8 Miles Roundtrip
3150 Feet Elevation Gain
Mt. Si is a popular hike located 45 minutes from Seattle in the North Bend Area. With a 3150-foot elevation gain in four miles, it’s a great workout and a training opportunity for those who are preparing for more rigorous adventures. Its proximity to Seattle and relatively low elevation at 3900 feet mean that it’s a popular hike most of the year-round.
My first experience hiking Mt. Si was as a college student at Seattle Pacific University. My English professor, Dr. Reinsma, regularly led hiking trips with students up the mountain. On one such occasion, I remember arriving at the top of the mountain woefully unprepared for the weather at the summit. My teeth chattered as a frozen fog enveloped our hiking group. Dr. Reinsma pulled warm clothes and a thermos of hot cocoa out of his voluminous backpack and handed them around. I’ve never been so grateful for a warm shirt! It was the first time I really understood the importance of packing extra layers.
Earlier this summer, I hiked Mt. Si with a 20-lb backpack as I was training for my Wonderland Trail adventure. It took me about 7 hours to complete the whole trail. At the time, I was pleased to have simply completed the hike. It was actually a big accomplishment for me, considering the long and painful recovery from my hip surgery the previous autumn. I have progressed a long ways since then.
For today’s hike, I had a new goal. The Basic Alpine Climbing course offered by The Mountaineers requires students to be able to hike to the top of Mt Si in no more than two hours while carrying 15% of their body weight as a class prerequisite. I’m not planning to take this class, but it is a benchmark that some local hikers use to gauge their hiking prowess. So, I decided to see if I could make it to the top of Mt. Si in two hours. I was only carrying a 5-lb daypack, but I figured it would still make for an interesting experiment.
It was the perfect weather on Saturday – chilly but dry. Snow was forecast for later in the week but there were only a few inches accumulated at the top. I started the clock on my hiking app and set a good pace up the mountain. After an hour, I made it to a clearing with a little intrepretive trail and some benches. This marked the halfway point on the trail, which meant I was on track to make my goal if I kept the same pace. Whew! So I kept powering on. The trail zig-zagged up the hill following a series of switchbacks.
Near the top, I saw the first hints of snow accumulated on the ground. I only had 12 minutes left until the two hour mark, so I kept going even though my lungs were screaming for a break. The trail got steeper as it neared the summit. I scrambled over some boulders and dodged other hikers as I made a beeline to the top.
And I did it! I made it to the top of Mt. Si in *exactly* 2 hours! Yay!!
After spending a few moments savoring my accomplishment, I headed back down the hill before I got chilly. I made it down the mountain in about the same amount of time that it took me to hike to the top. Going downhill is hard on my joints. Oh the joys of getting older.