John Guilford's Hikes
Mt. Pilchuck on 2005-05-30
People: (including myself): Pam
Start: 12:10 3140 0
Ridge Trail: 1:54
Pam Summit: 2:10 5324 3
John Summit: 2:25 5324 3
Ridge Trail: 3:15
Out: 4:45 3140 6
The road up to the trailhead was in very good shape. It must have been
graded recently. There really wasn't much washboard nor pot holes. With
the warm, dry winter we didn't expect to see much snow (as opposed to the
Memorial Day hike (
2000-05-29) five years
ago). We did see some snow in patches, but it was very sparse. There was
also surprisingly little mud in the trail. People have put quite a bit of
work into maintaining the trail and protecting it from all the wear and
tear it gets from the many people who hike Pilchuck. All their work shows
in the high quality of the trail and the frequent steps and erosion
barriers along the way.
Despite some unseasonably warm weather a few days before, Memorial Day was
cloudy, cool, and damp. The cooler temperature was better for hiking, but
we would have preferred some sun. On the way up to the trailhead we drove
into the cloud and spent almost the entire hike inside mist and fog. At
times the mist added some nice effects, but it really limited views.
After a bit more than an hour, we encounted the wreckage of what we believe
to be building(s) from the old ski area. This is scattered around some
large concrete blocks that anchored the rope tow (?). In some of the rocks
you can find old, large bolts cemented in or holes that had been bored
through the granite.
A half hour beyond the wreckage, we came to a place where one can exit the
main trail (which continues on straight) or climb the rocks on the left
side of the trail and start following a yellow blazed trail scrambling over
rocks up the ridgeline to the lookout. John chose the blazed scramble
while Pam continued up the main trail.
Shortly after leaving the main trail, the blazed trail comes to a well
marked junction. One part leads back to the main trail (which John had
just climbed up), one part leads to a little lake (for drinking water, says
the sign), and the third leads up the ridge to the summit. It had been
years since John had climbed the ridge trail, and it was a bit more
challenging than he had remembered. It isn't that difficult, but it is a
scramble, and it is definitely slower than the main trail. Pam got to the
lookout about fifteen minutes earlier than John.
The lookout wasn't nearly as crowded as we had expected (with it being a
holiday), but we went down the ridge a bit from the lookout, got off the
trail, and sat down for lunch. There, we were out of the wind and it felt
reasonably warm. I did pull out my fleece (I had been hiking with just a
short sleeve shirt) as I started to cool off just sitting there. On the
way up the trail, people coming down told us that there lookout was above
the clouds and that there was a view up there. However, by the time we got
there, the clouds must have risen a bit as we were pretty fogged in. The
sun tried breaking through a couple times with limited success.
A half hour later we started back down (both of us going down the main
trail). The mist seemed even thicker on our way down than it did on the
Despite the mists, we were just surface damp. Along the way we heard
ptarmigans, owls, and marmots. Besides a few birds and a chipmunk or two,
we didn't see wild life. The hike was a successful hike for our first hike
of the year, and we enjoyed
ourselves. Pam hiked in her lightweight black socks with her orthotics
which seemed pretty effective at keeping her feet comfortable.
Trees in the mist half way up Mt. Pilchuck.
Blazed trail up rocks on ridgeline towards lookout.
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Last updated on: Mon Jun 8 16:50:16 PDT 2015