How to not hike Mount Si

“Go on without me. I’m just going to stand here and wait for you guys,” I said.

This was four years ago. I was tired and defeated.

What was supposed to be a casual hike among friends turned into a sweat-drenching endeavor for me. It was July and my friends threw a party the night before (on a weeknight!) I went to work the next morning with dark circles under my eyes and only three-four hours of sleep. For anyone who knows me (or occasionally reads this blog,) you’ll know that I need at least seven hours of sleep to function and eight hours for optimal activity.

I would have rather gone straight home and napped after work. But, I had plans to hike Mount Si with Sean and Phyllis that afternoon. I’m a woman of my word so I did not back out.

The three of us started out briskly walking and chatting. It was a clear, sunny day in North Bend.

“I guess this will be fine,” I thought to myself.

The (presumably) first hour passed and I was already spent. I ceased conversing with my friends. I let them do all the talking and I just listened since I was, well, (already) exhausted. A gap started to form between the two of them and I. There was no way I could keep up with them anymore. And … the switch-backs! They just kept going on and on and on. With each switch-back, I felt like we were going up the exact same area since it appeared identical to the previous one!

I was having a grand ‘ol time.

Finally, I stopped. I don’t remember how far ahead Phyllis and Sean were from me but I know they were always in sight and probably weren’t too far ahead, since, after all, we were all friends. They wouldn’t leave me.

So when I stopped at one of the switch-backs and explicitly told them  — probably a little too dramatically — to go to the top without me because I couldn’t take “one more step,” they encouraged me to keep going. Rather than leave my sorry-self there, they let me lead at my snail’s pace.

We eventually made it out of the forest-y area and to the top. It was a pretty view. The sun was bright. The skies were blue. There’s a photo of me squinting. The back of my shirt was drenched in sweat.

Mount Si, July 2010 [photo cred: Sean Arr]

Mount Si, July 2010 [photo cred: Sean Arr]

I remember nothing of the downhill. I was too beat.

(IMO) Mount Si is a popular hike due to its proximity to Seattle and that it’s a well-kept trail. It’s not too strenuous but can be a challenge for those who may not be in the best of shape or aren’t avid hikers.

For me, it will always be the “hardest hike” I have ever done. Yes, even more difficult than Mailbox Peak! (For comparison, Mount Si is eight miles roundtrip with an elevation gain of 3,150 feet with the highest point at 3,900 feet. Mailbox Peak is 5.4 miles roundtrip but with an elevation gain of 4,000 feet with the highest point at 4,822 feet. For many, Mailbox Peak is a very challenging hike.)

Despite “all the fun” I had at Mount Si, I did it again.

I gave the hike a second chance last week. I’m training for a marathon so I knew I’m in good (enough) shape. I had a decent amount of sleep the night before. There were no parties I was recovering from. This time, the hike would be a breeze, a walk in the park, a piece of cake …

Not quite.

“Kristin’s Mount Si redemption hike,” turned into “the time Kristin discovered she does not enjoy night-time hiking.”

Bryce and I arrived at the trailhead around 7 p.m. Friday and I should have known that we would be hiking in mostly darkness. A lot of the trail is surrounded by tall trees so even before the sun had set, we were enclosed in shady areas. We came across four groups making their way down the trail as we were still beginning the hike.

We did pack our headlamps, of course.

But, for most of the uphill we just used our trusty “night-time vision” to lead the way. Bryce had no problem. Me? I think I just have bad vision all around — I am legally blind without corrected lenses.

I was tired. I couldn’t see. And, for some reason, I started getting scared of the dark.

I turned my headlamp on with maybe about a mile left to the top.

At one of the switch-backs, I told Bryce that “this is the spot where I nearly gave up on this hike four years ago!” We continued in the dark. When we came to another switch-back, I echoed my statement from before: “Wait, this is the spot where I nearly gave up on this hike four years ago!”

It was dark so it was hard to tell. Like I said before, everything starts to look the same on this hike. Plus, I was trying to recount an event that occurred four years ago so there’s also the “memory’s a bit hazy” bit.

When we arrived at the top, it was unfortunately cloudy so we couldn’t see any stars. Lights of North Bend and Issaquah flickered below. Beyond further were Seattle and Bellevue but we couldn’t really see them too well. There was a stronger wind up high so I put my jacket on. I wasn’t in the best of moods. I was kind of grumpy.

This is what I captured at the top in my sad, cold state.

This is what I captured at the top in my sad, cold state.

As we made our way down the trail, I proclaimed, “In four years, I’ll do this hike right.”

When we returned to our car at nearly 11 p.m., I was relieved. My feet were sore but everything else felt fine. (I had run 13 miles that morning before work.) It was just my attitude that took a beating. I felt “on edge” the entire time because of the dark. I never knew I could be such a scaredy-cat. The dark hasn’t scared me before! Thus, I didn’t enjoy most of the hike and was not very enjoyable company.

The one positive is that we had Mount Si all to ourselves!

After these two very different and “difficult” hikes, I have learned the following for next time:

1. Get at least eight hours of sleep and do not party the night before the hike.

2. Start early so you end early and do not run into dark night-time hours.


Mount Si, I’m not giving up on you. See you in four years.


2 thoughts on “How to not hike Mount Si

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