Chirico - Tiger 1 Loop

Instead of the usual roughly 7 miles with 2400' of gain midweek after work headlamp hike, we set our sights a little higher. On the drive to Issaquah I passed through a nasty double speed wiper squall. It was heading right for Tiger. An accident had traffic on the Issaquah-Hobart Road moving at 5 mph. By the time I arrived it was near 4:30 pm. David was in the traffic behind me and Gary and John had already arrived. Since I'm a little slower I headed out first. The rain did come but it was light and after about 25 minutes my umbrella was stowed for the rest of the night. I made it about half way up to Poo Poo Point before darkness caused me to don my headlamp. Surprisingly, there were a number of groups heading down in the dark. Our timing was perfect as the group caught up with me right at the upper launch site at Poo Poo Point. It was drizzling and misty so my one photo of the lights of the city was not very inspiring.

We headed on to the West Tiger Railroad Grade and the junction with the One View Trail. I have hiked these trails many times but it was quite different in the dark for the first time. 8/10ths of a mile later on the One View Trail we reached the Tiger Mountain Trail (TMT). We turned right and in just a few minutes reached the Hidden Valley Trail. This short steep climb brought us to the West Side Road and the start of the Poo Top Trail. This trail has some steep spots as it follows the ridge up to West Tiger 1.

I was comfortable with no gloves, a ball cap and shirt sleeves rolled up with just light polypro on my arms. That changed quickly at about 2600'. Suddenly it was sleeves down, gloves on, and cold ears. It felt like an immediate ten degree drop. Soon we had a thin coat of snow in the ground. It never covered all the ground and did not cause and navigation problems. We popped out at the summit of Tiger 1 and quickly dropped down to the Bypass Trail. a short time later we were at the Tiger 1 viewpoint and the Hikers Hut. This metal conical building is shunned on warm days but the wind was blowing hard and it was 32 degrees. We headed inside. Without the wind it was not nearly so cold. We had a quick dinner. It took us about 2.5 hours to hike up 5 miles with 3000' of gain. This was going to be a late finish.

We charged out of the hut and headed down the road. The first part in the wind was frigid. Soon we were back in the trees and it was not so bad. Even with gloves my fingers were now cold. The toughest part of the night time route finding was getting on the short connector trail to the TMT. It is unmarked and hard to see. We knew it was just past the low point between Tiger 1 and Tiger 2. While it is not on any paper maps it is on the NW Trails free software for both John's and my GPS units. That helped to narrow our search. We found the trail right away. Down on the TMT the route has a number of ups and downs as it crosses a series of creeks. On the TMT we were completely out of the wind once again and warmth returned to my fingers.

John recorded one mile on the TMT until we reached the One View junction. This completed our loop and we now retraced our steps back down. Thankfully the rain held off as we had just a few sprinkles. Back at Poo Poo Point it was much clearer and I took one more photo of the lights of Issaquah. All the steps on the last mile of trail were tiring but not as bad as I feared in the dark. It was 9:30 when we reached the cars. Both GPS units recorded about 9.75 miles though it often turns out to be slightly less when errors are edited. The elevation gain was close to 3400'. Significantly more than most winter headlamp hikes. As expected, after the first 1.5 miles we saw nobody else.

This turned out to be a really fun evening. The feared hard rain did not materialize. The trails were in good shape. While we took 5 hours total it went by fast with the good company. I doubt we will do many headlamp trips this long until the longer light days of spring. Still, it was fun to get in a real leg stretcher in the dark.

Misty Issaquah
Clear At 8:40 pm
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2012