Hey Seattle hikers!
Do you see what I see?!? That's right: SUNSHINE in the forecast! After the torrential rain that we have had lately, I can only imagine that many of you are yearning to scratch that itch to get out into the backcountry this weekend. One word of caution: the Northwest Avalanche Center has stopped their daily forecasts for the season, but word in the hills is that conditions are NOT GREAT right now. This happens in Seattle every year: we get pounded with rain, and then on the first day of sunshine, EVERYBODY wants to head deep into the hills.
I feel you. It sucks being "stuck" in the lowlands when the mountains are calling. But the mountains aren't going anywhere, and they will STILL be calling in a few weeks, once the snowpack is more stable. I've read a few firsthand reports of MASSIVE slides taking place in the mountains (specifically, one at Alpental that ran all the way to one of the parking lots). With rain and warming temperatures, there is the chance for catastrophic avalanches that can easily reach the valley floor.
This week, I want to focus my personal recommendations on areas that are relatively free from avalanche danger. However, remember to use caution and good judgement at all times. The NWAC offers a free online course where you can learn more about "red flags" to watch for when you are in the mountains.
Anastasia's Hike Picks
1. Twanoh State Park on the Hood Canal is a gem of a park with a stunningly beautiful 1.5-mile trail that gains about 300 feet of elevation. Spend a rainy day walking along the shore of the Hood Canal, shuck some oysters (check wdfw.wa.gov for seasons and limits and be sure to have your license), and plan to use one of the historic CCC kitchen shelters for a post-hike picnic.
2. If you are up for a little bit longer drive, and don't mind heading over Snoqualmie Pass, it's worth a drive to visit some trails in Eastern Washington. Two of my favorites are Manastash Ridge (near Ellensburg, WA) and Ancient Lakes (near George, WA). Bonus: It's going to be 70 in Eastern WA! Make it a weekend getaway by tossing in a stay at Cave B Inn in George, WA for some "glamping" in one of their yurts. I promise I won't tell if you eat a five-course meal at the restaurant instead of a freeze-dried backpacking dinner.
3. Hex Mountain: This is primarily a ridge hike in the Teanaway Range, just through the town of Roslyn. Once you reach the summer trailhead, you will climb up a lightly forested ridge before meandering into some thicker tree bands just before reaching the summit of Hex. You will likely need snowshoes for this hike, and just use caution walking along the ridge, as there might be a few spots that are prone to small wind-blown cornices. The last 50 feet to the summit is steep, but the WOW-factor is worth it once you reach the summit.