Granite Mountain

Time for another headlamp hike. Soon the days will be so short and the weather bad enough to keep us closer to town. Time for one more long and steep hike near Snoqualmie Pass. Since Gary, John, and David are rocked fast and since I wanted to take some time for photos, and because I could, I headed out a little ahead of them. I reached the Pratt Trailhead at 4:12 pm and I was on the trail at 4:19. John called me when they were close to the trailhead to let me know the amount of my lead. Enough time to get to the top ahead of them, about 25 minutes. I reached the Granite Mountain junction in 18 minutes. So far so good. On the way up I passed just over a dozen hikers coming down.

It was sunny at the trailhead with a slight breeze. Not far up I could hear the wind roaring in the tree tops. I was soon thinking about the temperature at the summit some 3800' up at sunset if that wind was howling. When I came out of the trees the wind was thankfully pretty gentle. Just enough to keep me cool. I managed to drop my "Cascade Land Conservancy" green hat along the trail. The others coming up behind me did not see it. If one of the hikers I passed picked it up and they see this please contact me.

I checked my progress at the one hour mark and I had gained 2165'. Not bad on a trail that is not all that smooth after the first mile. There is a little color higher up but not close to normal. This fall has not been good for blazing leaves. After traversing the south face the trail reaches a southeast ridge and that's where I picked up the wind. Bright sun blinding me with no hat brim and a very cold wind gusting to 15+ mph. This was just a "warm up" for what was above. As long as I was working hard going up the cold was not too bad.

I entered the basin below the summit with a good view up to the lookout. I lost the rapidly setting sun here and it was much colder. On the final switchbacks I almost stopped to put on more layers but wanted to see what my non stop time would be to the summit. I was glad to see that Gary would not be able to make up the whole 25 minute lead I started with. The wind was really strong on top. Gust to about 25 mph. I hunkered down out of the wind and put on a long sleeve shirt, puffy layer and jacket plus gloves. It was as cold as any winter trip I did last year.

I reached the summit at 6:13 pm. 1:54 with photo stops was a very good time for me. Just about 4 1/2 miles with 3800' of gain. Gary arrived only 7 minutes later. We both made the cold boulder scramble the short distance to the high point and retreated to our less windy spot. David arrived next and then John. Gary's thermometer showed that it was about 41 degrees. With the wind chill it felt well below freezing. It was still clear and we had great views to all the surrounding peaks. Even a bit of alpenglow.

John did not get much time on top as we packed up and headed down at 6:45 pm. Sunset in Seattle was at 6:55 pm so we had only 10 minutes to go. There is still a little snow in the basin though not much. It might last until the snow flies again soon. We dropped down to the basin then down towards the tarn. As we rounded the rocky ridge we had nice views south and west. The setting sun put on a nice display with some great colors. I had to stop for a few more photos. We could see headlights 3000' below us on the highway in the valley. We still had a little light left.

By the time we reached the first trees it was time to stop and put on headlamps.  With lights from four of us the trail was easy to see.  Even with all the rocks we had no problems. Once down to the Pratt Trail the going was even easier. We cruised back the last mile at a good pace. It was no surprise to see no other cars in the lot. We reached the trailhead at 8:35 pm. The time coming down was pretty close to the time heading up.

Once we rounded the southeast ridge the wind again dropped markedly. I was down to short sleeves the last couple miles. This was a fun trip. We had a blast of winter in the middle of a fall trip. Mediocre leaf color but great sunset colors. One nice thing about the late return was the light traffic in Seattle. Soon we will slogging up Tiger Mountain in the dark and rain but for now it was nice to get in another after work hike to a high peak.

Humpback Mountain
First Fall Color
Green & Red
Late Bloomer
Indian Paintbrush
Into The Wind
Beargrass Stalks
Lookout In Sight
Granite Mt. Summit
In The Shade
Below Lookout
Blooming Beargrass
Kaleetan & Chair Pks
Glacier Peak
Reaching Lookout
Granite's Shadow
Group On Summit
Heading Down
Mt. Rainier At Sunset
Setting Sun
Colorful Mt.Rainier
Colorful McClellan Butte
A Few Minutes Later
Final Color
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2011