My wife and I regularly walk the BPA Trail in Federal Way, or even take a few power laps around the inside of The Commons Mall on a rainy winter day. We once tried to slog our way to Camp Muir, right below the glacier on Mount Rainier. We were forced to turn around when we were engulfed by a whiteout at 8,000 feet.
The challenge to gain the freedom of the hills eventually calls, however. Some nearby climbs that I recommend are Mailbox Peak, which is too arduous for all but the highly motivated, and Granite Peak, which offers some great views. But Mount Si is probably our favorite. Four miles of uphill effort climax in a landscape that is rugged with a “Haystack” on the top that invites the adventurous walker to scramble up a precipitous rock face.
The reward is a view of the surrounding countryside that is startling. Your fellow hikers will be mostly congenial, but you may want to discover the old Mount Si Trail because the main trail gets crowded during nice weather. The old Mount Si trail is not marked, nor is it maintained.
A few years ago, I hiked it in about two hours. The old trail is shorter than the other trail, but also steeper. We had the trail to ourselves much of the time. Light mist turned into cold, wet wind at the top. Make sure to have rain gear, extra clothing and appropriate shoes. Carry your ten essentials. In recent times, many hikers have added self-defense equipment to their list of things to pack.
Two-legged varmints and not grizzlies are a realistic concern on King County trails. A warning alongside the trail notifies hikers that an attacker recently assaulted a female trail worker with a stun gun on Tiger Mountain. The woman repulsed the attacker. A mother and daughter hiking on the Pinnacle Lake Trail near Granite Falls were both shot in the head four years ago on July 11, 2006.
Whoever killed the 56-year-old mother and her 27-year-old daughter are still at large. Random violence is unusual in Washington state. Nevertheless, the potential for violence lurks alongside our nation’s trails. A debate about guns has been raging within the forums of outdoor enthusiasts. Federal law now permits carrying in Mount Rainier National Park, provided that you follow Washington state law. But don’t wear your gun into a visitor center or other park buildings inside the park.
Many will choose a light 9-mm like the Walther P99 that I carried on our Mount Si adventure. Make sure your belt, holster and hardware are comfortable with your pack and other gear by taking some shorter hikes near home before you tackle Mount Si. I am still not sure how to travel comfortably in grizzly country. Stay tuned! I recently bought a .44 magnum hand cannon at the gun show in Puyallup. I’ll have my Original Dirty Harry Holster soon, but it may be more comfortable with a three-piece suit than with a backpack.