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New Meetup: McClellan Butte Midweek Hike/Conditioner

From: Shabnam
Sent on: Friday, July 16, 2010 12:47 PM
Announcing a new Meetup for Eastside Hikers Meetup Group!

What: McClellan Butte Midweek Hike/Conditioner

When: Wednesday, July 21,[masked]:15 PM

Where: Eastgate Park
Eastgate Park,
Bellevue, WA 98006

Hi All,
Let's do another Wednesday evening hike/conditioner. I will be bringing about 40# to weigh me down so I won't be going the fastest. I seem to remember this trail being alot longer than 9 miles but maybe I am wrong:) It will be a late night getting back after dark so be prepared with headlamps. My pace is moderate going up hill and slow going downhill. Let's meet on the westside of the Eastgate Park & Ride. If you are running late please call me otherwise we will not wait up... [masked]-6096.

Please read the trip stats and description below to determine if this hike is for you. Also I have included a recent trip report.

Trip Stats:
Roundtrip 9.0 miles
Elevation Gain 3700 ft
Highest Point 5162 ft

Driving Directions:
From Seattle drive east on I-90 to exit 42 (West Tinkham Road). Turn right from the off-ramp and continue past the Department of Transportation office. The parking lot and trailhead are just past the office driveway on the right (west) side of the road.

Trip Description:
Sometimes, you hike the steep trails to get the best possible views. Other times, you hike the steep trails just because they are steep. McClellan Butte hikers generally fall into this later category. The trail is steep and physically demanding, while the views are less spectacular than you'll find on other nearby trails. But folks flock to this wonderful trail, using it as a warm-up for more serious alpine adventures later in the year. And unlike other "training" hills (Mount Si and Granite Mountain, for instance), McClellan Butte doesn't draw hundreds of people every day in the spring and summer. You're not going to hike in solitude, of course (every trail in the I-90 corridor draws weekend boot traffic), but you might only see a few other people as you sweat your way to the summit.

Like much of the west side of the South Fork Snoqualmie Valley (the I-90 corridor), loggers got to his mountain before you. The trail leaves the parking area and ascends through dense second-growth timber for about a mile, crossing the Iron Horse Trail (rail-to-trail route) about 0.5 mile up the Alice Creek valley.

About 0.5 mile past that broad trail, the trail to McClellan pokes out onto a rough old logging road. You might find vehicles here, but don't worry. It's much better to park low and hike this far than to beat your vehicle to death on the long, roundabout rough road.

After that first warm-up mile, the trail turns steep while the forest opens up a bit, with a few majestic old-growth behemoths still gracing this mountain retreat. The trail climbs ever steeper, winding through an endless series of tight switchbacks. Finally, about 2.5 miles into your hike, the trail levels a bit and rolls east to a very steep avalanche chute. Caution: This area can be covered in snow until well into July some years. If there is snowpack on the steep slope, come back when the way is clear, since the snow can slide at any time.

Beyond that potential hazard zone, the trail gets back to the business of climbing, offering you more switchbacks to enjoy. At 4.1 miles you'll crest the mountain's southern ridge (elev. 4500 ft). Stop here (as if you had a choice after that blistering climb!) and enjoy the views. Peer down into the deep, green wilderness of the Cedar River watershed (off-limits to most humans) and across the way to Kent Mountain.

The next 0.5 mile of trail rolls down to a small tarn, then up along the ridge spine toward the summit. Grand views can be had from the ridgetop viewpoints, and anyone without well-honed rock scrambling skills should consider stopping here. The last 100 vertical feet to the top of the mountain requires use of hands and feet to move cautiously up to the 5162-foot summit.

Trip Report (July 15th):
I did this on a Mountaineers After Hours scramble. We started from the upper TH around 5pm. Takes off about a mile each way.

Really nice trail that is in great shape until after the switchbacks when the trail straightens out as it heads south. There is some lingering snow in a couple of the gullies that could be hollow in places so just watch for holes and be careful in the morning when it is slippery. More snow covers the trail a bit after you make the last turn north to the summit.

Ok, so many of you wonder about how safe the summit is. Well it is bone fry and snow free. The rock is not technical at all and there are tons of great hand and foot holds. Once you see it you think it looks bad but once you are actually on it, it really isn't! I promise! It is very fun! We hit the summit just past 7 (about 2 hrs. 15min. up)

The views are excellent. To the west, Puget Sound sparkles below the Olympics. Look north to Mt. Baker, Glacier Peak, Defiance, Bandera, Pratt, Kaleetan, Chair, Snoqualmie, Red, Hinman, Daniel, Lemah, and Chimney Rock. East to Granite, Stuart, and Silver. And of course, rising to the South is majestic Rainier, with Adams poking up to the left of it.

I am not gonna lie, the mosquitoes are pretty bad. It's an infestation. Go up on a breezy or cooler day if you do not have repellent. When you stop to take trail breaks they completely attack you. I have never had it so bad. But I manned up and it was well worth it because it is still a great hike and a fun scramble at the top with wonderful views.

We got back to the TH (upper, remember) at just before 10pm. About 5 hours round trip. But that is going at a Mountaineers evening hike pace with only one quick break going up.

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