Getting it Right on McDonald Mountain

Getting it Right on McDonald Mountain

Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: Nov 30, 0000
Activities Activities: Hiking
Seasons Season: Fall

The Trip Report

Here is a trip report that should be a warning for all to do your research before you write up a mountain on Summitpost. It is very important to take some time to study maps and look at a number of web pages before you try to write up a mountain. After doing very little research on this mountain I decided to go up this mountain as a bailout when another trip disappeared. I got to what I thought was the summit and then found out later that I was describing a false summit and not the true summit.

Well I am not about to keep an incomplete page of a mountain on Summitpost. So I decided to do a little more research and then head back there for a second shot. After adding 14 more miles and another day I corrected the page and now feel confident about the page. But it should be noted that it costed me another mountain or two to get it right. So I recommend to all do really do your research first so you get it right the FIRST TIME!!!

The first trip

McDonald Mountain

Well it was a rainy morning and I got to enjoy a good breakfast with friends. But after eating that food I realized that in spite of the rain I was in a mood for something more, summits. I am tired of the usual local I-90 peaks and wanted to do something different but something safe and short. I read BikeJr's McDonald Mountain Trip Report on and decided to give him a call on more details. Not only did he give me more details but also he decided to go with me on this trip.

So by 1 pm. we were at the trailhead. It was raining but we expected that. At the beginning it was actually pouring but it did not bother us. We both headed up the dirt path past the sinkhole and continued up the dirt road. Some views came out on the clear-cut of Rattlesnake Ledge and the Issaquah Alps. It was actually cool to see the Issaquah Alps from a different angle.

McDonald Mountain

We continued up the mountain, dodging showers from time to time. We set a good pace and were on what we thought was the summit in easily under 2 hours. At first we were greeted with a whiteout, so we decided to hang on the summit for a while to see if something would break out. Ten minutes later the clouds lift enough to give us some views of the lower elevations. The hints we got were good enough to give me an idea of this mountain's potential. We were able to see downtown Seattle, the Puget Sound as well as some of the lower Cascade foothills near Enumclaw. Definitely worth getting out, even on a day like today.

McDonald Mountain

After about an hour we decided to head on down. The weather became better as we headed on down. The clouds were rising and the rain was gone. When we entered the clear-cut, we were greeted with much better views. On the way down I even saw some blue sky. Back to the car I was happy because I thought I had finished off a surprise mountain. Little did I know that I had messed up.

That night I wrote up the McDonald Mountain page not realizing that I did not make the true summit. I was actually happy because I thought I found a diamond in the rough on a day that was not looking very promising. Unfortunately two days later that I was not on the true summit and the true summit was actually three more miles to the southeast. I felt rather embarrassed by this fact and I knew that I had to go back and make things right. Over the years I have put up many mountains on SP and I wasn't about to start putting up pages of peaks I didn't summit.

The Second Trip: Making it Right

So a little over a month later I decided to head back to the mountain again. This time the weather was actually very similar. This time I was hiking with a relative to newcomer who I met at the gym. I brought along my friend Gabe from the gym who hasn't gone hiking since he did Half Dome in Yosemite three years ago. He kept telling me he could easily run up mountains like they were nothing. I knew he was strong but I wondered how fast he really was. Honestly I wondered how this was going to work.

Well I found out in a hurry how fast he really was when he took off from the trailhead in an all out run (no not a jog either). He made the communications tower (4 miles 2000 feet elevation gain) in 30 minutes, which leads me to believe he could probably do Mount Si in well under an hour. Luckily he had a good map and so did I , so we agreed to reach this location. He waited there for me who preformed a mixed fast walk and run and met up with him about 15 minutes later and from there we walked and ran to the true summit. We stayed very close by for the rest of the trip after meeting at the communication tower.

We follow the ridge down that followed a number of service roads to the true summit and did about 7+ miles in 1 1/2 hours in variable run/walk fashion. This was actually quicker than BikeJr and me on the first trip!!! I was the slow one here and he might have made it to the true summit in a little over an hour at his pace. All I heard while I was on the summit was how he felt he was out of shape because he was breathing heavy on the first bit. For him though it was a definite confidence booster about doing bigger mountains in the future. For me it was relief that now I have made the summit and now can truly tell the story of this mountain and how to make it there.

True summit views

The true summit itself at first looked like it had no view at all. However if you do a little investigating you will end up with an area with views that are somewhat similar to the false summit. Unfortunately for us, all we had was fogged in views or views of some interesting cloud formations. This is the second time here and the weather, though a little less rainy, was about the same as the last time. Next time I go up here I hope to see it on a pretty day.

True summit views

After spending a while on the summit we decided to head down. Our trip down was the same pace as or way up, fast. Again it was about an hour and a half down. The clear-cut section of this mountain was offering some great views of downtown Seattle as well as the Issaquah Alps and Rattlesnake Ledge. The fall colors were out on the trail making this trail even more scenic. We continued down at the torrid pace and were quickly back at the car.

Fall on the trail

Clearcut views

I was very glad to finally cement this mountain to my summit log and now be able to provide a page with my personal summit details. McDonald Mountain along with all mountains on Summitpost deserve that treatment and now the mountain finally has that. Along the way I got to hike with two good friends and made the most of two great days. Because it is closeby I will probably be back for more info. After all I have to head back sometime on a clear day to get the best photos!!!


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