Sunday, July 18, 2010

Return to Mount Si

Yesterday was Ian's birthday, now 11 years old. As per our family tradition, the Birthday Boy (or girl) gets to pick the day's activity. Ian chose to hike to the top of Mount Si, something he's never done. The wife and I, about 20 years ago, have hiked to the top. From what I remember, it was pretty steep, but not all that hard. I was in for a painful revisit.

Mount Si is located near North Bend, Washington - not all that far of a drive for us. When we moved here in 1989, North Bend was a quiet little town outside of Seattle, on the foothills of the Cascades. It became mildly famous being featured in the early '90s TV show Twin Peaks. Since the '90s, its grown quite a bit with expensive housing developments hidden in the trees, factory outlet stores, strip malls, and fast food places off Interstate 90. Nintendo also has a large facility nearby. Progress? I don't know, you be the judge on that.

Luckily, just a few blocks away from all the new development, sits the old North Bend. The small downtown looks basically the same as before, which is a cool thing. Mount Si looms above the town, maybe cringing at the factory outlet stores and gas stations.

Since we're still living with the one car experiment, the female half of the Dan O clan, elected to drop us off at the trail, then head over to the, uh, factory outlet stores for a few hours - while Ian and I went for a little walk. This little walk climbs 3700+ feet in 4 miles. Yeah, it's steep and relentless, offering no flat sections at all. Even so, this trail is one of the most popular in the area, due to the proximity to Seattle and amazing views at the top. After the official parking lot cell phone check, safety warnings, and sundial calibrations - we set off.

The trail was a bit steeper then I remembered, but not as crowded. Ian and I trudged towards the top. The first two miles were not bad, the last two had us wishing for the summit. The entire climb is in the woods with no real views, then you pop out at the top - pretty amazing.....

Not bad, huh?

3700 feet down to the bottom. Hang glider anyone?

I-90 lopes towards the Cascades.

Hey, I can see the Factory Outlets from here.....

Where's my bike?

After spending some time at the top, eating sandwiches and poking around, including finding one Geocache - time to head down. I was hoping for the possibility of a helicopter shuttle service, but that was not to be. Going down was tougher then climbing up. You're constantly fighting gravity and hopping over rocks and roots. You'd think bike commuting 150 miles a week would make this a breeze - think not. My legs were screaming toast halfway down. Of course Ian felt fine, running and jumping over stuff, leaving me in the dust.

The last mile was torture. When it comes down to it, compared against mountain biking, hiking is slow motion torture. My brain is so wired to riding, as I'm walking the trail - I'm picking lines that I would take on my bike - which roots to hit straight on, rocks to hop over, where to brake and nose wheelie turn for switchbacks. None of that applies at the moment, just plod on, one step at a time. Super hiker I am not. I was impressed by people running the trail - up and down. Yikes.

Still, all in all, a fun day - certainly one Ian should remember. The female crew met us in the parking lot and we headed for home, with a stop for pizza included. Afterwards, a late night birthday apple pie for all. We all hit the sack exhausted. 8+ mile hikes and factory outlet stores will do that to you.

I woke up today feeling like I went a few rounds in a UFC fight. My legs feel like they've been tenderized with a ball peen hammer. Completely ridiculous. I am a one trick pony, since all I do is ride - nothing else. I should fit in some kind of cross training to balance things out.

Either that, or just make sure anytime I hit the woods, I'm on my bike....


  1. So neat, Ian's choice. You got a true outdoor adverturer there.
    I know what you mean about picking a line, and hiking. I don't hike much at all, but I look for "my path" on a bike. Or if I am in a car on a gravel road, I soon begin to daydream about riding bike there.

  2. Crazy enough, my legs are still a little sore today from that hike. Insane. My calf muscles are toast.

    I do the same wherever I go - notice trails and other spots that might be interesting to ride. I also have memories of trails I've ridden 20+ years ago back in New Jersey.

    Wacky, huh?

  3. Some great photos, makes me want to go hiking, looks like a great time!!!

  4. Dan, Mom wants to hike the trail asap while I
    wait at the local pub sipping a cool one.Ian
    will never keep up with her.

  5. If anyone wants to hike Mount Si with us - just let us know when. We'll try to be out of town that weekend....

    Or at least hiding somewhere on our bikes.