Granite Mountain has been on my to-do list for a few years and almost all the pieces fell into place today to make this a reality.
This trail is located just off I-90 at Exit 47. For those of you who aren't familiar with the area, it's about 47 miles east of Seattle, just before Snoqualmie Pass (where I-90 crosses from Western Washington into Eastern Washington).
Due to it's ease of access and proximity, the trail is used frequently - despite the 3,839 feet of elevation gain over 4.3 miles. So, it's steep - but not excessively steep, by Cascade standards anyway. The trail ends at about 5639 feet above sea level.
This hike has a couple of unique features:
The main attraction is the Fire Lookout that is located at the top of Granite Mountain. You can actually see the lookout from I-90, but today is the first time I've ever noticed it.
The second main attraction is the alternative 'scramble' route that follows the final ridge. You can either follow the regular trail (longer) or you can take the shorter 'scramble' route over and around boulders along the final ridge toward the Lookout.
The third main attraction, when the weather cooperates, are the fantastic views... including Mount Rainier. As a side note, due to all the recent flooding, almost all of the Mt. Rainier National Park is closed until this next Friday.
Lots of nice people on the trail today, but no wildlife of any kind --- except for bugs (believe it or not).
Pictures (in no particular order):
Despite the fantastic weather and great views, my body simply wasn't willing to cooperate on the trail today. Calf and thigh cramps started to plague me at about the 2 mile mark and despite my slowing pace, frequent hydrating and eating they wouldn't relent.
When my turnaround-time alarm sounded I was so close to the lookout, but my pace was only slowing and the cramps were increasing... so I'll have to head back next summer to finish the last 300 feet of vertical.
Even so, it was a beautiful day on the trail and I'm glad I became familiar with a trail that is 'new-to-me'.
Next outing is scheduled for December 13, 2008 but that date may have to change to accommodate family Christmas plans. Pleas stay tuned... or contact me to discuss it.