Tiger Mountain New Year's Eve

The last day of the year almost always means I'll be out hiking on Tiger Mountain. This would be the 31st time in 32 years. Gary was under the weather so it was just John and I. We met at the High Point exit off I-90 at 8:20 am. I then drove us down to the High School trailhead in Issaquah. This would be a one way trip. It was about 25 degrees when we started out. Two young women went by us early on as we stopped for photos of frosted leaves. We made a lot of photo stops. John and Gary did a trip up Tiger 1 via the nearby Chirico Trail just a few weeks earlier. They had to break trail in the then recent deep snow. Our route was a little longer but we expected to have the track packed down most of the way. We headed up the old road/trail to the Power Line Corridor. Under the power lines and onto the Poo Poo Point Trail. This old road gains elevation at a steady rate much of the way.

We noticed single Christmas ornaments hanging on trees in several places. One was right before the big bridge in Many Creek Valley. After that the old road ends the the trail gets a bit steeper. We climbed to about 1500' before having any snow on the trail. The first thin snow was icier than I expected. We soon met the two women who were now sliding down the trail. It was time for us to put on microspikes. They stayed on for most of the rest of the hike. At the railroad grade the snow was thicker and less icy. We headed up the One View Trail. There are several arches where the trail goes right underneath. They were highlighted in snow and very beautiful. There were several logs down but they did not provide much difficulty. With microspikes we had great traction.

At the Tiger Mountain Trail (TMT) we turned right. We quickly reached the Hidden Forest Trail and headed steeply uphill once again. A few minutes later we reached the Tiger Mountain Road. Snow was deeper here without the forest. Across the road we headed up the Poo Top Trail. John and Gary had painstakingly broken trail up this steep trail. We had a much easier time. Many of the trees along the ridge have very short bare limbs. They were coated with snow. With blue sky overhead and a little sun filtering through the trees it was worth a number of photo stops. It was calm most of the way up but the wind was blowing on the ridge. It was much colder. There were only a few more footprints added to the ones John and Gary had set. Easy enough walking but not as set a trench as I expected.

We popped out onto the road at the summit of Tiger 1. The gate is open so it is not snowed shut. We took a short break and headed down to the Bypass Trail. From there it was an easy hike to the Hiker's Hut viewpoint. I had seen photos from a few days earlier sand knew that the trees were flocked with icy snow. The forecast was for morning fog that would burn off by midday. Instead we had nothing but blue sky all day. The Hut site can be very windy. It was blowing but not very hard when we arrived. A quick round of photos and we headed into the Hut for lunch. It was just under 32 degrees but much warmer without any wind. After lunch it was time for more photos. The trees, towers, and fence were coated with bright white snow. Tiger Mountain is not known as a beautiful place but when it snow heavily it comes close.

Mt. Rainier was clear as well as the Olympic Mountains. After last year's non winter it was nice to see the Olympics cloaked in white. A single runner came up and turned right around. Another hiker came up the road. It turned out to by Rodman or Ragman and Rodman. In an unusual occurrence, this was the second time I med Rod atop Tiger 1 on New Year's Eve. With 2800' of elevation gain done, most of the rest of the trip was downhill. Next we dropped down the road and headed up the road to Tiger 2. On Christmas Day there was only one set of footprints in two feet of snow heading down from Tiger 2. Now there was a well packed track. We climbed up to the top of Tiger 2. Now it was decision time. I started the day with 3600' less elevation gain than last year. We could just head down and I'd end the year with 400' less. Or... we could drop down then climb up Tiger 3 and return to Tiger 2. Oh, what the heck... Down we went. We saw about as many folks atop Tiger 3 as we did on the rest of the hike. A quick stop and we were on the move.

The easy thing would be to take the TMT around Tiger 2. Nah, just another 250' and we were on top of Tiger 2 again. Now it was nearly all downhill. With microspikes it was easy hiking downhill even in icy spots. At the top of the K-3 Trail we took the new TMT section. There were a number of small trees and big branches down across the trail. We managed to move 8 or 9 of them out of the way. I had seen a photo of a tree that fell onto the new bridge. In fact. It fell across the bridge breaking handrails on both sides. We moved a few branches out of the way. It is a big step but not too hard to climb over the tree. It did not seem to break the superstructure of the bridge itself. By about 1400' the snow was thin and icy and then it was gone. Off went the microspikes.

A few weeks earlier we went up the TMT on an after work hike. Near and above the Lingering Trail junction there were a number of trees down. It was very slow crawling under them. I wanted to go down this way to check out the situation. We were pleased to see that all the trees have been cut out. Some were quite large. Thank you to the sawyers. We took the Lingering Trail the rest of the way down. At the bottom we walked through the tent city site near the gate. They returned just this past week.

This turned out to be a great hike. It was cold all day but not as cold as some year end hikes. Other than the top of Tiger 3 we did not see many other hikers. There were tracks on our entire route so we did not have to break any trail. Some spots, especially where the snow began and ended, it was icy. Microspikes were very helpful there. Most of the rest of the route could be done with no traction devices but I was glad to have them. All the snow with sunshine and blue sky made Tiger Mountain look as pretty as it can be. I expect in another year I'll be back hiking on Tiger Mountain.

Icy Start
First Ornament
Hair Ice
Ornament & Bridge
Frosty Leaves
Snowy Arch
Another Ornament
John & Arch II
Snowy Skinny Trees
Snowy Tree
Snowy Stump
Looking Up
Short Descent
East Tiger Mountain
Tiger 1 Summit
Hiker's Hut
Flocked Trees
Heavily Flocked
John Near Bench
Hut & Summit
Wind Direction?
Antenna Close Up
Mt. Rainier
Olympic Mountains
Looking West
Snowy Tree
Poo Top Ridge
Road Walk
John On Tiger 3
Tiger 2 Tower
Log On Bridge
Another Bridge View
Freshly Cleared
John At Work
Lots Of Sword Ferns
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2015