Mountain & Coal Creek
Gary was free for a hike the day after Christmas. We had not hiked
together since he injured his hamstring in August. I was looking
forward to the trip. The year is rapidly coming to the end and I was
now so close to my second 1000 mile hiking year. With 15 miles to go I
needed to get out at least once before my annual New Year's Eve hike on
Tiger Mountain. The past week has had some terrible weather. Some snow
followed by very low temperatures and then an evening of frozen rain.
Seattle almost never sees frozen rain. I woke up on Thursday to ice
covering everything. Happy Birthday me! I never left my house. My steps
were solid ice. My car had ice covering all of it. The doors were
connected by ice. They would not be opening. No problem, I would not
have left my driveway under any circumstances. By Christmas, on
Saturday, it was raining and 50 degrees. Sunday morning, I woke up to
driving rain and very high winds. Not hiking weather. I called Gary at
7:15 am and we checked the weather sites. It looked like there should
be a break in the rain from about 10:00 am to 1:00 pm. I had to get in
a hike. We planned to meet at Red Town for a quick hike on Cougar
Mountain. We planned to hike west down Coal Creek since the rain was
coming out of the west and we "should" have it end earlier for us this
way. It actually worked.
We met at Red Town at 10:00 am. My drive was windy but dry until Coal
Creek. The rain was brief and we met to find no rain and no wind. Both
were supposed to return for the afternoon so we quickly got started. I
had not done the Coal Creek Trail in probably a decade until this fall.
This would be my third time on it in the past couple months. There are
two waterfalls and with all the recent rain I hoped they would be
raging. We crossed the road and descended into the canyon of Coal
Creek. The first waterfall comes up pretty quick. Gary has hiked most
of Cougar Mountain but had not been on this trail. When I was here a
few weeks earlier there was a good flow over the waterfall. This day
there was twice as much. We stopped for photos. The second waterfall
was also raging. The top is very narrow but the water lands on a rock
slab and cascades down to Coal Creek.
As we headed on, it began to rain. It was quickly hard enough to pull
out our umbrellas. Within a few minutes it eased up and that was the
end of the rain for this trip. We took the Primrose Trail in both
directions. It is closer to the creek and with the high water the
little creek was not so little. We saw a few groups but the trail was
not very busy. We reached the Coal Creek Trailhead at 11:21 am. We had
hiked 2.86 miles. I showed Gary the route under Coal Creek Way.
Part way under the road the walkway was underwater. I tried
to continue but the several inch deep water quickly became much deeper.
Time to turn around. We hiked back up the trail. We reached Red Town at
12:40 pm. We had our lunch at the trailhead. It was 1:58 when we headed
up the Military Road.
We had almost 6 miles done but we wanted to get more and some elevation
gain. Though we were near the time the rain was supposed to start, the
sky looked fairly light white. Not like dark rain clouds. We headed up
the trail. It is one mile to the Sky Country Trailhead. There was no
rain yet and we continued to the Cave Hole Road. Now we had several
choices. A right turn would take us to Coal Creek Falls the shortest
way. A left turn provided more options. We could go up to Anti-Aircraft
Peak. That would make for almost a 12 mile day. It would be pushing our
dry no wind luck too. We chose to go left up to Fred's Railroad. We
turned right and continued to the Quarry Trail. Descending the Quarry
Trail brought us to the trail that descends to Coal Creek Falls.
I expected to see at least several groups at the falls. I was not
disappointed. There were three or four groups there and some leaving
and more arriving. The falls were flowing very strong. This was our
third waterfall of the day and the most impressive one. We stopped for
photos and videos of the falls. Before long, it was time to head down.
The trail back to the Cave Hole Road has a lot more uphill than
downhill. That added to a below average elevation gain hike. At the
Cave Hole Road we turned left for the short hike back to the trailhead.
We arrived at 2:54 pm. Our start was much later than usual but it did
allow us to miss the heavy rain in the morning and the rain that
started after our return. The wind was also calm on our hike but howled
for most of the day. We were very fortunate.
For the day we hiked 10.15 miles with 1400' of elevation gain. We both
ran a gps track on this trip. Multiple gps units always provide
different distances over 10 miles. This day was weird. Each time we
checked our tracks they were at exactly the same distance. The
differences were never more than 2/100 of a mile. At the end we showed
exactly the same distance. I doubt I will ever see that happen again.
The upside of all the rain we have been having is that the creek and
the waterfalls were really howling. It was the best time to see Coal
Creek. All three waterfalls looked much better than they usually do.
The 10 miles we covered brought me up to 995 miles on the year. Barring
an injury or another freak freezing rainstorm, I will have my second
1000 mile hiking season in the 40 years I have been recording my miles
and elevation gain. This trip brought me over 240,000' of elevation
gain. This is only the fifth time I have reached that level. It means
my monthly average was over 20,000' per month. This has turned out to
be one of the best hiking years I have had by the numbers. Lastly, this
is my 59th trip report of the year. That breaks by previous high of 58
trip reports in one year.
Click on thumbnails to get
Red Town Trailhead
Old Railroad Grade
At Creek Level
Side View Of Falls
Very Mossy Arbor
Bridge Over Coal Creek
Near The West End
Coal Creek Trailhead
Bridge Over Side Creek
Gary On Quarry Trail
Near Coal Creek Falls
Coal Creek Falls
Coal Creek Falls Again
CC Falls & Me
On Cave Hole Road