Monday, March 1, 2010

Wintertime at Mt. Pilchuck 2/28/2010

Heading to Mt. Pilchuck in February? Unheard of unless you are an experienced winter scrambler willing to take the 11 mile route from Pinnacle Lake.

Most of the years snowshoeing Pilchuck means starting from the bottom and heading up the snowed in road to the summer trailhead. Not this year. This year is so much different from all the previous 5 seasons I've actively hiked/snowhoed in Washington State.

As incredible as it sounds, we were able to drive hubby's 2WD Toyota all the way to the summer trailhead, and hike nearly 1000 ft from there to reach the snow. And so were many others.

Mt. Pilchuck is one of the most visited trails in western WA. Gaining about 2500 ft in 3 miles, it is a pretty decent hike, yet hundreds of people attempt to reach the lookout at it's summit every weekend, no matter what the weather.

It was the very first mountain I climbed in WA state and I returned several more times, sometimes the views were spectacular, sometimes we could not see a stretched arm distance, yet every time the trailhead was packed and we met many people along the trail. It's simply one of the places you can't expect solitude, and every time you hike it, you meet somebody you know.

Today turned out great. It was only me and hubs, and we had a later start since I did 3800 ft hike yesterday and wanted to enjoy sleeping in (if alarm buzzing at 7:30 a.m. counts as sleeping in anyway).

It was somewhat foggy in the morning hours but soon after we broke from the forest, the sun got out and created amazing window for us to enjoy all the views, the summits, and even get a tiny bit of vitamin D.

The trail was well defined but rather slippery and we opted to use crampons for added traction. Yak Traks would be just fine but since I let them rest in the trunk of our vehicle, the crampons did the trick.... and we were jealously looked at by many of other visitors who did not bring any traction device whatsoever.

We enjoyed about 30 minutes at the summit before heading down.

I always wanted to get up there in the wintertime and the scenery did not disappoint. I will definitely do another winter ascent of Pilchuck in the future.

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