Mt. Si via New Trail

I had the morning free on Christmas Day. Time for a hike in the snow. I had not been up the main trail up Mt. Si  in over three years. If I was to escape the crowds then a snowy trail on Christmas Day seemed like a good choice. Lots of ice to scrape in Seattle then I was off. I arrived at the trailhead at 8:50 am. There were only about 10 cars in the lot. I was packed up and on the trail at 9:00 am. It was very cloudy in Seattle and it stayed that way until past Highway 18. It was mostly sunny in North Bend. There was no snow at the bottom. It was a chilly but not too cold 32 degrees. Three quarters of a mile up I met a couple coming down already. I saw a total of only eight people total on the way up. As much solitude as I can recall on Mt. Si.

Right around the one mile marker there was a little icy snow on the trail. Still plenty of dirt showing and I was fine with just boots. I passed four folks there. I should have stopped to put on microspikes before Snag Flats but I kept going. Traction was not terrible but it was a bit slick. Once the spikes went on traction was excellent all the way up and down. Once the icy thin snow turned to packed but not icy snow the trail was as good as when it is bare and dry. No more steps to go up. No rocks or roots. The grade was smooth with snow. Very nice conditions with the spikes.

Not having done this trail in some time, I forgot how that two mile to three mile section goes on and one. I kept waiting for the switchback where the old trail comes close by and it never seemed to come. One guy ran by me at high speed. He probably came down in well under an hour. The people were few and far between. I finally reached that switchback and the long traverse to the right. I recall ice skating this section in the pre poles and traction device days. I like having them. Right at the next switchback one hiker came down as I nearly caught up with a man and woman. The woman asked her partner if the other hiker was "Lexi". I piped up and asked if this "Lexi" lived on Phinney Ridge. She did not know but she did mention his last name. Yep, it was the Lexi that I knew. It is a small world.

Next came the shorter switchbacks leading up to the boulder field where many folks stop for the day. I've done this when the rock steps are partly bare and partly icy. No problem this day. The snow had created a smooth ramp right on up. No steps at all. Very nice. I reached the boulders and views at 11:02 am. 2:03 is not one of my better times up. At the boulders I met one woman enjoying the sunshine. Finally out of the trees I could see that clouds had moved in while I hiked up. Overhead it was all blue and we were in sunshine. All around there were lower clouds that blocked a lot of the views. Still not a bad trade off. The rocks and trees were all covered by the recent snowfall. Very beautiful. We talked for a short while then I headed on. Up the boulders to the top and then I had a misty view of the Haystack summit of Mt. Si. A short drop down, back into trees, and then out into Haystack Basin.

When hiking up Mt. Si I always go on the last bit to the junction alongside the Haystack. A trail goes around the back for climbers to reach the very top. A trail goes off right and proceeds to the Mt. Teneriffe Road/Trail. Way back when, there was an end of trail sign marking 4.1 miles from the trailhead. There was one snowshoe track heading into the freshly snow covered basin. I followed it. It turned right and away from where I wanted to go. Less snow and easier going back in trees. Enough of that. I turned around. The main track went over to the viewpoint above North Bend. Nobody was there. The bench was in shade. It looked like this time of year the sun is so low it never gets any sunshine. The wind was very light. With just a jacket added I was fine at only 25 degrees.

I had a leisurely lunch. Clouds blew by as I watched. One minute I could see Rattlesnake and Tiger Mountains. The next it was all white. The cloud show was pretty spectacular. After more than half an hour I headed down. I was back at the boulders by 12:45 pm. It was a bit clearer than when I first arrived. Mt. Rainier was looming in the distance. McClellan Butte and peaks up the SF Snoqualmie River Valley were in the clear. There was one guy enjoying his lunch. After a round of photos I headed down. After the short switchbacks I met several groups heading up. One group of three were likely between their mid 70s and early 80s. That inspires me to hopefully still be doing this 25  years from now. They were having a great time.

I saw more folks heading down than I had seen in the morning. It was still not even remotely crowded. Eight seen while coming up and maybe twenty or so while descending. Amazing solitude on Si for any weekend. The smooth track with poles and microspikes made for a quick hike out. I had just one stop for water and microspikes removal. I left the boulders at 12:53 pm and reached the trailhead at 1:18. I sliced 37 minutes off my ascent time. The lot was now fuller . The first row was 75% full and the second row was 35% full. Most of the lot was eerily empty. Light traffic allowed for a quick return to Seattle. I was home plenty early before heading out for Christmas dinner with friends.

While the Mt. Si Trail is never empty, Christmas Day must rank among the loneliest times on that trail. I enjoyed the solitude and all the "Merry Christmas" greetings. All the fresh snow with sunshine and blue sky made it a very pretty day for the hike. The lack of wind on top allowed my to spend a long time up there in well below freezing temperatures. All in all, it was a great day to be on the trail.

No Snow Down Low
First Snow
More Snow
Solid Snow Cover
Striped Trees
Deeper Snow
Snow Covered Boulders
Views? What Views?
Up To The Boulders
Snow Covered Boulders
Misty Haystack
Bright White Branches
Heading Higher
Plastered Trees
Nearing Misty Haystack
Suddenly Clear Haystack
Bright White Trench
Looking Southwest
Cloudy To The West
Lots Of Homes
Haystack Basin
Sunshine On Forest
Mt. Rainier
Cloudy Below
Haystack Behind Me
Top Of The Boulders
Neat Clouds
White Against Blue
Heading Down
Shiny Moss
Mt. Si Map
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2016