weekend with only half of one day free. I needed something close but
not another trip up West Tiger 1, 2, or 3. I decided to head a little
farther east to East Tiger. Passing High Point at 8:45 am there must
have been 60 cars outside of the gate. I was glad to not be in that
crowd. I turned off on Highway 18 and 4 miles later I was at the Tiger
Summit trailhead. Only 3 other vehicles in the lot. The lot was about
40% dirt and 60% water. I navigated the lakes (puddles) to find a dry
place to park. By 9:03 I was on my way. The forecast was for mostly
sunny and I was looking forward to it. Hmm... The thick cloud level was
not far above my head.
The start is at 1377'. The summit of East Tiger is 3004'. I went around
the right gate and immediately found a pond full of bright yellow skunk
cabbage. I guess spring is here after all. After all the mountain snow
we've had the past month. Within a few hundred vertical feet of
climbing there was some snow along the road. I left my gaiters and
winter boots at home because there would not be any snow this far west
on Tiger Mountain. Well there was.
My 1700' most of the road had a fresh white covering. I saw one set of
boot prints, some dog prints, and a couple bike tire tracks. A little
more than a mile up I met the hiker and dog. They had just turned
around and were heading down. The bike tracks ended soon after. Now
there was just fresh snow and animal tracks. A deer cut across the road
some time earlier. There were bird and rabbit tracks too. A
set of dog like tracks continued heading higher.
These tracks baffled me. Several feet apart and one minute close
together then 3 feet apart. What could have made them? I still have no
idea. My umbrella came out when a rain/sleet squall blew through. Ten
minutes later it was done and that was it for precipitation for the
day. I was in the clouds and visibility was minimal. The snow plastered
trees and misty clouds made it feel much different than the usual road
walk. The snow cover on the road helped with the aesthetics too.
This is not a great hike on a sunny day but it was very nice on this
snowy day. Easy walking and no other people. I have seen bikes on most
trips up this road but the deepening snow made that pretty unlikely. I
didn't expect to see any tracks until well down the mountain. On a trip
up last fall it only took 73 minutes to reach the summit. The snow
slowed my down and there was no way to go that fast. Past the 2 1/2
mile marker it was about 3 4 inches deep. I was wishing I had my
gaiters as the snow was sure to be deeper up high. At 2 3/4 miles I
reached the "T" junction. Left and uphill leads to the summit of East
Tiger. I was very surprised to find three sets of footprints coming
down the way I was heading up.
These tracks made it much easier. The tracks looked very fresh, as if
they had been made earlier this day. It was only 10:00 am. Where were
they heading in snow this early? They did not start at Tiger Summit.
These very unexpected tracks made it much easier for me. It only took a
little under an hour to hike up the first 2 3/4 miles. It took another
40 minutes to hike the next 1.1 miles, even with the boot tracks. At
the next junction the tracks turned left and headed up East Tiger as
They must have come over on the trail from the Tiger 1 area. In places
the snow was up to 6 - 8 inches deep but in some places it was only 3
or 4 inches. Where the trail came in I found the hikers tracks. They
also headed uphill. My luck was holding. They set a track to the summit
and stomped it even better coming back down. It wasn't much farther to
the top. The towers were in the clouds. I could see the tops on and
off. The picnic table had about 6" on top. There were spots with 8-10
inches. Gary and John did an evening hike to 2750' on Tiger 2 just
three days earlier. They saw no new snow. Now I was at 3000' and there
was plenty of it.
It was still 33 degrees. It seemed to be the same temperature all the
way up. I could hear the sound of ice falling off the towers. It was
cold and a little windy so my stay was short. Zero views out through
the clouds. I arrived at 10:39 and By 10:50 I was on my way down. It
was much faster and easier slogging down through the snow. When I
reached the gate I heard voices and saw the first people since the
hiker with his dog. After a brief conversation I continued down.
Since discovering it last spring I now include a quick visit to Sally's
Summit. At the junction I turned left on deep untouched snow. Where
were my gaiters again? The yellow gate was open. It's not far from the
junction. I headed right off the road and found the boot path heading
up. The snow was much thinner in the trees. It just took a few minutes
to reach the top. I turned around and headed right back down. At the
road I had the bright idea to follow the road down 120' to get up to
2000' of gain for the day. The snow was quickly knee deep and I
realized just what a dumb idea that was. Instead I slogged back to the
gate and went up Sally's summit again. With 2000' of gain in the bag it
was time to head back.
The trip down went pretty quickly. I met 4 or 5 groups heading up. More
crowded than I expected but nothing like the other side of Tiger
Mountain. I even met several bikes heading up. I wonder how far they
made it. By 12:35 I was back at my car. The lot was nearly full. The
Iverson Railroad and Northwest Timber Trails which are mountain bike
favorites are closed in the winter and will reopen after April 15th.
There will be a lot more bikes around then.
It may by April but it was mid winter on East Tiger Mountain. Fun to
have the road covered in fresh snow with no tracks. Even better to find
tracks higher up to make my travel much easier. A good quick morning
hike with 8 miles and 2000' of gain. Close to Seattle but without the
crazy crowds on West Tiger 3. All in all, a very nice day to be in the
close in mountains.