another stormy windy weekend day. The day before I hiked on Cougar
Mountain and right near the end a large branch came crashing down. It
was not close but it was enough to spook me. For Sunday I chose another
close in hike on the opposite side of Tiger Mt. from the expected wind
direction. It rained while driving from High Point on I-90 to within a
mile of the trailhead at Tiger Summit off Highway 18. Then it stopped.
Amazingly, it stopped for almost the entire time I was hiking.
Nonetheless. I started out with a rain jacket and rain pants on. I
packed up and was on the trail by about 8:10 am. Right at the start of
the Connector Trail five bikes blasted on by me. They were the last
folks I saw until I was one third of the way down. Hours of total
solitude on Tiger. I crossed the main road and headed onto
the NW Timber Trail. Quickly I headed uphill on the Master Link Trail.
It is a mountain bike trail but they can only go uphill on it.
Though the sun was up it was misty and dark in the forest. Not headlamp
dark but dark for 8:30 am. The trail is very gently graded and switches
back and forth to slowly gain elevation. We had lots of rain the past
few days and I was curious whether I would get into snow or not. East
Tiger is the same elevation as Snoqualmie Pass but being so much closer
to salt water it has much less snow. The temperature was in the low
40s. It stayed there all day. I usually expect to have two or three
groups of bikers pass me on this trail. Not this day. I passed the
Inside Passage Trail and soon reached the big bridge. At that point
there was a little snow on the side of the trail.
The part above the bridge always takes longer than I expect. It was no
different this day. The trail became wetter as slushy snow began. I had
on a new pair of heavier boots for winter and I was glad to have a
chance to test their waterproofness. They did great. When I popped out
on the road there was now enough snow to entirely cover the road. I was
tempted to hike right up the road but I wanted a full 8 miles so I
crossed the road and picked up the Quick Link Trail. The quick link is
gently graded but longer than the road walk. Even in the trees there
was now enough snow to be slick. I expected to use my umbrella much of
the day so I did not bring trekking poles. With the gentle grade I was
fine. The Quick Link brought me back to the road once again. There was
a good 3 - 5 inches of snow on the road. No problem to walk in but much
slower than if snow free.
There were a few bike tracks in the snow and a few boot tracks. The
road climbs up to a high point then drops a little to the junction with
the East Tiger Summit Road. Here I turned right and started the last
.70 mile climb to the top. Now I had just one set of footprints in the
snow. One set up and none coming down. I'm 6'4" tall with long legs.
I'm not used to not being able to walk in someone else's tracks. The
other person must have a 40" inseam. Try as I might I had to nearly
jump to stay in his tracks. I quickly gave up and had to make my own
track. That was definitely slower. With fresh snow and only the one set
of tracks it was a very pretty winter scene. Pretty is not a word often
used to describe the road to the summit. Last time I was up there I met
two deer walking down the road. This day I was totally alone.
It is really strange to not see even one person on a bike on East
Tiger. Maybe the snow kept them from the last road to the top. When I
reached the East Tiger Trail crossing I saw that the tracks I had been
following went left on the trail to the summit. I also saw one pair of
tracks coming down the road then down the trail. It looked like I would
be the only person on top. I just had a short steep slog to the top
now. I had heard some loud wind at times high up on my ascent. I was
prepared to find the top very windy. It was not to be. Thankfully, the
wind was holding off. I did get a short bit of sleet/rain on
the final road but it only lasted a short time. It was the only time I
took out the umbrella all day.
I arrived on top at 10:04 am. With the snow I took 1:54 to come up. Not
a great time but not too bad considering the conditions. I usually sit
at the picnic tables and have lunch. This day My stay was about five
minutes tops and I was on my way down. There was no view out through
the clouds but I could see the tops of the towers. Downhill was much
easier. Much softer on my knees than the hard packed gravel road. Down
at the road junction I chose to head back via the road. Before the new
bike trails the road was my only route up and down. Now it allows a
loop trip. A truck had been up to the junction recently. It did not go
farther. It also had left wide tracks of bare dirt with 4-6 inches of
snow elsewhere on the road. Bare dirt sounded fine instead of the slick
slushy snow for my descent.
I dropped to the next junction and turned left and back to the bottom.
There have been mile markers every half mile for decades on the road.
Often several of them are missing. Now they are all there. The half and
one mile markers had been missing for many years. Just above the two
mile marker I met two guys coming up. The first people I saw since near
the start of my trip. I saw another 4 or 5 small groups also hiking up.
That was it for the day. Pretty close to total solitude on some very
busy trails. When I reached the parking lot it was about half full at
I had hoped to get in a full 8 miles if the wind did not force me to
abort before the top. I expected to use my umbrella most of the day as
I had the day before. Instead, I had only a short spit of rain and the
wind never did blow hard. Most of the trip was on bare dirt. The upper
part was on fresh snow that coved the road with a white coat. The lack
of a slew of footprints made it much more scenic. All in all, it was as
much better hike than I planned. Sometimes things just work out.
Click on thumbnails to get
Dark In The Forest
On The Road
One Set Of Prints
Snow On Tables
Muddy Road Spot