The Year In Review

2016 was another very good hiking year. I spent fewer days with a little less mileage and elevation gain than the past few years. Even so, I did get out for 91 trips covering 818 miles with 212,800' of elevation gain. It was my seventh consecutive year with over 800 miles and my twelfth consecutive year with over 700 miles. It was also my fourteenth consecutive year with over 200,000' of elevation gain. A variety of factors kept me to a many years low of only one backpacking trip.  I had another year of mid week headlamp hikes in the winter, spring and fall. This was our seventh year of headlamp hikes.

I aim for at least 10 new trails each year. I had a great year for new trails with 16. After 35 years it is hard to find new day trips and all of them were. One of my best years for new trails in a long time. Hopefully, I can get in more backpacking this year and get to places farther from home.

The  website continues to grow and now has 708 trip reports and 22,255 photos. I added 42 new reports with photos. That was a little less than the previous few years. The site is now 14 3/4 years old. On March 26th, 2017 it will be 15 years old. A lot of hiking websites have come and gone in that time. It is hard to believe so much time has gone by since I started the site.

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 132 consecutive months. Eleven years and counting. The streak is now at 136 months and counting.

After 35 years on the trail I reached another milestone. I went over 20,000 miles. That is averaging just a little less than 600 mile per year. I took 22 years to reach 10,000 miles. My pace has picked up since then.

One change has been the growth of Hiking Northwest's Facebook page. It now has over 1400 likes. More and more folks see instant photos uploaded while I'm on a hike. They also see when I post a new trip report.

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 2016.

The year started off with a bang. On January 2nd I joined Gwen, Kim, and Kevin for a snowshoe trip up Mt. McCausland. It was one very cold day. Only 2 degrees at the start. Sunny but with a howling cold wind on the summit. It was one of only a couple snowshoe trips all winter. Another minimal snow winter. McCausland was one of the best trips of the year. I did two headlamp hikes this month. Gwen and I headed north to Chuckanut Mountain for a first visit to Cedar and Pine Lakes plus trail along Padilla Bay. The lakes were frozen. The last interesting trip was a ski trip with Gary. One of only two cross country ski trips I did all winter. We went part way up Amabilis Mountain then skied the groomed course at the bottom. For the month I hiked 61 miles with 13,700' of gain. About average for January but well below last year.

Six trips this month but only two that rated a trip report. Four trips were on Tiger and Cougar Mountains. Only one was a headlamp hike. The first trip was up Mt. Teneriffe via the road/trail both ways. I brought snowshoes and carried them all 14 miles. There was a lot of snow up high but it was well enough consolidated. This was my first visit since the road was converted to trail. They did a pretty good job. The 4400' of gain was the third most for a day hike this year. The other report was for another first time hike. This one was close to home on Squak Mountain. Margaret's Way Trail is a new trail. It starts out hiking through an old private campgrounds. The day was cloudy and I did not get any views from Debbie's Viewpoint. It is the third trailhead I use on Squak Mountain. For the month I hiked only 56 miles, my lowest of the year, with 15,000' of gain.

Five more Tiger and Cougar trips this month. Three other had trip reports. First was my nearly annual trip to Blanchard Hill near Bellingham. I did a 10 mile loop. Two lakes, a butte, and Oyster Dome. I saw very early skunk cabbage in bloom. I hiked the Old Mt. Si Trail for the first time in several years. Icy enough for microspikes near the top. I have been logging miles and elevation gain since 1982 and this trip took me over 20,000 miles hiked. A bit of a milestone. The last report was for Chuckanut Mountain. Gary came along. This was a repeat of a trip I did for the first time a year earlier. The Rock Trail is worth the trip by itself. Our loop was 11 miles long. I hiked 67 miles for the month with 20,000' of gain. Pretty good for March.

My trip improved in April. Five of the eight trip had trip reports. Gwen and I headed east to Hex Mountain. There was snow higher up but we did not take or need snowshoes. For the second time in a row I took a wrong road and we ended up with a most interesting cross country leg going up. Quite a crowd on the summit.  Pretty good views too. Gary and I headed to Mt. Rainier for a combo ski/snowshoe trip to Mazama Ridge. The snow was so icy that we did more snowshoeing than skiing. We did have total solitude to ski Paradise Valley. Another beautiful sunny day. Janet and I did a non hiking road trip to the Ellensburg area for a wildflower exploration. We found lots of wildflowers at Wild Horse Wind Farm/Reecer Creek. Another first time hike was to the Anacortes Community Forest with Gwen, Kim, and Greg. Miles of trails and several small summits. I have a lot to explore there in the future. I also ended up with a tick in the middle of my back that required a doctor to remove. The last report was one of the most interesting trips. I heard about a big pinnacle rock in the new Teanaway Community Forest. I found it with some online research and using Google Earth. Though much of the way is on a gated road I walked the whole 14 miles. Total solitude and I found Exclamation Point Rock. Monthly totals were 72 miles with 17,300' gained.

Six out of eight trips have trip reports. Only one trip closer than North Bend. Kim and Jon joined me for another trip to the Lime Kiln Trail. It had been several years since I visited Goat Lake. Kim and I made the trip. Crowded as usual but also beautiful. Kim and I made a second visit to Greider Lakes, 27 years after the first. The road has been shortened adding several more miles. Steep old trail but pretty at the lakes. A beautiful Teanaway day for Iron Bear and Jester Peaks. Good wildflower display. It rained driving in and out. I love the Teanaway in the spring. The next trip was another first visit. This time to Downey Creek off the Suiattle River Road. Kim and Jon came along. Hard to believe it took me 35 years to explore this trail. Lastly was a third visit to McDonald Mountain. A long 13 miles with 2600' of gain to the real summit. For the month I hiked 68 miles with 15,800' gained.

Five more trip reports in June. First was a hot trip up Noble Knob with Gary & John. Very little snow and few people. I joined Kim for another first time hike. I have hiked several times downstream along the MF Snoqualmie River to the Pratt River. I had never hiked upriver. A pleasant hike and neat lunch spot along the river bank. Finally time for a real mountain. I hike up 7223' Navaho Peak. Looping down along the ridge I came upon among the best displays of bitterroot in bloom I have seen. Both white and pink. Kim joined me for my annual trip to Mason & Rainbow. We went in and out via Mason Lake for a change. We spent hours lounging at all the lakes. The last trips was unusual as neither Gary, nor John, nor I had been to Cow Heaven. A long day as we made it near the top of Helen Butte. The 5200' was my highest gain of the year. The first half of the year ended with a 71 mile 21,700' gain month.

Kim and I started off the month with a hike to the old Polallie Ridge Lookout site. A warm buggy day. Great views from the top though trees ares starting to close a bit of the view. Good wildflowers too. Few people. Kim and I also made a return trip to Boulder River. Lots of water for July and plenty of forest floor things to photograph. I enjoyed a cool summer day at Pratt & Tuscohatchie Lakes. I continued to the first part of the old trail to Kaleetan Lake. A long 14 mile day. Next, Kim and I headed back to Ashland Lakes. This time we added a bit of the old trail to Bald Mountain. It was in better shape than expected. Thunder and lightening during the hike. My longest day trip of the year was completely on new trails to me. From Smithbrook Road I hiked to Lake Janus and on to Grizzly Peak. Some of it right on the Cascade Crest. A long but enjoyable 16 miles. I tied for my highest mileage month at 83 miles. That is pretty low for a highest month. I also gained 20,300'.

Gary and I did an after work hike to Snow Lake. Not very crowded for once. Down before dark. Mt. Dickerman is a good steep workout hike. Great views from the summit. Afterward, I hiked up to the Big Four Snow Caves. A cool spot on a warm summer day. Gary and I next did one of the most interesting trips of the year. A little cross country travel to tie together several trails and make a big loop. Throw in multiple lakes and passes and you have the Crystal Lakes - Deadwood Lakes - PCT Loop. A really long and fun day. Kim joined me for a trip to the Teanaway. She did the Bean Peak Loop and I added a side trip to Iron Peak. Two summits, terrific solitude, and 4400' of elevation gain. A fun day. I often get in over 100 miles in August. This year it was a disappointing 66 miles. I did manage a third consecutive 20,000' month with 20,300' gained.

The month began with my only backpacking trip of the year. I joined Kim and Janet for a tip to Fortune Ponds and then over the crest to Pear and Top Lakes. The second day was all new trails for me. Nice to camp near the Cascade Crest. Gary joined me for a return to Exclamation Point Rock. This time in bikes. That extra speed allowed us to hike farther along the trail. On a short road section beyond the rock we saw two guys in a Jeep. They were the only folks we saw all day. Kim and I went back to Rainbow Lake and dropped down to Blazer Lake too. Great berries to feast on. Kim's first visit to Blazer. The last trip report of the month was a good one. Gary, John, and I took another sunny midweek day to go to Ingalls Lake in larch season. None of the crowds of the weekends. The larch were just short of peak but sill very good. We went a ways beyond the lake too. Many hundreds of photos were taken. I tied the yearly high with 83 miles with 19,300' of gain.

The last three months of the year the weather turned awful and too many events cut into my hiking time. The result was very few trip reports because most of my hikes were close to home. Rattlesnake, Tiger, Squak, Cougar, repeat. I still got out but often for half days or for headlamp hikes. I did six trip reports in May. I did five in the last quarter of the year. I did do one hike I had thought about for years. On a cold, rainy,l and windy day I hiked through the Snoqualmie Tunnel Two laps for 10 miles. It was warmer and a lot drier than outside. I made one last trip to the Teanaway for a hike up Miller Peak. The first time in a long time via the Miller Peak Trail. Mostly sunny with a little snow up high and larch trees turned golden. I was the token guy in our group of four.The 59 miles hiked with 13,200' of gain represented the second lowest mileage and lowest elevation gain of the year.

Only two trips worth reports this month. I went east to near Cle Elum for a long railroad grade hike on the Iron Horse SP/John Wayne Trail. It was 15 miles with 100' of total elevation gain. Nice walk along the Yakima River with near total solitude. Three of my seven hikes were evening headlamp hikes. I also headed to Annette Lake. This trip had the first snow of the season. It rained nearly all the way to the trailhead and all the way home. I was in a pocket of dry weather. For possibly the first time ever, I was the first person on the trail and up to the lake. I was also at the lake in July. This trip was about 50 degrees cooler. Similar numbers to October. 63 miles with 13,200' of gain. The gain was tied for the lowest month of the year with October.

I was still in good shape to reach 800 miles and 200,000' of gain but I wanted to end the year on a better note. I managed to get out 9 times. Again, some were only half day trips and three headlamp hikes.  On Christmas Day I headed up Mt. Si via the main trail. I so seldom summit Si via that route. There was snow beyond the first mile. Amazingly few people were hiking. To crowds on Si is almost impossible. Sunshine overhead but lower clouds all around. It made for some good photos. For the 33rd time in 34 years, I finished the year with a hike on Tiger Mountain. John joined me for a trip over Tiger 1 and Tiger 2. Lots of snow up high. Not a lot of other hikers on our route. More snow than in several years made the close in summits look very much like winter. For the month I hiked 69 miles with a yearly best of 22,500' of elevation gain.

 My Top 10 Trips Of 2014
01. Fortune Ponds & Beyond
02. Ingalls Lake
03. Mt. McCausland
04. Crystal Peak Loop

05. Lake Janus - Grizzly Peak
06. Exclamation Point Rock
07. Cow Heaven
08. Mazama Ridge
09. Navaho Peak
10. Iron - Bean Peaks Loop

All Trips - 2016