The morning started early, and not very promising as I drove to catch the 5:30 ferry in a heavy rain. The rest of my climbing buddies met me in line, and agreed to at least take the ferry over to Bremerton - they figured there must be a nice spot to grab breakfast there, then head for home, since rain like this was certainly not going to stop, nor did anyone want to climb Mt. Washington in a downpour! Once we arrived in Bremerton, however, the weather actually looked like it might be passable. The further east we drove the better things got, until we entered a patch of blue skies and sunshine as we drove up the forest service road into the mountains! There was still heavy snow on the road past the Mt. Ellinor trailhead, so we parked the cars here, and walked the last 2 miles to the start of our route up Mt. Washington (route 1A in the guide book). We found a promising looking area of the forest to plunge into, and started heading up. After bearing a bit too far towards Mt. Ellinor, we corrected our direction of travel and worked our way through forest back towards the ridge leading to Mt. Washington.
As we got higher, and the trees less dense, we could start checking out the slopes around us. There had been a significant amount of snowfall the last several days, and this morning the sun was shining strongly on our little patch of the world. (We could see the weather wasn't being as kind to the rest of the Puget Sound area - dark black rain clouds seemed to be pelting everywhere around us - we were in the eye of the storm, as it were.) Not surprisingly, we started to see sloughs going off around us, first smaller, then impressively large. These were all spontaneous avalanches, we weren't triggering any of them. We were able to stay on a relatively safe path up the back of a ridge to around 5000'. There we had a quick pow wow and decided today was not the day to head up steep open slopes to the ridge that would have lead us to the summit. Instead, we hung out on top of a small local summit, safe from the avalanches going off around us, and enjoyed the spectacular views all around - Mt. Ellinor and Mt. Washington, Hood Canal and Puget Sound, huge storm clouds away from us, and blue skies overhead.
Mt. Ellinor (center background) from our safe perch on Mt. Washington
A "small" slough avalanche
Since we didn't summit, we had plenty of time on the way down for snow ball ambushes and leisurely sight seeing. Once back at the road, we headed a few hundred yards further from the cars to find a beautiful little waterfall tucked into a small rift next to the road. there was some talk of a quick dip in the pool under the falls, but the chunks of unmelted snow and ice floating in the water tended to be rather dissuasive. We headed back to the cars, arriving just before our good weather window collapsed, and the rain arrived. A quick stop for an early dinner in Hoodsport, then back across Puget Sound on the ferry, with a promise to try this beautiful peak again when the snow conditions were a bit more stable.