Mt. Washington (I-90)
April 12, 1997

The weather forecast for April 12th looked good, and the grandparents were in town, so, with an offer of free baby sitting, I decided it was time for Maren to get out on her first climb since Bryden was born. Bill Sunderland was climbing with us, and we wanted to choose something we hadn't climbed, but something that wouldn't be too tough on Maren (like we had to worry!) - we decided on Mt. Washington. 4400 feet with a 3200 foot elevation gain, and all the clear cuts would still be covered in plenty of snow - just the ticket!

We didn't even bother with an early start, arriving at the trail head just off I-90 at Exit 38 at 9:15. By 9:30 we were on the short section of trail that takes you up to the Iron Horse trail; from there it's just a few more yards until you're on the old railroad grade. Walking west, watch the left side of the railroad grade for the first obvious trail. It's not signed, but it's pretty hard to miss.

The first section of trail had been recently traveled by a piece of heavy machinery, and the trail, though wide, is in pretty rough shape. Apparently there was a debris jam at one of the creek crossings, and the forest service decided not to clear it by hand. Soon, however, the trail turns back into trail, and heads upwards at a noticeable grade. We noticed at several points along the trail what looked like attempts at trail maintenance, but the results were more like tree vandalism. Many small firs and alders had been cut and left across the trail, with some still having stumps as tall as three feet. I'm not sure if the folks who did this were trying to help, or being malicious, but the results are pretty sad.

Anyway, we eventually came to the crossing of Washington Creek. Here, the trail turns back towards the east, away from Mt. Washington, winds all the way around the east and south sides of the Mt. Washington's eastern unnamed neighbor, then finally approaches Mt. Washington again. One of the reasons to do this climb in the spring is to dispense with all that nonsense - after crossing the Creek, we headed straight up the slopes of Mt. Washington, towards "Camel" rocks (at least that's what they looked like to us). The snow wasn't bad, and there were a few sections of easy scrambling on rock mixed in to add enjoyment to the route. Once we were up near Camel Rock, we walked along a sub-ridge a short way, then headed east along an old road grade. Where the slope looked inviting, we headed straight up towards the summit. By this time the sun had warmed the snow, and we found that the snow was at least hip deep, several times! Mostly, though, the snow was in good shape, and an hour or so of pleasant step kicking, and a little tree branch bashing, brought us up to the summit.

The views from the summit are fine, with Mt. Si, North Bend and the Snoqualmie River valley stretching west, Chester Morse Lake under Mt. Rainier to the south, McClellan's Butte east, and Mailbox Peak and Banderra Mountain north. We sat and had a pleasant lunch while Bill dreamed of ways to cause the wind vane on the small weather tower there to register a surprise gust of 100 mph, but, failing the creativity necessary to create our own weather anomaly, we decided it was time to descend back to the cars, plunging down the slopes (sometimes deeply!), back to the headwaters of Washington Creek, and soon trail back to the parking lot.


Last updated: April 4, 2001