Tiger Mountain Snow Hike

High avalanche danger today and extreme tomorrow. Snow all over the lowlands. I needed to be home fairly early. Where to go? Tiger Mountain fit the bill. I had not been up the Chirico trail to Poo Poo Point in a while so that was the choice. I drove south through Issaquah to the trailhead. The parking lot has been recently expanded and there were only a half dozen cars in the lot at 9:30. I was afraid the busy trail to Poo Poo would be packed down to solid ice. I was right. The snow/ice was thin at the bottom and I booted it. When the cover was total I opted for micro spikes. Slipping and sliding turned into easy walking. I passed one guy heading up and several groups coming down. They were most all slipping badly.

At the Mt. Rainier viewpoint I could see very little. The mountain was lost in the clouds. The south paraglider take off field was snow covered. Only 3-5 inches deep but all the grass was covered. I crossed the meadow and went back into forest. A few minutes later I was at the north point. I climbed up to the high point and enjoyed okay views down to Issaquah and out to Squak and Cougar Mountains. The conditions slowed me down as it took over an hour to hike 1.7 miles with about 1700' of gain.

I carried snowshoes and hoped to find that someone else broke trail above Poo Poo. I dropped to the parking lot and found tracks heading towards the West Tiger Railroad Grade. No need for snowshoes yet. It was 24 degrees at the start and 21 degrees as I began to climb to the grade. No wind and lots of climbing left me comfortably warm. At the four way junction there was one set going straight on the grade but a number of tracks heading up. No need for snowshoes.

Once past Poo Poo the ice gave way to snow. Less tracks meant snow with good traction. The micro spikes went back into my pack. I slowed more to take advantage of the photo opportunities. Heavy snowfall coated everything. Tiger Mountains seldom looks to good. At the Tiger Mountain Trail (TMT) most tracks went my way, to the right. Snow was 4-6 inches deep in the forest. Deeper where it was open to the sky. At the Hidden Forest Trail most tracks headed uphill. One set continued straight ahead. I headed up. The short steep climb to the road was not too bad. Still pretty good traction.

Snow on the road was deeper and untouched. A lone snowshoer came down. He set the track and now had packed it more coming down. It was good enough I had started to put on snowshoes but changed my mind when he came down. The Poo Top Trail was the steepest of the day and the lack of consolidation made it hard to get a good step set. A week earlier there was little or no snow here. It all fell in just a few days. I did fine climbing the last part but it was slow. It would have been slower if I had to set the track.

At the top I reached the road and found the gate into the towers was open. A single snowmobile track was on the road. I quickly dropped down to the Bypass Trail falling on my rear in the soft snow on the way. There were more tracks on this trail. Folks had come up the Preston Trail and laid in a good track. A few minutes later I popped up at the Hikers Hut. For the first time all day I found a strong cold wind. It was 19 degrees and with the wind it was very cold. I bundled up immediately. Over at the bench I found Chris hard at work building a wall for a wind break. He was chopping out igloo sized blocks of snow.

We started talking and I took advantage of the wall. Views were not too bad but clouds made everything at a distance appear fuzzy. It took my 3 hours to hike up just 4 miles. The snow and photos really slowed my down. With good company and the wind break I spent 40 minutes on top. At 1:10 I packed up and headed down. Rather than retrace my steps I chose to drop down the road. The snow was deeper than I expected. Probably 8-12 inches deep. I was able to plunge step down. As usual, after dropping about 75' I was in the trees and out of the wind. My face was painfully cold as were my fingers. It took quite a wile to warm them back up.

I planned to put on snowshoes for the road slog back to the Poo Top - Hidden Forest junction. Instead I found the snow to be deep but very powdery. If it was the usual Cascade concrete I would have needed snowshoes. I saw a number of animal tracks across the road but no footprints. The road walk was actually a highlight of the trip. The hike back to Poo Poo Point went fast. It took just an hour to drop about 2 1/2 miles. From Poo Poo on down I met many folks heading up. Almost none had traction devices and all were struggling. With micro spikes back on I had no trouble at all. I did see a woodpecker right along the trail and it stayed put long enough to get a good photo. Two woodpeckers and a few squirrels were all the wildlife I saw.

By 3:00 pm I was back at my car. This turned out to be one of the best Tiger Mountain hikes I have done. Also one of the snowiest. Lots of folks as expected below Poo Poo Point but very few people above. Snow heavily flocked trees and brush leaving the trail more beautiful than usual. I avoided avalanches and other people while getting in 8miles with 3200' of gain. A very nice winter day hike.

Snow Covers Everything
Encrusted Tree
Very Icy
South Viewpoint
Moss & Snow
View Of Issaquah
Squak Mountain
Poo Poo Summit
Fresh Snow
Heading Beyond Poo Poo
Climbing To RR Grade
Snowy Grade
On The TMT
Weighed Down By Snow
Poo Top Junction
Getting Deeper
Steeper & Deeper
View Of East Tiger
Open Gates
Snowy Limbs
Plastered Trees
Hikers Hut & Tiger 1
More Plastered
Chris & His Castle
Untouched Snow
Only My Tracks
Hazy Poo Poo View
New Issaquah HS
Downy Woodpecker
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2011