Lake George

Lake George
Lake George - from Tongue Mtn Range - 11/11/2011

Friday, October 19, 2012

Granite Mountain - Alpine Lakes Wilderness, WA - 10/13/12

The Seattle area had just gone through 61 days with no significant precipitation.  Upon my arrival on 10/11 however, the weather was changing and the 2 week forecast looked pretty wet.   I decided that the rain wasn't going to slow me down on my vacation.
Trail description at the trailhead kiosk

Leesa was working in Bellevue, outside of Seattle. I decided to head east on I-90 towards Snoqualmie Pass. Washington has lots of great hiking everywhere, so I just had to pick a hike and get outdoors.

Entering the Alpine Lakes Wilderness

My choice on this Saturday was Granite Mountain.  The trailhead is located just off Exit 47, slightly west of Snoqualmie Pass and about an hour and 15 minutes east of Bellevue.  My decision to hike Granite was based on the hike description from the Washington Trails Association Hiking Guide

A high plateau on Granite.

The forecast called for scattered rain and temperatures in low 50's in the valley.  I got together my day pack and wet weather gear and headed out.  The hike was an 8 mile round trip hike.  At the top of Granite Mountain is an old fire lookout.  I didn't expect it to be open, but I thought it would be nice to check out.   

The last rocky push to the top

One thing I always notice about hiking in the west, is how much easier the hiking is, due to the smooth trails.  They are generally fine gravel and sand as opposed to the mud, rocks and roots in the Adirondacks of NY where I generally hike.

Light rain brought the clouds down and limited visibility

On the way up I passed two women going up and three women going down who had to turn around because they didn't have enough time to reach the summit due to other commitments on the day.  Too bad.   

Really interesting area

My favorite spot was a rocky alpine meadow just before the rock scramble to the summit.  It looked really neat in the foggy, rainy mist of the day.

After completing the scramble, the fire lookout became visible at the summit.  To my good fortune, the cab was open.  A Forest Service volunteer was there to stay overnight and close the building up for the winter.  When I stepped in, the building was full of people.  There was a japanese group of eight who looked like they were hiking to Mount Everest.  They had all kinds of winter gear with them.  They were cooking up a storm for lunch.  There were three other groups there also.  Fortunately, they were all ready to head back down, so I got to spend some time talking to the FS volunteer.  I ended up carrying some paint back down to the bottom that he needed to get out of the building. 

On my way back down, the rain stopped for a while and the clouds lifted a bit.  I was able to get a view of the mountains across the valley.

Approching the fire lookout


The fall colors were near peak up high on the mountain.  The leaves of the Huckleberry bushes were brightly colored as were all the other bushes.  It would have been really bright on a sunny day.  In any case, it was neat to be up in the mountains and see the clouds blow in and out.

Can't see anything from here today

The rain never got too bad during the day, so I was only partially wet at the end of the hike.  Granite is a great mountain to hike, even if visbility is limited.  A good first choice to start my vacation.

A book about the tower

Inside the cab of the fire lookout 

Heading back down

The rain stopped for a little while and the clouds lifted

Finally a little visibility

Hike Stats:
Hike Distance:  8 miles roundtrip
Hike Time:  4 hours (including stops)
Base Elevation:  1880'
Summit Elevation:  5629'
Total Vertical Gain:  3949'

another map

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