Hiking Mount Si; Seattle’s Most Popular Day Hike
“Mountains are not stadiums where I satisfy my ambition to achieve, they are the cathedrals where I practice my religion.” (Anatoli Boukreev)
This summer Kaci and I were lucky enough to take a trip to Washington. Moreover, I chose to do my capstone course with Mississippi State University here. Washington has a lot of active geological processes taking place. I thought this area would be great for a field course. Since I was taking a field course with MSU, Kaci could not tag along on the trip. So, we devised a plan to turn my capstone course into a trip to Seattle before of after my class. We chose before. Now, no matter where Kaci and I travel, we always look to hike. So, finding out I would spend a big part of my summer in Washington, I started the search. I found that topping the list was Mount Si.
Getting to Mount Si
Located in the Northbend area of the Snoqualmie Region. Mount Si is one of the most popular hikes in Washington. What more is that if you visit Seattle during certain times of the year, you can catch a shuttle to the trail. Kaci and I walked a few blocks to the bus stop from our room and waited around 10-15 minutes. From here, we caught the shuttle just in front of the public library downtown. For about $2.50 the King County Metro shuttles you 45 minutes outside of Seattle to the Mount SI trailhead. If I remember correctly, there were around 3 different stops that you can hike to the top of Mount Si. This was an amazing service taken advantage of by many folks. The ride was on a short bus, so it was a bit bumpy but we didn’t mind.
Hitting the Trail
The trail gains around 3200 feet in roughly 4 miles. After reading some of the info at the trailhead we headed up. As soon as you hit the trail it turns and goes straight up into switchbacks. Furthermore, it seemed that you never walked more than a quarter of a mile before the trail switched back and turned the opposite direction. The elevation gain was a consistent grade most of the trail, around 30%. Another interesting fact is that the trail is covered with Banana Slugs.
These things were massive. They looked like the ones being thrown up by Ron Weasley in the Harry Potter movies. Anyways, the elevation was pretty tough but we managed to get into a smooth rhythm. It is said that a lot of people who plan to summit Mount Rainier come here to train. The word on the street is that if you can make it to the top with a fully loaded pack in under 2 hours then you are ready for Rainier.
The Summit of Mount Si
Ok, Mount Si has 2 summits. The first summit is a rock outcrop. Also, this outcrop has some areas that you can boulder to get a few nice views. Most people that hike Mount Si use this summit as a lunch spot before hiking back down. The second summit is called the “haystack”(pictured above). The “haystack” has a 150-200 foot climb. This climb does have a body count. We settled for the lunch spot.
The scenic overlook of the lunch spot gave us a view of the valleys below. After finding a spot to chill, we spent a good amount of time hanging out and enjoying the clear weather. We also watched local wildlife beg for crumbs from other hikers. Please don’t feed them. Then, out of nowhere, a hiker leaped off the side of the mountain releasing a parachute and zoomed across the sky with a glider. I was able to get some video of his glide too. Kaci and I both looked at each other and said, I wonder where he will land? After lunch and some photos, we headed back down the mountain.
For anyone visiting Seattle, Mount Si is a great place to stretch your hiking legs. The elevation gain was steady and tough, but not overwhelming. Being able to use the metro for transportation was a clutch move. The trail is in good condition, well maintained and over 100,000 people visit it a year. But, even though a lot of people use the trail, it is not overcrowded. After completing this hike it’s no wonder that it’s the most popular in the state.
P.S. As Kaci and I hopped back on the shuttle and sat down to prepare for the ride back, another hiker jumped on behind us. Low and behold it was the paraglider. He landed in a field a few hundred yards away from the trailhead and walked back over to the shuttle station. We talked to him about his gliding and uploaded the video I took off his descent to his cloud. Here is a link to a video of our hike with some of the glider footage. https://youtu.be/ysZFU5zX6SU
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