Mission Accomplished!

I completed my self-imposed (albeit slightly modified) hiking goal for the end of the summer. It feels good to finally set some type of goal, hiking or otherwise, and actually complete it. My hiking goals over the past few years have always seemed to dwindle and conveniently end up lost in some other ambition during the summer months. From August 3, 2019 to Sept 6, 2019 I hiked 17 individual hikes “Day hikes” along I-90 from Issaquah to Snoqualmie Pass. My total mileage was 107.2 miles and combined elevation gain was 40,600 feet. A few of the hikes were combined into one long hike (e.g. Mt Si and Teneriffe ).

—Longest one day hike- Mt Si / Teneriffe combined- 13.4 miles.

—Shortest one day hike- Either Cedar Butte or Rattlesnake ledge – both around 2.8 miles round trip. I did both in the same day.

—Most Elevation – Mailbox peak 4600 feet – (official record has it at 4100 ft)

—Least elevation – Probably a walk around Taylor Forest near the bottom of the west side of Tiger Mountain.

—Least interesting – Taylor Forest

—Most interesting – There are several to choose from, but Harry’s balcony and peak had some of the best views of the I-90 corridor. The peak is a shear drop off about 1500-2000 feet off the back side with a great view to the north of Granite lakes and beyond. The hike from Dirty Harry’s balcony to the peak is long, steep and uninteresting.

Most crowded – Rattlesnake ledge ridiculously packed with people on the trail. Little doggie poo bags littered the sides of the trail. I won’t be going back there again. Then the cringe factor of watching people walk out onto the trip-hazard-rock for that perfect  selfie– it’s inconceivable (“you keep using that word, I don’t think it means what you think it means” Princes Bride).  There is even a little memorial (or reminder) at the beginning of the hike for some poor person that was killed on the hike. I believe he fell from the ledge/rock.

Here are the pictures of the hikes. I tried to put them in the order I completed them….


Squak mountain- If you drive between Renton and Issaquah the back way (SR 900), you’ve probably passed the trailhead. The fireplace is what’s left of a weekend retreat that Charles Bullitt build in 1952. The Bullitt family owned 590 acres on Squak mountain and eventually donated it to King County parks with the caveat that no motor vehicles could ever be used on the property.

The top of Squak Mtn is used as a communications relay-thus the large towers of electronic looking thingies. …and the last pic says “Old Griz trail” so who doesn’t like things that are named after an animal that’s at the top of the food chain. Grrrrrr.

img_20190807_153035mvimg_20190807_152936 This was a hike to the top of Shriners peak east of Mt Rainier. It was outside of the I-90 corridor (obviously), but here are a couple of action shots.


Rattlesnake ledge…people risking death at the edge. I don’t get it. I always picture myself doing a little stumble on the rock and off I go. The view is the same back here on the dirt. The second picture is to the north, the first picture (with rock) is facing to the east.


Cedar Butte- This is a short trail just east of Rattlesnake ledge along the John Wayne Trail. Not much of a view, but the hike was nice—as in not crowded. On the rattlesnake ledge trail I counted around 200 people. On this hike, 1. Just me.


Little Si. If you drive to North Bend and notice a little hill in front of (to the south) of Mt Si, you’re looking at Little Si. It has some great rock climbing routes along the trail. the last picture is a picture of Big Si from the top of Little Si.


Big Mt Si and Mt Teneriffe combined hike–This was my longest day (13.4 miles). The second to last picture is a picture of Mailbox peak from the top of Mt Teneriffe.


Thompson Lake- Apparently the boat has a hole in the bottom of it. I spoke to “Jim” a guy I met on the Mt Defiance trail and he said that he stocks this lake with trout (he volunteers with the dept of fish and game), and was surprised when I told him I only caught a 2.5 inch trout.


The above three pictures are of Mt Washington- This is on the south side of I-90 across from Mt Si. It comes complete with it’s own weather station. Last picture is of Mt Si, exit 34 off I-90 and North Bend on the very left side of the picture.


The above three pics are of Mailbox peak. The mailbox is full of “meaningful” garbage. That’s cynical, I know, but it’s almost time to throw all the words of wisdom out and start over again. The last picture is of the new-new trail up and across the boulder field. It’s a great improvement from the root infested path that went around the other side. At the top of this portion of the path, which is to say the last 1/3 mile of the trail, is still a steep and dangerous mess. It’s apparently the most popular trail in the area. I believe Rattlesnake ledge takes top honors, but they’re not even in the same league. Mailbox is 4600 feet of elevation gain, and rattlesnake is around 1500ft or less.


Enroute to Mt Definance


The top of Bandera Mtn (almost)


Just dropped my snickers in the dirt.


Enroute to Mt Defiance


Pretty sure top of Mt Defiance

The above 5 pictures are of my combined Bandera Mountain, Mt Defiance, and almost Putrid Pete peak hike. I started the day early and made it to the top of Bandera Mtn quickly. I met some other hikers who told me that Mt Defiance was only another 4 or so miles down the trail, so I went with option B and decided to go for Mt Defiance too. Before making it to Mt Defiance other hikers said I should make it a complete loop and go to Putrid Pete’s peak and loop back to the car. I decided to choose option C and do the loop. After taking the wrong trail for about a mile, I finally found the “path” to Putrid Pete’s. The path continued along a mildly sketchy ridge until I found myself looking at a really steep peak hike…that was enough. I turned around and found myself choosing option D (which resembled option B, with another 3-4 miles extra). The below picture is of Putrid Pete’s peak. I made it to about 200 feet or so before the peak.


Putrid Pete peak (the highest peak in the pic)



Top of Granite Mountain


New toilet near top of Granite Mountain.


Legal notice posted near top of Dirty Harry’s peak


Enroute to Dirty Harry’s balcony/peak


Harrys Balcony – I-90


Top of Dirty Harry’s peak

The above 4 photos are of my hike up Dirty Harry’s balcony and peak. The balcony is a few miles up the trail, and the peak takes another 2 hours of up, up, up. Apparently there is a foreclosure of some sort on the land near the top and there is to be an auction at the King County courthouse in December. The picture from the top of Dirty Harrys peak is a bit deceiving. That’s a large lake below with large trees around it…it looks like grass or shrubs.


The above three photos are of my last I-90 hikes for the year, Mt Catherine. It’s a bumpy, four mile drive to the trailhead, and then a short 1.5 miles to the top. The peak is actually over Snoqualmie pass, but I figured it was a good hike to end the year on. Also, when I finished I could drive back to the top of the pass and have a victory meal and beer at the Commonwealth restaurant.

That’s it for my I-90 challenge. I’ll have to think up a new challenge before the snow starts.


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10 Hikes X 10 days = Exhaustion

I’m blaming it on the heat…and a whole lot of vertical elevation. I started the madness with the goal of completing all the hikes in the Mountaineers book “55 hikes around Snoqualmie pass.” I opened the first page and I was off running (hiking). I powered through the first few hike (Cougar Mountain, Squak Mountain, Tiger Mountain, and a quick hike in the Taylor forest), and quickly realized that many of these hikes are more akin to tracks in the woods than actual hikes. I suppose there needs to be a destination and purpose for the effort to make sense. A lake, peak or some interesting destination is needed to propel you forward. Otherwise it’s just swatting bugs and enduring chafe for your enjoyment. Which is masochism. Entertaining in it’s own right to be sure, but not very productive. Yes, I know, you’re probably thinking, “but I get to eat donuts [or pizza, or chips, or??] while I hike.” You’re right, but its impossible to out-hike a bad diet. I’ve tried, and lost.

Anyway, here are some of pictures from the 10 days of sweating, heavily.


This is from Squak mountain near Coal Creek. The area has several coal mine pits and lots of warning signs. Apparently the mines shafts run underneath the whole area at a depth of 1000 feet and they occasionally collapse. I think it’s a place where the Demogorgon would leave in the upside down.


I didn’t see any new or old Griz’s on the trail.


Cedar Butte – Near Rattlesnake lake


Rattlesnake ledge- People like to stand near the edge-???


Mt Si haystack


Near the top of Mt Si


Mt Teneriffe east of Mt Si


Shriner peak – East side of Mt Rainier Natl park



Shriner peak fire lookout-looking S/E


Shriner peak fire lookout


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Day 9 25 miles

I realized today that this hike has turned into a race to avoid other hikers at camp. Each camp has been packed. Many times I had to squeeze in next to someone (literally next to them), or walk on an unknown distance to find a camp. That’s not a big deal, unless you have already hiked 20 miles and you’re looking at another 5 just for the possibility to have a decent camp. Anyway here are some more pics…So many lizards in the desert.Lizard…YuccasWhere I camped. There were 8 other hikers here. They all left at 0400-0500 in the morning. I slept in to 0600.This will be my last post on this hike. There are too many too’s. Too hot, too sunburn, too tired…I think that this being my third time hiking the desert, has ended the PCT romance in this section. I met some great people I’m sure they’ll enjoy their trek ahead. I’m going to take a shower and plan for the upcoming summer in Washington.I’m spending 2 nights in Idyllwild where I ended my hike (151.8 miles).

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Day 8 4/23 25 miles

I didn’t have cell service for several days. Well, spotty at best. A lot of hot, dusty miles happened during that time. Desert hills and sketchy water, but I powered through. Here are some pics…

I think this is the yucca winner. Mr big.

Huge water cache. Trail Angels are the best.

Passing 100 miles. Third time doing it. Why?! I dont know.

PCT crossing cow pasture. It was 85 degrees.

Eagle rock in the distance. 90 degrees.

Eagle rock.

Best 1/2 mile of the day. Almost to Warner springs.

The 40 tents of Warner Springs. Too crowded.

I walked 3 miles past and set up camp.

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Day 7 4/22 17 miles

Late start, but still managed to get in 17 before dark. Perfect hiking weather. 70-75 degrees and cloudy most of the day.

Fellow hikers..

Agave plant.


7ft yucca.

Sunset near camp.

A glass of red wine and a rib eye is sounding pretty good about now. Oh, look…I have spam in a pouch!!! Warner springs tomorrow. Until then, aufweidersehen.

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Zero day in Julian

Up at 0630, packed and ready to go by 7. I slept 20 feet from the road that leads into Julian. Next to two cacti and a yucca. Within minutes of deploying my thumb in the appropriate direction, Abraham stopped and picked me up. He’s a cook in Julian and routinely picks up PCT hikers. 12 windy miles later I was in Julian.

Breakfast at the julian cafe.

Inside the Julian Gold Rush B n B.

Back on the dusty, hot trail today. I have new underwear and hiking pants waiting for me 30 miles ahead. Hopefully they will diminish the chafe issue. I keep hoping for a thigh gap. Which I learned is “a thing” not too long ago. That will be my mantra from now on… hiking for thigh gap.

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Day 5 4/20 24.7 miles

High winds and unfavorable camp sites led to this seasons first 25 mile day. With ear plugs in and a full 4 liters of water I marched towards the promise of a warm bed and a roof that didn’t shake from the wind. Fail. I made it to scissors crossing (intersection near Julian,CA), but my expectations were cut short by the herd of hikers already in town. No rooms available so I found a little corner of desert to share with the jack rabbits. Which are as big as dogs. Too fast to photograph.King of all yuccas. Poles next to it for reference.What am I looking at here?! A spam/frito burrito of course. Mmm good. It was like a superfood. I powered through 15 more miles after eating it.Just stomping along when I met this diamond back. It stuck its tongue out at me then slithered back into the bushes.

With no rooms to rent, this was my home the night before heading into Julian.Same site, different view.My reward in Julian the next morning.

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