Mount Washington by Mount Ellinor / 靠艾莉諾山的華盛頓山

Mount Washington summit poking out
Mount Washington summit poking out

See more trip photos here.

For Mount Washington in the South Fork Snoqualmie River Valley, see this post.

Surprisingly, there are only 14 high points in the US named Mount Washington. It was on the other popular Mount Washington where I spontaneously set the goal to hike once a week. Aka one hike a week. Nearly a decade later and I’m still at it. Stubbornness can be a blessing, after all.

The Lowdown on Mount Washington

Access: Mount Washington Trailhead
Round Trip: 3.2 miles
Elevation Range: 3100′-6255′
Gear: helmet
GPS track: available

Early Winter in the Mountains

We don’t get to the Olympic Peninsula often. Three trips, including Mount Washington, was probably the most we’d ever done in a year. My last trip here was Mount Olympus over the Fourth of July weekend. Before that, the pup and I went up Mount Walker in the late winter.

This weekend’s snowy mountain weather outlook had us turn to the rain shadow. Even east of the mountains couldn’t escape the high precipitation in the forecast. Because of the early snow, our list bagging pursuit might have ended after last week’s trip.

Mount Washington from the trailhead
Mount Washington from the trailhead

See more trip photos here.

The Drive to Mount Washington Trailhead

I drove to the Wagonwheel Lake Trailhead yesterday in the late morning hoping to climb Copper Mountain. But I didn’t do my research thoroughly beforehand to know that the peak was within the national park boundary. So we turned around and went to a nearby boat launch so the pup could get in a swim.

Since I didn’t prepare for us to spend the night, we drove back home. While on the road, I realized we hadn’t climbed Mount Washington. So this morning, we went back to the area again. The trip turned out to be an excellent plan to escape the rain and snow in the Cascades.

The morning picker-upper
The morning picker-upper

See more trip photos here.

Mount Washington Trail

Until last night, I didn’t realize there’s an established trail on Mount Washington. So given that it’s a relatively short trip without the need to route find, we’d finish early. The forecast had a 20% chance of snow before 11 AM. It worsened from the initially partly sunny outlook. It was cloudy when we started hiking at 8:30 AM.

This trail was one that went straight up the minute we started hiking. As I was pulling myself up using the trees, I was trying to think of a comparable climb. The old Mailbox Peak Trail had a moderate start before the real elevation gain. But I don’t remember getting up the steep slope with the help of tree roots. Maybe Snoqualmie Mountain?

Going through the meadow
Going through the meadow

See more trip photos here.

The Climb on Mount Washington

Just checked my GPS track. Holy moly. We climbed 3150′ over 1.6 miles to the summit! That explains why I couldn’t take my hands off the tree roots. I also had to help the pup to get up some steps. Several steep, narrow rock gullies had roots right in the middle, acting like stairs. It’s always fascinating to see how nature works out itself.

Eventually, the trail leveled off in the meadow at 3800′. Now I could finally make out the ridgeline as well as Mount Ellinor. It began to flurry then. A short distance later, the path went straight up again. The terrain became moderate in the upper meadow before the talus field. After heading north for a while, the pathway then turned west at 5600′.

Fingers crossed for views on top
Fingers crossed for views on top

See more trip photos here.

En Route to the Summit via the Southwest Saddle

The ramp hugged the headwall before going through the trees briefly. Just above the trees, we were once again out in the clearing. From there I saw the rest of the route up to the crest. So we continued and arrived at the saddle adorned with a nicely constructed bivy site. I finally saw the summit block from the ridge.

As we moved through the ridgeline, we met a group of Mountaineers folks. It was surprising only to see one group so far today. The route took us through the exposed east slopes and up to the crest northeast of the summit. Before traversing the ridge, I saw a solo climber in the mist as he was leaving the summit. He said he got some views; I kept my fingers crossed.

Looking west from the saddle
Looking west from the saddle

See more trip photos here.

Misty Summit with Views at Last

I didn’t expect to see anything from the summit today. So glad that it didn’t rain or snow like in the Cascades! The top was a bit breezy, but the rocks shielded us from the wind. We first hung out for 20 minutes while I read through the register entries. Then moments later, the clouds began to shift.

So for the next half hour, we enjoyed the views out to the Puget Sound. Mount Ellinor eventually made a cameo when the clouds finally lifted. I first saw Lake Cushman from Mount Rose, and it looked impressive. But this time it stole the show. A blanket of snow had capped the tall mountains to the misty north.

South-to-west panoramic view
South-to-west panoramic view

See more trip photos here.

Outro

Earlier I noticed a gully to my left below the summit block. I thought it could lead to the top, but I couldn’t quite tell in the clouds. Then as we were leaving, I realized that the path was underneath us. So we took the shortcut instead and got back onto the trail at 50′ below. It allowed us to bypass the ridge traverse.

The views continued as we dilly-dallied down the mountain. It then flurried a few more times. Back at the ramp above the talus field, we met another climbing group. Just before going back into the forest, I took a moment to savor the last bit of the Puget Sound.

Thanks for a beautiful day
Thanks for a beautiful day

See more trip photos here.

This Post Has 2 Comments

    1. Thanks. Sounds like it’s time for a revisit!

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