Si via New Trail
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
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.
Click on thumbnails to get
No Snow Down Low
Solid Snow Cover
Snow Covered Boulders
Views? What Views?
Up To The Boulders
Snow Covered Boulders
Bright White Branches
Nearing Misty Haystack
Suddenly Clear Haystack
Bright White Trench
Cloudy To The West
Lots Of Homes
Sunshine On Forest
Haystack Behind Me
Top Of The Boulders
White Against Blue
Mt. Si Map