To the top: A journey up Mount Si | Life Outdoors

Not everyone’s idea of a perfect day off is waking up at 5 a.m. and hiking for six hours. Usually it involves shutting off all alarms, sleeping in, enjoying a nice cup of coffee at your leisure and planning out the rest of your day. But, when you want to do a hike and avoid heat and crowds, waking up at 5 a.m. on your day off is really the only way to get the job done.

  • Friday, August 7, 2015 2:45pm
  • Life

The Haystack is about a 40-minute climb when you take it really slow. Those tiny stick-looking figures at the top are people

By Rebecca Gourley

Covington/Maple Valley reporter

Not everyone’s idea of a perfect day off is waking up at 5 a.m. and hiking for six hours. Usually it involves shutting off all alarms, sleeping in, enjoying a nice cup of coffee at your leisure and planning out the rest of your day.

But, when you want to do a hike and avoid heat and crowds, waking up at 5 a.m. on your day off is really the only way to get the job done.

Mount Si is known in this area for the spectacular view at the top and possibly one of the longest day hikes.

In the early morning, the trail is entirely shaded by the mountain itself and the thick canopy of trees. This obviously makes for an easier ascent. It’s still not an easy hike, especially for a pair of amateur hikers, but it is certainly better than leaving the bottom mid-day and arriving back at your car when it’s been in the mid 90s for several hours.

The hike itself is about 8 miles roundtrip and about a 3,000-foot elevation gain.

My first word of advice for anyone wanting to try to tackle this beastly hike is… take is sloooooow. Take it very slow. Especially if you’re new to big hikes.

I had a goal of making it up to the base of Haystack, which is the name of the last climb (literally a climb) to the very tippy top, in less than 3 hours. I made it, with two minutes to spare. Climbing Haystack took another 40 minutes or so.

We encountered a man who passed us on the trail five times. Yes, that means he ran up and down Mount Si three times in the time it took us to do it once. That should give you an indication of how slow we were going. The man said he does it almost every weekend. So don’t go trying to run Mount Si even once unless you’re an advanced runner/hiker (crazy person).

During the course of our adventure going up and down the mountain, I took note of a few things that may be helpful to the amateur hiker that wants to challenge themselves with a trip up Mount Si.

First, items that you cannot forget: sunscreen, chap stick, bug spray, self-adhesive gauze wrap, bandaids, at least two liters of water per person, high-protein energy bar (we brought Clif Builder’s bars and zucchini chips), an extra pair of socks and of course your camera or phone for a picture of the view from the top. We also saw people with walking sticks who looked like they made the climb a bit easier, whole picnic lunches and their dogs. I don’t think our cat, Gary, would have liked the hike too much so we left him at home.

The first few minutes of the hike are very deceiving. It starts out very flat and then quickly becomes very steep. If you can make it to the 15-minute mark without turning around and stopping for a while, you’re probably good to go the rest of the way.

At a certain point, pain and being out of breath all becomes very relative. What was painful to you at the beginning of the hike becomes a piece of cake about an hour into it.

Still take breaks whenever necessary because all that matters is that you make it up, not that you can do it in an hour.

In the words of my boyfriend, “I’d rather take more breaks and have it take longer, than quit.”

Haystack

Climbing the last part can be very challenging, especially for those of us that are terrified of falling to our death (me). If you’re not very balanced, I would just pick a nice spot at the top of Mount Si and call it good. The view is still pretty good from here. But, if you’re up for the challenge and for the ego-building ability to say you got to the top of Haystack, by all means keep going.

Once you get to the top of Mount Si (before Haystack), the path will be over some rocks and then make a nice little turn to the back of the stack. Climbing it is easier if you stick to the left side of the slope, where there are more rocks and therefore more footholds. But, keep in mind that you will have to come back down this steep slope, which, for some people, is a lot harder and scarier than going up. The trick to going down is simple: genetics and having a low center of gravity. Or, just sit down and drag your behind along the rocks until you reach the bottom. Either way gets the job done.

Again, take Haystack slow. There’s no need to rush it, the top is so close, and the fall is quite far.

Note: A Discover Pass is required to park at the trailhead.

 

More in Life

Get your fill of winter activities on Mount Rainier

Mount Rainier’s landscape undergoes a dramatic transformation in winter.

Bonney Lake, Sumner gear up for holiday festivities

Plateau holiday festivities are right around the corner.

Enumclaw, Buckley busy during the holidays

What’s going on during the holiday season on the Plateau? Here’s a list of activities you and your family may enjoy!

Giving Trees help kids with Christmas

Nexus Youth And Families Enumclaw is asking local residents to help a child in need this Christmas by participating in the organization’s Giving Tree program.

Santa’s Mystery Brunch: An interactive family whodunit | Pierce County

At “Santa’s Mystery Brunch,” an interactive family whodunit, audience members become detectives to help solve who stole Santa’s magical bag filled with toys and presents.

Preventing a Hepatitis A outbreak | Public Health Insider

Hepatitis A is a liver disease caused by a highly contagious virus. A large outbreak in San Diego, along with outbreaks in Los Angeles and in Salt Lake City has Public Health officials concerned that a hepatitis A outbreak could occur in King County. Dr. Jeff Duchin, King County’s Health Officer, explains who’s at risk and what can be done to prevent an outbreak.

Rescue group aims to save dogs’ lives; Saturday fun run will benefit the cause

All great dogs end with a tail, but this great tale begins with a dog.

Annual quilt show coming to Expo Center

The Crystal Quilters are preparing for a return to the Enumclaw Expo Center, getting ready for their 22nd annual quilt show.

Scottish Country dancers return to Enumclaw for 23rd year

For more than two decades, this group of dancers — now led by Jim and Pat McDonald — has been encouraging people from all over South King County and East Pierce County to learn more about their Scottish heritage or, barring a clan bloodline, to just get out and try something new.

Learn to compost with some red wrigglers

The Dinkelman Worm Farm is hosting a vermiculture demonstration — or the cultivation of earth worms — at the Delvin Farms Good For All Plants event next weekend to help people create compost in their own homes to help benefit their gardens or farms.

Free series provides insight from expert on death, dying

As a funeral home director in the 1980s, Duane Weeks began wondering why people weren’t dealing with death very well.

Use our blessings to serve others | Church Corner

As the smoke and ash rolled in this week, and last, I stood in awe of it’s quantity and thickness. The snowflake-like ash fell to the ground covering patio furniture, cars and even settling like dander on my head and across my shoulders. It was a unique experience.