Granite Mountain Hike
Sunday September 25th 2005
Bill invited us to join him and Shannon on a weekend hike in September. What a great idea! Ramone was temporarily staying with us at the time, and decided to join us. We decide to take a hike up Granite Mountain. It was a 4 mile hike one way, but with 3900 feet of elevation gain. It was the toughest trail in Melanie's book "Beyond Mount Si - 85 hikes within 40 miles of Seattle"
Melanie next to the starting sign. It's only four miles to the top. How hard can it be? Plenty tough!
We had such perfect sunny weather. Seattle isn't always rainy and cloudy. Under the blue skies and bright sun all the fall colors stood out. Here is a hillside with enough color to challenge any landscape painter's palette.
Melanie set a blistering pace up the trail, despite the relentless elevation gain. To catch my breath, I stopped to take plenty of pictures. Fortunately, there were many spots worthy of a photo.
On the way up, it seemly took forever to finally climb above the timberline. We hiked and hiked and finally got out from under the trees and into the warm sun. But on the way down, it seemed to take even longer to finally reach the cooling shade of the trees. I guess I was moving a whole lot slower on the down hill stretch, we really set a fast pace on the uphill portion. I thought hiking to the top of a mountain was exercise enough, but Melanie and Ramone were eager to get a real workout!
We climbed past several large rockslides. Boulders that had tumbled down from an eroding peak. Only a few more million years, and this hike won't be nearly so tough! I like the orange tint to the dead pine in the foreground of the first photograph.
The autumn hillside was an explosion of color, so I took a plenty of photos. September must be the ideal month for making this hike. The third picture below turned out the best, but all the pictures below nicely display the varied colors on the trail
The group had to wait for me to catch up. It's because I was taking so many pictures, not because I was falling off of the breakneck pace!
Looking down the fern-covered hillside toward the freeway. We drove that road to reach the trailhead, so it is easy to see how high we have climbed already.
After climbing for quite some time, we spotted Mount Rainier to the south. It was higher than all the nearby peaks. What a tremendous mountain. It is great to be rewarded with such awesome sight after all that climbing. Some days the weather is not clear enough to allow people on Granite Mountain to see Rainier.
If you look closely in the next photograph, you can see the firestation at the summit of Mount Granite. The peak lots relatively closely at this point, but the trail winds around the back from this point, and there is still a bit of climbing to get to the top. (Click on the photo to see the big view of the photograph - it is much easier to spot the fire station in the enlarged format)
This is the view of some nearby mountains as the trail climbs to the summit of Mount Granite. The second photo shows the fire station. After all that hiking and climbing, we are finally getting close to the finish!
We came around a last switch back and found ourselves right at the Fire Station.
I stood on the four sides of the fire station lookout tower and took photos in all four directions of the compass. These are the views you get from the top on a clear day. You can see Mount Rainier when facing south, it looms over all the closer mountains, it is such a gigantic mountain! I bet it is 80 miles distant. The snow covered peak in the third photo is Mount Baker, in the distant north west.
We enjoyed our lunch at the top. The ranger working inside the lookout tower had a tiny oven, and she had made fresh cookies for all the hikers that completed the hike to the top. How about that for a sweet reward?
One more picture from on the top, and then it was time to begin the descent.
This is my favorite photo from the hike. Some how the colors turned out just perfect. This is a meadow that you cross just before the finally ascent. I took this picture on the way down. Perhaps I like this meadow so much because it was about the only level stretch of ground we crossed on the entire climb to the summit!
More colors on the hillside. In the bright sun and under blue skies, I guess anything would look good. But this exceptional hillside with its brilliant gold, red and yellow falls colors was worthy of a photograph.
The colors on the hillside where just a varied and bright on the way down as they were on the way up. Look at all those red colors.
I have no idea what kind of berries these are, but I doubt they are edible. But Melanie found some wild blueberries elsewhere on the climb.
We had ideal conditions for this hike. If you go, bring a hat to keep the sun off, and plenty of drinking water. It isn't always so clear, we drove past Granite Mountain a few weeks later (when we were doing our trip to Snow Lake) and there was snow up on the summit of Granite Mountain. I don't know if the trail is still open that late in the year, so probably a September trip is the best option.
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