John Guilford's Hikes
Mt. Pilchuck on 2000-05-29
People: (including myself): Glenn Engel, Harry Plate, Rick Van Ness
My Alt. Real Alt. Miles
Start: 9:45 3160 3140
Clearing: 10:05 3580
Below sub-peak: 10:55 4360
Ridge: 11:20 4780
Lookout: 12:00 5360 5324 3
Leave: 12:25 5360
Ridge: 12:50 4760
Clearing: 1:05 3640
Out: 1:20 3200
"This doesn't bode well" I thought as I awoke to the sound of rain hitting
my bedroom's skylight. The forecast called for sun breaks down on the
flats in the afternoon, but up in the mountains it called for cloudy with
showers in the morning. However, since I'd planned to attempt Mt. Rainier
in July, I needed these training hikes, so I got ready to go prepared for
wet weather. By the time I met up with the rest of the guys at Granite
Falls, the sky had turned to high clouds with occasional sun breaks.
Despite my early morning misgivings, the weather turned out to be not too
bad. It was cloudy/foggy most of the time with occasional sun breaks (not
quite enough to make me wish that I'd brought my sunglasses, which I
hadn't). Since my pack the previous week didn't seem so bad, this time I
loaded up with four gallons of water. I didn't have the guts to weigh it
before the hike, but I did afterwards. Depending on how full my water
bottles were, etc., the pack weighed between 50-55 pounds, which was a
pretty good load.
On the drive up the Mt. Pilchuck road, we were fortunate enough to see a
deer crossing the road.
The snow had melted back a ways from the previous weekend. The road was
clear all the way to the parking lot, though the drift that blocked the
road the previous weekend was apparent along the side of the road. There
was more dirt on the first part of the trail, but it soon turned completely
to snow. The day was reasonably warm and very humid. I soon had stripped
down to my t-shirt. Not surprisingly, with my pack I was moving slower
than the rest of the guys and they soon out distanced me.
Just past where we had seen the snow boarders building a jump the previous
week, the trail climb a short steep hill and emptied out onto a more major
trail (the same path we'd followed last time).
At the clearing where the trail turns right up the hill side, I stopped and
exchanged my ski poles for my ice axe. Remembering my thoughts from the
previous weekend I made sure to bring it this time. For travel on the
steeper terrain, it was more convenient than the poles. The hill side was
somewhat more melted out than before. It was still snow covered, but there
was more green visible as more of the trees were melting out.
It wasn't as breezy as it had been the week before. It wasn't until I
reached the ridge that I felt a cool breeze. There I changed back into my
flannel shirt and Gore-Tex, but that proved to be unnecessary. As soon as
I continued on the trail onto the south side of the peak, the wind stopped
and I was again too warm.
The rocks around the lookout were more exposed than the previous week.
Whereas snow used to lead to the base of the ladder, now there was about
ten feet of rocks to cross.
The rest of the guys had gotten up there about a half hour (?) before me
and a couple had hiked down along the ridge. After a short break to snack
on a bagel, we headed down. I wasn't sure whether I'd want to carry all
the water back down as my gluteus medius were getting sore from the load.
They bothered me a bit going down the south slope from the lookout, but
after the ridge they didn't bother me much at all.
I had some company on the descent from the lookout to the ridge,
where Rick accompanied me. Glenn and Harry noticed some climbers ascending
the north face of Pilchuck and watched them for a while. We all got
together at the ridge and then the three of them started glissading down
while I plunge stepped down. The snow was somewhat more consolidated than
before and I didn't sink in as much (except once when I fell through to my
thigh in a tree well). To my surprise, though they waited a little for me,
I pretty much kept up with the guys on the way down.
At the clearing, Harry and Rick continued straight while Glenn and I turned
left back the way we came. Harry and Rick say that you can continue
straight for a ways and then you end up meeting up with the main trail,
though it isn't clear to me how that can be. The main trail must curve
around a bit. When we got to the place where we first joined the main
trail on the way up, we elected to stay on the main trail instead of
descending the smaller trail we'd come up on. We'd done this (I thought)
the previous hike and it worked out just fine. This time the trail seemed
to somewhat peter out. We were paralleling the path we'd come in on.
Eventually we crossed to the left and rejoined the initial trail and hiked
out to the parking lot.
Again my boots worked just great. I am beginning to really like them for
snow travel. I think it may take some tightening to get them tight
enough. This time I tightened them when I first put them on. I later
tightened them while waiting for the guys at Granite Falls. They still
felt loose on my ascent, and I tightened them some more at the lookout.
They felt better on the way down. Perhaps as my foot settles into the
shoe, it leaves a bit more room that has to be taken out in the laces. I
used my large gaiters this time and they seem the perfect size for these
boots. There was just a smidgen of snow between the boot and the gaiters.
When I got home, there was a distinct demarcation line between the damp
leather and the dry leather right where the gaiter reached to.
All in all, I'd say that the weather was a tad nicer than the previous
week, though there were still minimal views. By the time I'd gotten home,
the flats were sunny, though looking back it looked like Pilchuck was still
John, below summit on the way back down.
John, at the ridge, with summit in background.
Hillside, viewed from the bottom.
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Last updated on: Mon Jun 8 16:50:16 PDT 2015