Mt. Jupiter is a hike I have planned
several times in the past. Each time the weather turned poor and I ended
up going far to the east. I tried one more time and the weather was great.
If anything it was too hot. It was clear and the views were spectacular.
Gary was free and joined me. We met in Federal Way and it was almost exactly
2 hours from there to the trailhead. The Mt. Jupiter road is .9 miles north
of the Duckabush River. There are multiple spur roads but all the major
ones had signs. There are no trees to impair ones view from the trailhead.
Hood Canal is just below. The Brothers can also be seen from there. We
were on the trail at 9:00 am. 15 people in several groups left just ahead
of us. So much for solitude... The trail begins by switchbacking up to near
the top of the ridge. In this first section we managed to pass all 15 hikers.
It was warm when we started and only became warmer as the day went on.
After gained about 900' the trail flattened. In fact we netted only about
another 600' in the next 3+ miles. There were several ups and downs. The
largest lost 200'. The first 5 miles are mostly in forest. There are a
few viewpoints to the south. Rhododendrons go much higher up the mountain
than I was expecting. At the trailhead and for several hundred feet above
the rhrody flowers are finished. Higher up they are very much still in
bloom. We continued to see them until well above 4000'.
Since the middle of the trail is so flat it goes
very quickly. A little before the 5 mile mark there is a viewpoint just
off the trail. The Duckabush Valley is below, The Brothers are high above,
and Hood Canal is to the east. There is a huge waterfall just below The
Brothers that is most spectacular. A few minutes later we reached the wilderness
boundary. The first 5 miles took us 2 hours. With only 2 miles left it
looked like lunch at noon on top. It was getting very hot now. The trail
left the dense forest and became more and more in the open. There were flowers
in the forest but they really exploded higher up. In addition to the rhododendrons
we saw paintbrush, columbine, phlox, heather, penstemon, and many more.
By the time we had reached about 6 miles we were scratching our heads. We
were only about a mile from the summit but we were reading about 1200' to
go. Finally the trail ended the long traverse and began to switchback up
the slope. At this point a hiker passed us coming down. The heat was really
getting to me and I slowed considerably. Gary wanted to sprint to the summit
so I gave him the OK to take off. The upper section of trail is one of the
best I have hiked. The views of the Olympics and the Cascades get better
and better. The trail is airy without having any really exposed spots. A
few sections were blasted out of the hillside. When the trail first reached
the ridge top views opened to the north. All five Washington volcanoes were
visible. It was so clear that there was not a single cloud in the sky. Even
at my glacially slow pace I managed to pass one hiker. I finally reached
the summit about 15 minutes after Gary. He had done Jupiter back in 1986
but on a cloudy day with no views.
The location of Jupiter gives it much better views
than it's 5701' elevation would suggest. It is very close to Hood Canal
with no other peaks near by. The Duckanbush River on the south and the Dosewallips
on the north carve deep valleys on both sides. We could peaks in British
Columbia and Mt. St. Helens down near Oregon. Seattle is just east and downtown
is very clear. The Olympic peaks are visible from Washington in the south
to Mt. Townsend in the north. The Brothers and Mt. Constance seem the largest.
I think I recognized Mt. Anderson as well. After lunch the masses arrived.
The summit is large enough for 20 people but it was a little too loud for
us. We hiked around the north side of the summit to a point where we could
see Jupiter Lakes. One is mostly clear and another is snow covered. The
north side of the peak still has a fair amount of snow. There was not a drop
on the trail. We found a secluded spot in the shade of a large rock and
relaxed. On of the best parts of the hike was the long summit stay. We spent
nearly 3 hours on top.
At 3:00 we packed up and headed down. In the first
1/2 mile we passed several groups still coming up. They were going very
slow in the heat of the day. The trip down was long and uneventful. After
the first 2+ miles we reentered forest and it cooled down immensely. We stopped
at several viewpoints and had a liesurely hike down. The 100 hikes guide
lists this trip at 14 miles and 3600' gained. Don't believe it. It is about
14 1/2 and 4400' with ups and downs. It was a brutally hot day but it was
worth it to have such clear views. This is a great trip for strong hikers.
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.
Near Summit View
Photo Page 2