I spent this morning climbing up Mt. Pilchuck with a buddy of mine. It's a 6 mile round trip climb with an elevation gain of about 2200 feet. We thought this would be a quick hike but we ran into a lot of snow that really slowed us down.
To get to Mt. Pilchuck you follow you the Mountain Loop Highway east from Granite Falls and the turnoff is just past Verlot.
We got started on the trail around 7:45 AM. It was a little later than we would have liked but we stopped to help someone who was having car trouble on the way. We were the only people on the trail for a long time and were the first to the top.
The picture to the left is Mt. Baker from the top of Mt. Pilchuck.
The trailhead is at 3100 feet and climbing up to 4000 feet was no issue. It's pretty standard western Washington hiking fare. You do get early opportunities for views and this trend continues throughout the entire hike.
We hit the first patches of snow at about 4000 feet and pretty soon it became a constant. We spent a considerable amount of time in the open bowl searching for the correct trail (and evaluating our options for safety). There were multiple sets of tracks from prior days going in different directions and it wasn't too obvious which was correct. Also, we had to exercise caution because the snow is melting out fast and there are multiple opportunities to break through the snow or otherwise fall down the hill. There were some spots where we could hear the water running under the snow. All told it took us almost 3 hours to get to the old fire lookout on top.
At the summit is an old fire lookout. It has been there in various incarnations since the 20's. Inside a good bit of history of the lookout is posted with old photos. There are also diagrams of the peaks that can be seen in each direction. We had great views to the north and the east. We could see Mt. Baker, Three Fingers, and Glacier Peak. For a few minutes the clouds to the south went away and we could see Mt. Rainier as well. It's simply a fantastic view and I (and everyone else) need to give a big thanks to the Everett Mountaineers for maintaining the building.
All in all it was a fantastic day. On the way down there were multiple opportunities for glissading. However, I must give a word of warning to some. As we descended we saw many people heading up without the 10 essentials for hiking. We saw some people wearing jeans, tennis shoes, soccer shorts, etc. We saw people with literally no water and no supplies! This is simply asking for trouble. Please make yourself acquainted with the minimum gear. To give you an idea, today I wore good hiking boots, hiking pants, gaiters, poly shirts, hat, and sunglasses. I also used hiking poles all the way to the top. In my back I had two changes to clothes, food, water, bug spray, sunscreen, two days worth of food, a compass, map, knife, rain paints, rain jacket, multiple types of fire starters, water filter, camp stove, fuel, etc, etc. I'm not saying that you need all of this stuff, but wearing tennis shoes up a snow slope is just asking for trouble. Wearing anything cotton is as well (especially if you get wet). Use good judgement, stay safe, and have fun!