The Mis-Adventures of Mount Pilchuck

Peak Summited2020 Mount Pilchuck
Type of HikeDay hike
Road ConditionsRoad recommended for high clearance only
Bug StatusNo bugs
Snow ConditionsTrail snow-covered at times - Gear and expertise recommended
Trail ConditionsTrail difficult/impossible to navigate

The road up is very bad, high-clearance vehicle highly recommend (although I did see a Prius near the trailhead when I returned). There is a lot of snow right before the Mt. Pilchuck parking lot so you need to park about 1/4 mile down the road and hike up to the trailhead.

The hike itself is still covered in snow, extra traction also highly recommended. I had YakTrax's and poles which all came in very handy, micro-spikes would have been better. You can lose the trail very easily if you are not paying attention and it gets pretty steep and slippery at times. I cannot stress this enough. On the way down we didn't have ice axes so we couldn't glissade down, but we were still able to “run” down the hills pretty fast, and at one point I slipped and ended up sliding down on my butt/back and good distance. Luckily I wasn't ever at risk of going over any cliffs, but there were a couple of small trees I was fortunate enough to just miss.

In addition to that, we also ended up overshooting the trail and ended up having to bush-wack our way through the snow and woods back to the trail again. Fortunately we were prepared and had a compass and map, and were able to find our way back to the trail. If not for that, the trip could have ended very badly, as sense of direction and gut made me guess to go the opposite direction then what the map showed. Every time we would stop to check direction the map proved my guess was wrong each time. There may be something to be said for gut instinct, but never let it override the map.

The blue skies from the weekend were gone, but the climb up was at least dry and calm, if a bit grey. But upon our final approach to the lookout, we noticed some really ugly clouds coming in from the west. We were able to get up to the lookout and into it just in time for the weather to hit. While the winds and rain came, we waited it out in the lookout eating lunch. The rain storm only lasted about 15-minutes, and then we were able to start the decent down.

Despite all that, it was still a great day on the mountain. On our way down we passed a father/son on their way up, other than that we saw no other people, had the mountain to ourselves. Very glad we passed on going up on the weeekend and going mid-week, even if we missed out on the sunny weather.


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