Monday, April 6, 2009

Two hikes, April 4/April 5 2009

FROM SNOW TO ESTUARY (two hikes, April 4 and April 5)

High Point Trail, Tiger Mountain Trail to Fred’s Corner (West Tiger Mountain Natural Resources Conservation Area), April 4, 2009

Finally, it is beginning to feel like spring – this past weekend was the first sunny weekend we’ve had in a while. How better to spend it than hike both days.

This was the first hike of the weekend, a Mountaineer hike I co-led with a new leader, serving as her mentor. Due to the snowy weather we’d had to change the destination and since it was the first Mountaineers Conditioning Hikes Series, we chose Tiger Mountain as our last-minute destination.

We started out on the High Point Trail and followed that to the junction with the Tiger Mountain Trail (the TMT). The trail soon became a mess of sloppy snow and mud but the promise of warm weather lured us a little further to where the TMT crosses High Point Creek. Here, we found the bridge closed and though it looked “safe” enough to cross we wanted to set a good example and not break the rules. We did, however, attempt to make a bridge (to no avail).

Though this was the first CHS hike of the season but the group was strong and we weren’t ready to turn around so we went the other direction on the TMT, climbing to Fred’s corner. We dubbed this hike hike “The Bridges of Tiger Mountain” with apologies to the author of “The Bridges of Madison County”. Counting the small bridges over tributaries, there are a lot of bridges on Tiger Mountain.

By the time we got to Fred’s Corner (where it meets an old railroad grade) we were in about a foot of snow and that was melting fast. Just below Fred’s Corner was a sunny, spot where we’d stop for lunch after checking out the next “big” bridge (about 0.3 miles from Fred’s Corner on the TMT). The bridge was in fine shape; just beyond a landslide occurred earlier in the year.

During lunch one the hikers got out his GPS and suggested we make a loop (a little too complicated to describe here but if you’ve got the map you’ll discover other ways to get back to High Point). Thanks to the GPS we knew where to go when we reached a couple of unsigned junctions and soon were back on the High Point trail and the trailhead.

We estimated we hiked roughly 5.5 miles with approximately 1,600 feet of elevation gain (including numerous ups and downs).

Sturdy boots with gaiters are suggested for these trails. While we were in snow at higher elevations it is melting fast with these warming temperatures and there will be mud where a couple days ago there was snow. In a word; messy!

Signs of spring were still far and few between – Indian plum in bloom, 2-3 battered skunk cabbages, leaves of fringe-cup, bleeding hearts and wild ginger (no flowers yet), elderberry starting to leaf out as is salmonberry. .

A cautionary note: don’t attempt these loops without the map and if you’ve got a GPS, put that in your pack too. You may need it.

Getting to the trailhead: From Seattle take I-90 eastbound and get off at High Point Exit No. 20 just outside of Issaquah. Exit (right) and park along the frontage road near the gated road, elevation 560 feet – don’t block the road, driveways or leave valuables in your car – there have been break-ins at trailheads along I-90.

Map, trail descriptions and signs are not always in accord. The map is Green Trails Tiger Mountain Map 204S, Issaquah Alps Series.

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