An amalgamation of factors, including the need for sleep, precluded a "real" climb today. Instead, I went for a conditioner and a close objective that I have not done in many years (at least ten). The target was Mount Si, elevation 4,167 feet. With 3,600+ vertical and 4 miles of consistent incline (there is literally no downhill at all and only one short 3/8 mile section of flat), Mount Si is known as a great conditioner for many people aspiring to climb Mount Rainier.
Mount Si is a very impressive looking peak from the Snoqualmie Valley rising over 3,600 feet directly above the town of North Bend. The close proximity to Seattle and the snow-free trail in the early season makes this place a bonanza on the weekends. Today was no different. Literally hundreds of cars were parked everywhere (many not in designated spaces). There were runners, hikers, families, and plenty of dogs trudging up the steep and switchback riddled trail to the Mount Si ridge. I did not come here expecting a wilderness experience, but it is fun to people watch 🙂
Most hikers who make the ridge call it a day, but the true summit is atop Haystack Rock, the trademark feature of Mount Si (the rock looks smaller than it actually is in the photo, notice the people on the boulder in the middle-left of the photo to get a feel for the size). Haystack involves about 300 vertical feet of rock scrambling. Very few people went for the rock on this day, just me and a few others on the summit. The views were decent, especially to North Bend and the Snoqualmie Valley. The Seattle skyline could be seen in the distance.
Viewing this hike as a conditioner, I decided to push the pace – and that I did. It was mostly just fast hiking through the forest; once I got in a rhythm it was rock and roll up the mountain! I covered the first 4 miles of relentless switch-backing and steep incline in 57 minutes. I continued on to Haystack rock and scaled the final portion as quick as I could topping out at 64 minutes flat. I guess my goal next time is to do it in under an hour. Still, its a really good effort considering I remember this hike as dreadfully long (well over 2 hours for the ascent) from my experience over ten years ago.
I rested on the summit for a short while and then began the jog down the mountain. I popped out at the trailhead 45 minutes later. The total climb, including the rest on Haystack, took me 1 hour and 58 minutes and elevation gain was 3,600+ feet. The hike was really fun and I am happy to see that I am in good shape for some longer and more rewarding climbs in the coming weeks and months.