Mt. Pilchuck

I had work to do in town in the afternoon so I needed a close in short trip. It had been 7 years since I last hiked up Mt. Pilchuck. Sunshine was in the forecast so I wanted to get to a nice viewpoint. I had a reasonably early start as I reached the trailhead at 8:45. It was right around the freezing point as I headed out. There were 5 other cars in the lot and most had ice on their windshields. I had to keep up a good pace to warm up. I was curious if there would be snow on the north face of Pilchuck. Not much sun touches it this time of year.

I found a little fall color as I left the forest and entered the rocks. Soon I was looking out to Three Fingers. A long puddle was frozen over. Soon there was ice on the trail. This was not frozen snow but running water that was frozen solid. It was several inches deep in many places. It also covered the trail edge to edge as I climbed higher. Footing was non existent on the ice so I had to step above or below the trail. My pace slowed way down all through this part.

Amazingly, I did not fall on my rear though there were a few close calls. I passed a group who had spent the night on the summit. They raved about the sunset and sunrise. Soon I met another group who spent the night on top. Another group mentioned that there was just one dayhiker ahead of me. When I reached the ridge things became much better. There were only a few icy spots from there to the summit.

As I hiked around to the south side I could see out in that direction. There was a low layer of fog in the valleys. I had driven through it earlier. I had only hiked the new trail a few times and did not recognize much of the upper route. It's rockier than the old way but much gentler. Finally I reached the lookout. The one other hiker passed me just before I reached the top. I had the lookout to myself. At least for a few minutes. The lookout has been buttoned up for the winter. The wind was now blowing and I had to go around to the north side to avoid it. Three layers went on as I wanted to be able to spent some time up there.

Soon another two hikers arrived. They both headed down before me. There were some clouds but for the most part views were very good. It was too hazy to see out towards Seattle but Everett was in the clear. I could see that Glacier Peak has a nice early season coat of snow. The ice slowed me down to where it took my 1:40 to reach the top. I spent a full hour at the lookout. More hikers arrived and it was getting a little crowded.

I made good time dropping down to the ridge top. Then the ice began. It was even harder going down. My Yak Trax were in my winter day pack and this was likely my last trip with my summer pack. They would have helped though the thick glare ice might have been to much for them. I had one fall on the way down. Better than I expected. The crowds soon began and never let up. This is not a hike to do on a weekend if you want solitude. My early start helped but now it was a zoo.

Be the time I reached the bottom I must have passed 70 or more hikers. I did not think the lot was big enough for all of them. The ice slowed me again but at least it only took 1:10. The road up is in pretty good shape. The first mile plus is pretty flat and has pot holes but above there its not too bad. I was able to get home be early afternoon and had a great day. Every now and then a crowded trail is okay. It helps me appreciate all the trips I do where I see few if any other people. I'm sure I won't wait another seven years for a return visit.

Parking Lot
First Color
Three Fingers
Frozen Puddle
More Color
Icy Rocks
View Northeast
On The South Side
Mt. Pilchuck Lookout
Fog Below
Glacier Peak
Three Fingers Close Up
Color Near Heather Lake
SF Stillaguamish River
Snow Below Summit
View Of Glacier Peak
East Ridge
North Side
Final Color
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2008