As far as hikes go, I got a little bit of a later start than I was hoping. Originally my plan for this year was to do two hikes a week or one overnight starting the first week of June. To say that I got weathered out is a cop out statement, but I'm still making it. We've had some nice clear spring days this month for sure, but we've definitely had some of the Northwest's chilly rainy trademarks. Normally, I like spring rain, but every day that it was nasty on a planned hike day, there was a bite in the air that I was not fond of.
I got my first hike of the season out of the way last week. As per my yearly tradition, I chose Pilchuck Summit to kick it off. It was a little early in the season to do this hike, but the weather was beautiful, and I was feeling confident. I won't go into too much detail this time around, partially because I didn't take a real camera with me, but also because I wasn't able to make it to the summit. I will do this again in about a month, and hopefully the summit will be passable. I put on my new Osprey Exos 58, and loaded up with about 35lbs of weight, to start training myself for late summer's overnight packs.
The first half of the hike started pretty normally: damp green forests with the sun shining through, and a well beaten trail. I love this part of the hike. Lush evergreen forests are the lovely reward of our high rainfall. At the one mile mark, you hit a little rock outcropping that gives you a gorgeous view of Rainier. This is the only place you can see that mountain until you hit the summit. About a quarter mile further up the trail is where things got interesting. I hit the snow line. The first half a mile passed a little slowly, but without much difficulty. I would estimate that here the snow was around 5 or 6 feet deep, but it was easy to walk on top of. It was fairly firm, but the top few inches was loose and a little slushy, which enabled you to dig in where needed. After that first half mile, the 'trail'(being footsteps in the snow) hooks right and you can see the summit, as well as the north face of the mountain. I've seen it in the summer multiple times and it's quite pretty, but this was the first time I'd seen it as a snow field. I wish I would have brought my sunglasses! It was beautiful, albeit bright.
This is where it got difficult. Knowing the way and having no crampons, I avoided the straight shot of smoothed out footsteps in the snow, and rather created my own switchbacks across the path. I've never done snow hiking before, but I applied the same concepts as traversing steep hillsides during the hunting season. SIDEHILLING IS YOUR FRIEND. Made it almost to the top(over some incredibly sketchy terrain) before the snow got to a point where I felt uncomfortable continuing.
Overall, it was a good hike, and I kept my weighted pack on without break or sitting for almost 5 hours. To top it all off, in the morning, I wasn't even sore! Going to go do a hike called Lake 22 tomorrow. Lower altitude without a lot of elevation gain, so snow shouldn't be an issue. Loading the pack up, so since there's no snow, I'll be able to keep the pace a little more brisk. May post about it, but we'll see!