Mt. Si Via Teneriffe Road

My birthday rolled around and as is often the case all my hiking partners were heading out of town or getting ready for Christmas. Even with a lousy weather forecast I was ready for a day in the mountains. The forecast was for some morning rain and light snow in the mountains. The morning update included a mea culpa. A wrong computer model led to a bad forecast. In the four preceding hours at Snoqualmie Pass 12 inches of snow fell and it was still falling. The pass was scheduled to close at 8:00 AM. I needed a close in destination that would not be crowded and would not mean cutting a route through deep snow.

With this in mind I chose an old winter favorite. The Mt. Teneriffe Road is a nice way to get up Mt. Si without the crowds. The heavy morning rain was moving east and I left a little later than planned to miss most of it. I went around North Bend and aimed for the Exit 32. Unfortunately, the line of cars stopped by the temporary closing of the pass was more than 2 1/2 miles long. I finally managed to get onto the shoulder and reach the exit. With this detour it was 9:45 before I reached the parking lot.

Surprisingly, there were already five cars parked. I headed up the gated road just before 10:00 AM. There was just a little light rain and it soon stopped. My timing was excellent. There are 6 or 7 trees down across the road but far fewer than I expected after the big wind storm we had recently. The road starts with a gentle grade for the first mile plus then it gets down to business. The trailhead is at about 800' and I found the first snow near 1800'. Consistent snow was reached near 2500'.

Although there were all those cars there were no footprints in the snow. They must have all gone up the short route to Mt. Teneriffe. When the route reached the level spot I was sinking in 6 inches in the new snow. I kept booting it to the intersection with the route to Mt. Si. I took a food and water break here and headed up the narrower road to the left. I made it a short way and decided to put on my snowshoes. I was sinking in 6 - 9 inches and could have booted it but the snowshoes were a bit easier.

I've done this route a few times in winter but most times there were footprints. It looked familiar but I was not sure of the route. I guessed at one point and it turned out to be correct. I was now in the clouds and visibility was not good. Even when I thought the Haystack should be in sight I saw only clouds. At long last the uphill ended and I went into the trees just above Haystack Basin.

There was so little visibility I chose not to continue down and across to the view of North Bend. Even the top of the Haystack was invisible from the base. I went back into the forest for lunch. A group of three hikers came by heading towards Teneriffe. I passed on some beta and had lunch. It took me 2:40 to reach the top. It is about 5 miles with 3200' of gain.

I expected the descent to be much quicker. In 20 minutes I was back at the intersection with the Teneriffe Road. I was very surprised to see many footprints now. In the hour I took to go over to Si and back it looked like an army came by. I continued down to the flat spot and took off my snowshoes. A little farther down I saw two hikers descending. I quickly caught up and one of them recognized me. It turned out to be Brett whom I had scrambled with on Mountaineer trips.

They were with a Mountaineer group that had summited Teneriffe and were coming down the road. A little later we caught up with Lynn, one of the leaders. I have had a number of great scrambles with Lynn and Richard. It had been a year since I had last seen them. With company the long road walk seemed to go by much faster. Later we caught up with Richard.

My solo hike turned out great. I had total solitude on the way up. The fresh snow was really beautiful. I left late enough to miss the torrential rain in the early morning. The Mountaineer group started out in all that rain. I had a chance to catch up with some great folks I had not seen in a year. It was a fine birthday hike after all.


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Trips - 2006