Cross Tiger Traverse

News Eve means means a hike on Tiger Mountain to round out the year. This would be the 31st time in the last 32 years. This year Gary and John joined me for a one way trip from south to north. We did a similar trip to end 2012. That trip included bushwhacking up from Fifteen Mile Canyon where the trail was washed away. It also had considerable snow up high. This time we avoided Fifteen Mile and followed the West Side Road to the start of the Middle Tiger Trail. We were on the trail at about 7:50 am. A short way up the trail we saw the first snow of the day. The trail is the shortest and most direct route up Middle Tiger. The snow cover became a little thicker but was still minor in the forest. We crossed the TMT and continued to the top of Middle Tiger. The tepee seen last New Year's Eve was still standing. We had a short break and continued on.

The route descends from the summit to an old logging road. From the road we could see the towers on Tiger 1 and East Tiger. Out in the open there was more snow but not enough to slow us down much. The flocked trees along the route were very pretty. The road descends then climbs a little to a gate. The East Side Road to Tiger 1 and 2 goes through here. We turned right on the road and began to climb. There were tire tracks on the road which made walking very easy.  The road climbs then begins to descend. We passed the Preston RR Grade Trail. The trail is usually closed on October 15th for the winter. No signs for a closure were seen. The wooden gate on the trail was also missing. That would be the shortest route to the top of East Tiger. We had other plans.

We stayed on the road as it dropped to the junction with the road from Highway 18 at Tiger Summit. The road climbing towards East Tiger also had tire tracks. At the junction with the summit spur we headed over to the Sally's Summit trail. The sign I saw in the late summer talking about new trail work was still there. After Sally's Summit we headed for the top of East Tiger. There were a few bare patches on the road in forest but mostly it was snow covered to the top.

As with this extremely high pressure we have had recently, there was nearly no wind all day. We started at about 24 degrees and it stayed at or below freezing most all day. The lack of wind really helped make the temperature bearable. The picnic tables on top were completely snow covered. We had a good view of Mt. Rainier. White snow all around us and the lowlands below were all bare. We arrived at the summit just before 11:00 am. We stayed for nearly half an hour. We had about half the distance and more than half the elevation gain finished. After lunch we headed down. The upper end of the East Tiger Trail also had no closed sign. We left the road on the trail and soon left it on or about the old East Tiger Trail. Using GPS units we descended the slope and reached the Preston RR Grade right at the junction with the old East Tiger Trail. The snow was much less deep here than on our 2012 trip.

We had no problem following the trail as it dropped to a creek crossing near a newer logging cut. As we climbed up we had views out and picked out Mt. Si at one point. The route continued to the Paw Print Connector Trail. A short detour and we reached the oldest Tiger Christmas Tree. More ornaments this year than I have ever seen. We tried to reach it on December 23rd on a headlamp hike but the pouring rain caused us to turn around half a mile before the tree. One of the wettest hikes I have ever been on. This day it as cold but very dry. Rather than head down to Preston we chose to take the Bootleg Trail up to Tiger 1.

The snow was not very deep in the forest. The trail was easy to follow. This was our last big climb of the day. Near the upper ridge we left trail and climbed up to the upper road. Recent logging has opened up some impressive views here. Views from the Olympics to the Cascades. We followed the road up to the main gated summit tower complex. This is almost at the highest point of West Tiger 1. I had heard about the mess of downed trees across the trail below the summit ridge. I hoped that they had been cut out. We chose to drop to the trail and follow it back to the Bootleg - Preston Trail junction. In the older clear cut we found the downed trees. Several dozen of them. Most very large. It was not much fun to scramble over and under the trees. At one point we chose to climb up the hill to get around them. The upper road was much easier. Eventually we made it across. The newer clear cut did not have any trees come down in the recent storm.

Now we headed down the Preston Trail. Steep at first and very direct. We passed the West Tiger RR grade.  down past the lower Bootleg Trail junction. On down to the short cut trail. This cuts off a little distance. Near the bottom John noticed yet another Christmas tree. That is the fourth one I know about on Tiger Mountain and the third one I've seen this year. At long last we reached the power line road. It started out pretty nice but soon turned into the rocky road I don't like to hike. Half a mile of that and we turned off on the short spur to the road and my car.

We reached the end of our trip at 3:35 pm with more than an hour of daylight left. On the 2012 trip we came out after 5:00 pm in the dark. Not hiking the Fifteen Mile section and having less snow saved us about an hour. This was a fun hike from the south end of Tiger Mountain to the north end. The snow brightened up the forest but was not deep enough to slow us down much. Over 12+ miles we saw exactly zero other people. True solitude on Tiger Mountain. We reached three summits on the day. Our total elevation gain was just short of 4000'. It was a day of fun trails, good weather, and good company. Another very successful Tiger Mountain hike to end a very good year of hiking.

New Bridge
Middle Tiger Trail
Snow Begins
Middle Tiger Tepee
Snowy Road
West Tiger 1
Cascade Mountains
Deeper Snow
Heading For East Peak
First Viewpoint
Nearing East Summit
Lunch On East Tiger
Hair Ice
Clear Cut
Mt. Si
Gnome House
Christmas Ornaments
Christmas Tree
Big Blowdown
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2014