Only one in Washington refers......to the fact that Mt. Pilchuck was the only Washington peak I was able to visit in the year 2009. I had big plans for more Washington peaks in the calendar year and definitely had my sights on Mt. Baker, Mt. Stuart and Glacier Peak but as things turned out, I only was able to visit just Mt. Pilchuck as weather and timing worked nicely to keep me from being able to do those other ones. I hope I can always say, "theres always next year" and get back to Washington in 2010.
Since Washington state was my stomping grounds before I made the move to Utah, it seemed a little strange to only get the one peak in. However, I won't complain since I had a great day on Mt. Pilchuck and Mt. Pilchuck was a peak I had wanted to climb for years but just never got around to. I remember looking across at it from the top of Three Fingers and figuring that it'd be one of the next ones I'd get to. I have a special place in my heart for peaks that have lookouts on them since when I was a teenager I wanted to be a person who manned a lookout. It seemed like a cool thing to be able to do but like so many dreams that teenagers have, it disappeared as I got older and had to deal with the real world. Visiting a peak with a lookout is always something I particularly enjoy and look forward to and Mt. Pilchuck was particularly attractive since it was being kept in great condition by a group of folks of the Everett Mountaineers.
Onto PilchuckWe had made the trip from Utah to Washington as part of a family visit and had a couple days in between family events so I knew I had my chance to finally get to visit Mt. Pilchuck. We made our way to a campground near Verlot and
spent the night prior to making our way up to the trailhead for Mt. Pilchuck that wasn't that far from where we camped. Noting that there were already
8 or 9 cars at the trailhead, I was a bit surprised to see that many cars on a tuesday. Of course, the parking lot was filled when I came down off the mountain but that shouldn't have surprised me considering the proximity to
Everett and the popularity that this mountain has.
Due to it popularity, people also get in trouble on it and two guys had gotten lost and had been rescued just the weekend previous as they became disoriented by the snow and some fog. I had also knew a father who had lost his son on Mt. Pilchuck as his son and a girlfriend had died when they did a glissade that took them off of a cliff (probably in the 1990 time frame) so Mt. Pilchuck needs to be respected by those who visit it when it is snow covered.
The hikeI left the parking area and started up the trail, hitting some spots that had
nice "steps" made during the earlier part of the hike. I hit snow at 4100 feet and it became totally solid at the 4400 foot level.
I noticed different paths everywhere in the snow and continued following what appeared to be the logical way to the summit. When that logical way seemed to get a bit confusing, I took a break and grabbed a snack. A couple of hikers came up to where I was taking the break and we got to talking and during our discussion I found out that they had been to the summit before, but never when it had so much snow. Still, they knew where the summer trail was and I just trucked in behind them and together we made our way up the sometimes confusing
slopes and a sign that indicated we were heading up the right way.
The trail was covered by several feet of snow but the hikers that had gone before us in the past few days had beaten a pretty solid track into that snow and the route up was never in doubt. Before long, I came to a spot where I could see the lookout above me and a few people that had already been to the lookout started passing me as they made their way downward.
The lookout kept getting closer and while not always in view, I could feel
its nearness. Then I hit a saddle and could see all of it, up to my left and made the way to some really large boulders and up to a ladder that extended down from the lookout. Inside the lookout were a few people and a register as well as some historical pictures and information plaques. The views were just outstanding in all directions and I called my wife to let her know that I was at the lookout and enjoying the moment. Looking over to Three Fingers, I felt a warm fuzzy feeling remembering the great hike I had enjoyed to get to that lookout and then to Glacier Peak, still high on my to do and want list. Washington is such a beautiful state and the mountains are one of the appealing aspects that make it such a great place.
I made my way back down after spending about a half hour at the lookout and met my wife as she was hiking up the trail to meet me. It was funny but rather than talk about Mt. Pilchuck with her, I was already talking and looking ahead to climbing Glacier Peak. So typical of those who are addicted to the mountains.
Overall: 5 1/2 miles roundtrip with 2200' of elevation gain