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 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.

Source Lake, February 2016

Source Lake Snowshoe
Date:
February 19, 2016
Difficulty: 6 out of 10
Distance: 4.8 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1,400 feet
Time: 3 to 4 hours
Location: I-90 exit 52; Alpental Ski Area
Users Group: Hikers & Leashed Dogs Only
Permits: No Permits Required
Trail Conditions: 8″ to 10″ of fresh fluffy snow
Hiking with: Jim Darmiento, Rick Massie and my faithful dog Macho.

Timing is everything when it comes to snowshoeing and we hit a perfect day with 8 inches of new snow. The only time I like tromping in the snow is when it’s fresh and I am the first one marching on it. Only way this can happen is if it snowed the night before and you get up damn early to get to the snow first.

I met up with my good friends Jim Darmiento and Rick Massie in North Bend, Washington and we drove to exit 52 off of I-90 past Alpental ski area. We made it to Source Lake in good time and we decided to turn around at the lake due to avalanche conditions.

We came across only two other snowshoers that was nice enough to take a few pictures of us. We wanted to end our day at the Mt. Si tavern, but they were not open yet so we found ourselves at our old hangout North Bend Bar & Grill.

Mason Lake Hike, November 2015

Mason Lake
Date:
November 13, 2015
Difficulty: 5 out of 10
Distance: 6.5 Miles / 10 Kilometers Roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 2,550 Feet / 777 Meters
Time: 3 to 4 hours
Location: Exit 45, I-90
Users Group: Hikers & Dogs Only
Permits: Northwest Forest Pass
Trail Conditions: Wet to Very Wet
Hiking with: Jim Darmiento, Rick Massie and my faithful dog Macho

During the summer you are lucky to find a parking spot at the Ira Spring trailhead, but we were the only brave souls to utilize our rain gear on this blistery rainy morning. This was my first time in 10 years to see only our car in the parking lot all day…it was just weird.

Wet and damn wet. That pretty much describes our saturated hike to Mason Lake www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/ira-spring-memorial. We started off determined to summit Bandera Mountain, but when we came to the split to Mason Lake or Bandera my good friends Jim Darmiento and Rick Massie voted for the less exposed and the more sheltered type route to the lake.

If it wasn’t for the new bridge across Mason Creek, this would have been a short roundtrip hike of 1.6 miles. The creek was raging and it was dangerously impossible to cross without the bridge. We finished this hike with a bowl of Jambalaya and a proper pint of Mac & Jacks www.macandjacks.com at the North Bend Bar & Grill www.northbendbarandgrill.com.

On the drive back to Seattle, Jim Darmiento and I decided to stop at Snoqualmie Falls, the falls were rampant and furious due to the substantial precipitation in the last few days.

Rachel Lake Hike, May 2015

Rachel Lake
Date: May 21, 2015
Difficulty: 5 out of 10
Distance: 8.0 Miles / 12.8 Kilometers Roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1,600 feet / 487 Meters
Time: 4 to 5 hours
Location: Exit 62 of I-90 in Washington
Users Group: Hikers & Dogs Only
Permits: Discovery Pass
Trail Conditions: Dry to the lake
Hiking With: Jim Darmiento, Rick Massie & my fearless dog Macho

My wife Linna is always complaining that I do the same Washington hikes through-out the year, well today I would have made her proud. It was my good friend Jim Darmiento that suggested we try Rachel Lake wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/rachel-lake hike for something new; exit 62 off of I-90 in the state of Washington. It turned out to be a worthy hike with abundance of waterfalls through-out day.

The elevation gain seemed much more than what is posted on the Washington Trails Association website…which was 1,600 feet, but for some reason it felt more like 2,500 feet or more. Once we hit the summit, Jim got out his Jetboil and heated some water up for our lunch at the lake. I came damn close to jumping in, but my body said no….pretty much ice water temperature right now.

We didn’t see too many people all day….just like it should be.

Mailbox Peak Hike, April 2015

Mailbox Peak
Date: April 24, 2015
Difficulty: 9 out of 10
Distance: 7.5 Miles / 12 Kilometers Roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 4,000 feet / 1,219 Meters
Time: 4 to 5 hours
Location: Near North Bend, Washington
Users Group: Hikers & Dogs Only
Permits: Discovery Pass
Trail Conditions: Wet to Snow-packed
Hiking With: Sam Elder, Rick Massie & my dog Macho

The last time I hiked up Mailbox Peak goo.gl/y3ANNn was pretty much the same conditions, wet with blowing sleet on top. Today’s hike actually turned out better than the forecast which was calling for rain all day. We started around 8:00 a.m. on the old steep trail with cloudy skies, but no rain until we hit the top and it started sleeting some.

I invited my friend Sam Elder to join Rick Massie and myself on this brutalizing journey to the famous Mailbox Peak 34 miles East of Seattle. Sam hasn’t hiked in a couple of years and he had no idea what he was getting himself into, but he made it to the summit with only a few hesitations along the way.

Right before we started up the last steep part out in the open we changed out into dry shirts and left our backpacks behind for a quicker scramble to the mailbox. After a few pictures we descended down the new long 5 mile route. I have now descended twice on the new trail and again it just feels forever, but it still trumps the knee pounding old steep trail.

Mailbox Peak Hike, December 2014

Mailbox Peak
Date: December 27, 2014
Difficulty: 9 out of 10
Distance: 7.5 Miles / 12 Kilometers Roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 4,000 feet / 1,219 Meters
Time: 4 to 5 hours
Location: Near North Bend, Washington
Users Group: Hikers & Dogs Only
Permits: Discovery Pass
Trail Conditions: Wet to Snow-packed
Hiking With: Paul Bates, Carl Brandt, Gustav Brandt, Mike Curry, Emelie Espling and Rick Massie

My friend Emelie Espling had two friends from Sweden visiting and I thought I would introduce them to the thigh pounding Mailbox Peak. The last time I hiked the Mailbox goo.gl/y3ANNn was a year ago August with Rick Massie so I was past due for some grueling physical exertion. Our group consisted of Paul Bates, Mike Curry, Emelie Espling, Rick Massie, Carl and Gustav Brandt from Sweden.

The new trail wasn’t open the last time I was here so I was looking forward to the new 5 mile trail on the descent to save on the knees. The young men from Sweden was quick to take off and we eventually saw them again about 100 yards from the Mailbox on their descent. The last 1000 feet of elevation was snow packed with blizzard like conditions on the final push to the summit.

Kudos to the many WTA volunteers that constructed the new 5 mile route to the top, but after seeing the many ill equipped “tourist” hikers in their running shoes I think Mailbox Peak will see more rescues. The majority people that came up the new easy route didn’t have the proper gear to summit this intimidating peak and only putting themselves and others at risk. I first started hiking Mailbox Peak 13 years ago when there was only a toothbrush marking the trailhead; you only came across bonafide hikers and many climbers training for Mount Rainier, sadly WTA has created another Mt. Si.

Our group took the new longer route down which was nice on the legs but it seemed to go on forever! We ended our hike in a heavy downpour and eventually found ourselves at the North Bend Bar & Grill for cold beers and warm grub.

Mount Teneriffe, August 2014

Mount Teneriffe
Date: August 22, 2013
Difficulty: 8 out of 10
Distance: 11 miles / 17.7 Kilometers roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 3,840 feet / 1170 meters
Time: 5 to 6 hours
Location: Exit 32, I-90 Near North Bend, Washington
Users Group: Hikers & Dogs Only
Permits: Discovery Pass
Trail Conditions: Dry
Hiking With: Rick Massie

I was looking for a tough hike and Mount Teneriffe fulfilled the mission. Rick Massie and I took the Kamikaze Falls route and then followed the ridgeline to the summit. This is not an easy hike for anyone…you either hike the 11 mile route we did or the lengthy 14 mile logging road both coming out with 3,800 feet elevation gain.

It took 3 hours to make it to the summit, but as always it was well worth it. We got to enjoy the summit and the 360 degree views by ourselves. We descended via the logging road and ended our day at Local…a West Seattle neighborhood tavern in Seattle.

Granite Mountain Hike, August 2014

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

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.

Denny Creek Hike, July 2014

Denny Creek Trail
Date:
July 24, 2014
Difficulty: 5 out of 10
Distance: 9 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 2,300 ft
Time: 4 to 5 hours
Location: I-90 exit 47
Users Group: Hikers & Leashed Dogs Only
Permits: Northwest Forest Pass Required
Trail Conditions: Wet to the top
Hiking with: Jim Darmiento, Rick Massie and the wonder dog Macho.

Jim Darmiento, Rick Massie and I had this hiked planned for a couple of weeks and usually the full month of July is sunny and warm. Somehow we picked the only rain day in July; it was raining when we started and was still raining when we finished…we were truly soaked by the time we got back to Jim’s pick-up.

To remove the chill from our bones we headed to North Bend Bar & Grille for a warm bowl of Jambalaya.

Bandera Mountain Hike, July 2014

Bandera Mountain
Date: July 4, 2014
Difficulty: 6 out of 10
Distance: 8 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 3,400 feet
Time: 4 to 5 hours
Location: Exit 45, I-90
Users Group: Hikers & Dogs Only
Permits: Discovery Pass Required
Trail Conditions: Dry to the top
Hiking With: Mike Curry, Rick Massie, Jim Powell and my dog Macho.

I didn’t hike Bandera at all last year, but for some reason I have already hit the top of this hike three times this year. What I like about this hike it gives you a mile of warm up on easy grade going into a moderate grade and then onto a thigh pounding son-of-bitch ending with magnificent views with the bonus of Mt. Rainier in your face.

Mike Curry, Rick Massie and Jim Powell joined me on a beautiful July 4th holiday. We started on the trail around 8:00 a.m. and made it to the top less than two hours. For some reason this hike is becoming a lot like Mt. Si…voluminous of people on weekends and holidays. Totally recommend starting before 8:00 a.m. on weekends or you will be parking along the dusty road.

I brought up a quart of homemade chicken rice soup that my wife Linna made that I warmed up on my trusty MSR stove/pan. After a nice lunch, rest and photo-ops it was time to descend and weave through the masses of people heading up. We ended with a cold pitcher of Mac & Jacks at Sure Shot Tavern in North Bend, Washington; this wasn’t our normal watering hole…North Bend Bar & Grill was closed due to the July 4th holiday.