Photos from this trip can be found here.
Daunting north of the mountain face had always made me assume this being a technical climb. As I searched for hikes with relatively short distance for New Year’s Eve with hopefully something with views at the top, I stumbled across a recent trip report, It turned out to be an excellent trip to finish off the year 2011.
Service road 6200 started off dry and free of snow until about 2,000’. Once the snow started to show up, it quickly became apparent that another vehicle was paving the way with tire tracks all the way to the trail turnoff at ~2,700’. The end of tire tracks with a truck parked just before the trail indicating a group was ahead of me. Judging from the boot tracks on the trail, it was a group of two or more hikers.
The elevation gain was aggressive right from the beginning up to point 5,100. Changed out my spikes with snowshoes at 4,200’ after I started to posthole with every step. From point 5,100, the elevation gain eased up all the way to the summit. When we got to the meadows, there were three sets of snowshoe tracks, which meant at least three hikers were in the group before me. The dogs had been missing in action a few times during our ascend, so I knew they had to have caught up with the hikers every time.
Four hikers made their way down when I got to just below the summit. They were greeted by the dogs for the last time. Just as I had anticipated, views on the summit was awesome. The intimidating Mount Index stood tall to the southeast, Mount Rainier half-submerged in clouds to the south, and to the west, the Puget Sound and the Olympics Mountains were in clear view. I had forgotten to bring my longer camera lens to capture the farther views.
After about 45 minutes we started making our descend as it was getting pretty windy.