike, May 2017

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

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.

Mt. Baker Trip, March 2017

Six of us spent a 3 day weekend in Glacier, Washington enjoying the Mt. Baker area and the vast open country for snowshoeing.

Granite Mountain Hike, June 2016

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

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 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.

Hex Mountain Snowshoe, March 2016

Hex Mountain Snowshoe
March 12, 2016
Difficulty: 6 out of 10
Distance: 7 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 2,600 feet
Time: 3 to 4 hours
Location: I-90 exit 80; Near Cle Elum Lake
Users Group: Hikers & Leashed Dogs Only
Permits: No Permits Required
Trail Conditions: Packed to Fresh Snow
Hiking with: Jim Darmiento, Linna Freeman, Matt Kerby and my dog Macho

Knowing that our Northwest snowshoeing season is ending soon it was time for another snowshoe experience and my wife Linna will not do the same mountain twice so I was tasked to find a new peak for us. Hex Mountain has been popping up on trip reports on Washington Trails Association and I thought it was time to mark this mountain off my list. Maybe I would have done this peak sooner if it was a bit closer to home, but 180 mile round trip is a lot of travel time and you’ll need to drive over the weather beaten Snoqualmie pass twice.

Our exploration party consisted of my lovely wife Linna and my good friends Jim Darmiento and Matt Kerby. None of us have attempted this trek before and we had a difficult time finding the trailhead but managed to find the right area to start. Well…we had to ask a few people after driving back and forth along Cle Elum Lake a couple of times.

Due to a lack of snow at the base of the mountain we packed in our snowshoes until we hit enough snow to put on our Tubbs Flex VRT 28 snowshoes. I must add a Freeman review about these snowshoes because I truly love these badass snow stompers. I am overwhelmed how easy it is to secure the Tubbs Flex to your boot, their patented Boa closure system is fast and easy to use which is extremely important when you are putting them on in freezing weather. The round control knob or Boa dial is large enough to use with thick gloves and the foam pad that wraps around your boot when you are turning the knob distributes the pressure of the binding equally across your boot. Not only is the Flex VRT is easy to put on, they are very comfortable to wear all day on all types of terrain. I own five pairs of various snowshoes and this season I am only wearing my Tubbs Flex VRT’s!

We really didn’t follow a trail up but blazed our own route to the summit…well we thought it was Hex peak. We hit some pretty steep terrain making our way to the top weaving through the trees. Maybe the distance and lack of fresh snow kept people way from this mountain because we only saw one other group of people…just as it should be. I am looking forward to this trek early next season with fresh heavy snow all the way to the base of the mountain.

We ended our day with lunch at the Roslyn Café in Roslyn, Washington.