Mt. Teneriffe (partial)
3300 feet elevation gain
Mt. Teneriffe has been on my bucket list for a while but somehow Iâ€™ve never gotten around to hiking it. Located in the North Bend area, itâ€™s situated right next to Mt. Si but attracts only a fraction of the crowds. The trailhead boasts a lovely new parking lot and was only half full when I arrived on Sunday morning at 8:30 am.
Most of the trail is a conversion of an old logging road, but the first half mile is a newer addition that connects to the new trailhead. I was immediately plunged into the hush of a mossy forest as I began my ascent. I said a friendly hello to a few other hikers but otherwise I had the trail to myself.
The elevation leveled out once I reached the old logging road and I made good time as I rambled through moss-covered trees. Rain threatened and I could see the top of the mountain was shrouded in clouds. There would be no view today.
After crossing several bridges and a turnoff for the Teneriffe Falls trail, the trail began to really climb. I was surprised at the grade of the trail for an old logging road.
After pausing at a nice viewpoint of the valley below, I soldiered on. It was to be my only view of the day, as I soon entered a cloud and mist shrouded the trail.
Snow began appearing on the trail in patches around 3500 feet. By the time I passed the turnoff for the Mt. Si connector trail, the snow was over a foot deep in places. I considered hiking over to Mt Si and then looping back downto Teneriffe via the Talus Loop Trail so I could keep my hike at a lower elevation, but I elected to keep going. I was curious to see where the Mt. Teneriffe trail led. Iâ€™d save that adventure for another day.
I continued on for another mile and a half, slipping and sliding on the wet snow. I took care to follow the packed down snow in the middle of the trail, as any step off the trail resulted in post-holing up to my knees or higher. I considered putting on my microspikes but I didnâ€™t think theyâ€™d be that helpful in these conditions.
The trail crossed a few streams and I carefully clambered over 3-foot snowbanks on either side to reach the water. At this point I was relying heavily on my hiking poles to keep me upright.
I eventually decided to turn around at the junction of the logging road with a connector trail towards the summit. I had less than a mile to go but I was feeling tired. I was also a little nervous about continuing on such a slippery trail by myself. I had already fallen down multiple times and it felt risky to continue hiking solo.
As I began my descent, I passed two trail runners who bounded past me towards the summit. They both wore shorts and t-shirts and neither carried backpacks or hiking poles. I marveled at their ability to run on three feet of slush without falling on their faces. I was also concerned that neither carried a backpack or any extra clothes -they seemed to be one misstep away from a very dangerous situation.
At the first patch of bare ground, I stopped for a lunch break and rested. Thus fortified, I continued my descent, my pace slowed to a crawl as the snow became slushier due to the warmer temperatures. I breathed a sigh of relief when the snow subsided and my hike continued along solid ground.
As I continued down the mountain, I noticed a set of tire marks on the trail that definitely werenâ€™t there on my way up. I wondered what that was about as vehicles were definitely not allowed on this trail. A few minutes later four ATVâ€™s raced by me, each loaded up with passengers in hard hats and gear. Another group of hikers with hard hats and walkie talkies jogged by me shortly afterwards . Hm. Something was definitely up.
When I reached the trailhead, the parking lot was filled with search and rescue vehicles. Official-looking people milled about, talking on cell phones and walkie talkies. One of them confirmed that they were responding to an emergency involving an injured hiker.
While a somewhat sobering end to the day, I was nonetheless impressed at the response by the search and rescue personnel. There were at least 50 highly trained people (maybe more) involved in this rescue effort. I’m a careful hiker and don’t take needless risks, but you never know when something might go wrong in the back country. It’s a reassuring feeling knowing that these guys have my back in case something goes wrong on a future hiking endeavor.