So Amy's off on a week-long vacation in the Caribbean and I'm hanging with the kids. Sure, I could sit at home doing nothing and trying to maintain some semblance of sanity or I could throw the kids (and the dog) into the truck and head off for a hike.
Looking around in early Spring it was clear all the usual spots weren't going to do. There was too much snow still in the mountains and I wasn't up for a solo snowshoe with all the kids. I usually don't look west for hikes, but I'd heard good things about Squak Mountain and I see it almost daily since it towers over Issaquah to the south.
It took a little work to find the trailhead, but once we were there we made quick work of the first part of the trail. The girls were in fine form holding hands and drinking from their hydration bladders even though I tried to get them to slow down.
The route up is only two miles, but it's 1,300 feet of gain. For someone with short legs that's a decent climb. I hoped to get a mile in before we stopped for lunch, but it wasn't to be. We stopped several times for potty breaks and lots for snacks. We had our first taste of PBJs well short of a mile, but after that we were energized and pushed on.
Most of the trail was an old road and not terribly scenic. Lacking views or a cool trail we looked for flowers, deer (saw one at about 20 yards), and of course dancing hikers. Lilly stood in as our dancer and delighted us with a spectacular interpretive dance.
When we turned off the main trail onto the Central Summit trail the trail was moderately better. It was narrower, though still a trail. We found a few patches of snow and the girls insisted on standing in the middle and in some cases dancing. (Henry abstained from all the dancing.)
Just before the final climb to the summit we met a couple who told us there was another trailhead on the same road we parked on, but half a mile and 500 feet higher. Dang.
As we approached the actual summit we could see the radio towers through the trees and a cloudless sky above. The entire trail so far had been in the shade so we had missed the glory of blue that was such a welcome sight after such a long winter.
Of course, when we got to the top it was somewhat underwhelming. The radio towers and support buildings were huge and hummed disconcertingly. We sat on the edge to eat lunch. Henry was finally freed from the backpack, but only got to have a bottle and sit with the girls for a few minutes.
After allowing the girls to play in the dirt for a while we packed up and started out. One of the other hikers who showed up at the summit said the spur trail I had seen coming up was a shortcut to the Bullitt fireplace (the ruin of the Bullitt family's summer cabin) so we headed off. This was the best trail on the entire trip. It was a rough trail clearly not maintained except by boots. Parts were wet, but mostly it was dry and fairly steep. Clara said it reminded her of the trail to Scout Lake and I thought it was like the Baker Lake trail. Either way, it was good fun.
The Bullitt fireplace was neat, but just a big fireplace. Having a cabin there would have been cool, but I'd rather have something higher in the mountains. We spent a few minutes there and then headed home. The trail down seemed far longer than the trail up. Toward the end Lilly's feet were hurting and it was probably because her boots (actually Clara's old boots) were a little on the small side. Oops. For the last bit I put her on my shoulders (sitting in front of and higher up than Henry in the backpack) and took off her boots.
Back at the truck Tokul found a comfy spot in the shade and lay down. Clara sat on her backpack. Lilly sat in the back of the truck before climbing over the seat into the middle row. We'd been on trail for about six hours, which is a really long time for a four mile, 1,300 foot gain trip, but it was a great first day to a 10 day stretch without Mommy. Fingers are crossed for the next nine days.