The Year In Review

2015 was another very good hiking year. I was on the trail for 97 trips covering 868 miles with 237,000' of elevation gain. It was my sixth consecutive year with over 800 miles and my eleventh consecutive year with over 700 miles. It was also my thirteenth consecutive year with over 200,000' of elevation gain. After 34 1/2 years of consistent hiking I have not yet burned out. I had another year of mid week headlamp hikes in the winter, spring and fall.  As usual, I had a number of solo hikes and quite a few with a variety of other hikers.

I aim for at least 10 new trails each year. I just made it with 11. That is a little misleading though as our five day backpacking trip in the Olympic Mountains was all on a variety of new trails. Several were new trails off of ones previously hiked. Most were completely new areas. All added up, I have hiked well over 150 new trails since this website began. That started after more than 20 years of continuous hiking. It gets harder to find new trails within day hiking distance but I seem to have not run out yet.

My website has grown to over 660 trip reports and nearly 20,500 photos. I added another 46 new reports with photos. That was a little less than the previous few years. The site is now 13 3/4 years old. It's hard to believe I have been putting up trip reports weekly for nearly 14 years.

I do not set a specific goal for miles, elevation, summits, or nights out backpacking each year. I just get out as often as possible. The one exception is trying to reach 10,000' of elevation gain each month. This is just an ongoing goal. If I do that it means I'm getting out often and staying in good shape. In August I reached 120 consecutive months. Ten years without a miss. The streak is now at 124 months and counting.

Well enough of the old stuff. It's time to get down to a month by month review. This adds a little more info for trip planning compared to just reading my hiking log. Now it's time to get started with January of 2015.

This was the winter that wasn't. We had so little snow that I managed only two combo snowshoe/cross country ski trips. High summits were reached on dirt trails. However, the year did begin with a real snow hike. Gwen joined me on the first day of the new year for a hike up Mt. Pilchuck. The parking lot was completely snow covered. The entire trail was on snow. A nice solid trench made it easy to hike without snowshoes. A nice sunny winter day. One of few. After three close in hikes I joined Gwen again for one half of my winter snowshoe/ski trips. Honest to goodness fresh snow made for a good trip up Smithbrook Road. Things changed rapidly after that trip. I did a long trip up Mt. Teneriffe. I took the road turned to trail route both ways. Lots of solitude. It was a short sleeves day in January. 60 degrees and almost no snow. A precursor of what was coming. On the last day of the month Gwen and I hiked up Mt. Defiance. There should have been snow in the parking lot. There was little at over 5000'. Not even the 12th Man Flag on the summit could will the Seahawks to the Super Bowl championship a week later. I got off to a great start in January with 76 miles and 22,300' of elevation gain.

The month began with a second trip up Clear Creek to Squire Creek Pass. Only a few patches of snow where there should have been five feet or more. Total solitude. Next Gwen suggested a trip that should never be possible in February. Mt. Townsend is 6280'. The trailhead is reached after miles of high elevation road driving. Not a problem this year. We took a route I had not done and had only a little snow on the summit. Amazing... As long as we were having spring in February why not a trip on the east side of the Cascades? Gary and I hiked the Icicle Ridge Trail out of Leavenworth. Thick ice in the parking lot then bare trail for miles. We did climb high enough to find some snow. Next was a trip to Beckler Peak. 5000' on top? Of course we did not need snowshoes. We met a real crowd on this trip. We ended the month with a trip that should have been snowed in until June. It turned out to be a fun hike on West Cady Ridge. We had bare trail coming up then well compacted snow on the ridge top. A great sunny winter day. For February I totaled just 52 miles but 18,800' gained.

The month began with my second and last snowshoe/ski trip. Gary and I headed to Mazama Ridge on Mt. Rainier. Some trails were rock hard ice and we did find some good snow on the ridge top. Yet another sunny winter day. Next I took care of some unfinished business. In 2009 I did a long logging road hike looking for an old lookout sight on Haystack Ridge high above Sultan. I took a wrong turn and ended up falling short on a 17 mile day. This time I made all the right turns and reached the lookout site on an 18 mile day. Next came a rare snowy hike. Gwen and I headed to the Teanaway Valley for a trip up Mary Peak. Deep snow turned us around below the summit. We stayed low on a hike to Lost Lake up the Greenwater River. My first visit in 20 years. I finished the month with a close in hike on Cougar Mountain. I saw a lot of spring flowers which were out very early in the year. March had the lowest elevation gain of the year. I totaled 61 miles with 13,800' gained.

Kim joined me for a trip to Ashland Lakes. A little fresh snow and wildflowers. I headed east for a long walk on the Iron Horse grade. A good but not great wildflower display. I headed east again to Umtanum Ridge for my first visit in nine years. A very good wildflower display including hedgehog cacti in bloom. April totaled 74 miles with 15,500'.

Another Teanaway trip came next. Elbow Peak provides a great mountain viewpoint. It should have been a snowy trip. It was mostly on dirt. One constant each year is at least one visit to Rainbow Lake. Usually on a hot day. This time I brushed the abandoned trail down to Blazer Lake. I have hiked numerous times on Blanchard Hill south of Bellingham. This time I headed a little farther north to Chuckanut Mountain. I made a 12 mile loop trip. I will be back. A weekend trip to Darrington provided two days worth of trails. First was Peek-a-boo Lake. I tried it in 1989 and lost the trail in snow. This time I made it to the lake. No snow at all. The next day I made a first visit to the Harold Engles Trail and NF Sauk. I had one more trip in May. A return to the Tired Creek - Waptus Pass Loop. My last visit was in 2004. May turned out to be the second biggest month of the year. I hiked 90 miles with 21,200'.

The first trip was something new. Gwen and Kim joined me for a trip up an old abandoned trail to West Beckler Peak. Remnants of the old lookout and a view of crowds on East Beckler Peak. As expected, we saw nobody on the trail. Next came another favorite trip. The Iron - Bean Peaks Loop. I had nearly total solitude all around the loop. Blue sky, views, and good wildflowers. One of the more spectacular trips was up to Hidden Lake Lookout. Only my second visit. Great views on a very hot day. Plenty of wildflowers in bloom too. June had the fewest miles hiked. The totals were only 51 miles with 16,200'.

The second half of the year began with an overnight backpacking trip with Gwen to Scorpion Mountain & Joan Lake. My second visit to Scorpion and first to the lake. Another blazing hot trip. Gary and John joined me for a 5 day loop backpacking trip to the Olympic Mountains. Too hot then rainy and a terrific trip overall. I had previously hiked only one short trail section. It was so hot on my next hike that I reached Lake 22, hiked around it, and made it back down by 10:55 am. I joined Kim for an overnight trip to Lake Dorothy. We also visited Bear & Deer Lakes. July had the most miles hiked and elevation gained. I totaled 104 miles with 25,700'.

It was over 90 degrees when I visited Heather Lake. I spent most of the day in the shade. There is a theme here somewhere. I joined Gwen for my second visit to Mt. Pugh. All the fires meant we had very poor and smoky views from the summit. It is a fun scramble. It had been 12 years since my first visit. I spent a good part of August and early September chronicling the construction of a new 200' long bridge on Tiger Mountain. I made a dozen visits and put together a report with over 100 annotated photos. It was quite a job. A trip to Crystal Lakes was cut short and ended with another trip to the bridge site. The thick smoke chased us down from the lakes.  August totaled 80 miles with 24,400'.

I have hiked to the Kendall Katwalk & Ridge Lake many times. This time I decided to go farther down the PCT. It made for a 15 mile day. I met a number of PCT through hikers. This was a year of return hikes after long breaks. My second visit to Shriner Peak was on another very hot day. Great fall leaf colors was the highlight. It had been 13 years since my first visit. More fall leaf colors and a few larch starting to turn color at Iron Bear & Jester Peaks. Kim and Gwen were along on this one. The year ended with my larch trip of the year. The weekend crowds at Ingalls Lake at larch time are overwhelming. I took a day off with Gary to spend a day without the crowds. Mission accomplished. We had a great time. For the month I totaled 80 miles with 23,800'

I started the month with a first time hike up the new Mailbox Peak Trail. It is much longer but easier on the knees coming down. Only my third visit ever. The first was in 1989 before it was "discovered". Late October was time for one last Teanaway hike. I joined Janet & Steve for a hike up Iron Peak via Eldorado Creek. A cold day with some snow fall on the summit ridge. I ended the month with a Mountain Loop Highway trip with three short hikes. Boulder River was first. It rained most of the day. The rivers were near flood level. I hiked 75 miles with 21,600'.

Gwen and I did a close in hike at Taylor Mountain. My third visit. Half of the trails I hiked for the first time. I put up a rare trip report for Tiger Mountain. There was enough snow to make it photogenic. Gwen and I hiked up Mt. Baldy. It was cold, clear, with lots of icicles. The snow was well consolidated making for easy travel. It looked like winter up high.The month ended with a 3 day vacation to Long Beach, WA. Most of the state was in a smoggy inversion. Kim, Jonathan, and I had clear sky and cold. A little hiking and lots of photos. For November the totals were 62 miles with 18,400'.

Kim and I hiked the Wallace Falls - Lake Loop. We checked out the new bridge to future Reiter Trails. I'll be back to scout those soon. Just a little snow and another clear cut along the upper road section. For just the second time I did a hike on Christmas Day. This one was on Tiger Mountain. Enough snow to make Tiger Mountain look beautiful. Just like every year but one in since 1983, I ended the year with a hike on Tiger Mountain. This was a one way trip. Blue sky and lots of snow up high. One of the best Tiger hikes I have done. The year ended with 63 miles and 15,300'.

 My Top 10 Trips Of 2015
01. Olympic Mountain Loop
02. Ingalls Lake
03. Hidden Lake Lookout
04. Tiger Bridge Project

05. West Beckler Peak
06. Umtanum Ridge
07. Mazama Ridge
08.Mt. Pugh
09. Shriner Peak
10. Scorpion Mountain

All Trips - 2015