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Si, Blowdown, Almost Dixie
posted by John : February 15, 2010

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The (tiny) natives are restless

After toughing it out on Mazama Ridge I figured I'd look for a relaxing day in the mountains. I couldn't find anyone who worked for an employer who didn't hate the Presidents so I slept in and arrived at the Mt. Si trailhead around 10.

The new trail up Mt. Si isn't known for much other than being a highway to the top so I put my head down and charged up with my headphones on. I arrived at the Haystack basin in about an hour and a half, dropped my poles, and started up the Haystack itself.

I've been up Mt. Si way too many times to have never been on the true summit. Each time I'd been up to the basin either I was with the dog or it was raining or it was dark (or usually all three). The weather was ok this time and the timing was right so I scrambled up. Sweet. Good views, a sense of accomplishment. All good. The way down was a little more heart thumping, but there were no problems. However, I don't think I'll be taking the kids up there any time soon and, in fact, I don't know that I need to go back up.

Back in the basin I grabbed my stashed gear and followed the trail into the woods. While it looks pretty nice right away it quickly devolves into an old road and then turns into a regular road. Blech. The snow made it more tolerable and blue skies and views of Rainier made it actually enjoyable. I found tracks where I had planned to turn off so I had an excuse to continue. The tracks wound up more old roads and eventually disappeared. I really don't know where the person ahead of me went. I am guessing a big bird picked them up and flew them off the mountain.

The trail I broke to the summit of Blowdown wasn't the straightest of lines, but got me there. I apologize to anyone that followed me. I even wandered in circles looking for the true highpoint before settling on a stump with a partial view. Blowdown Mountain was no impressive, but the snag was. When looking up at the summit from I-90 with the sun behind you it looks like there's a huge white post on the top. It's actually an old snag stripped of bark that reflects light like nobody's business.

My plan was to follow the ridge between Blowdown and a highpoint along the ridge toward Dixie Mountain, my ultimate destination. I was pleased to find someone has been cutting a trail. The first bit needs significantly more work, but it made it easy to walk along the ridge. When the trees get taller it's close to a real boot path and leads right to the highpoint.

Unfortunately, this was to be my destination for the day. Dixie was only another third of a mile, but it was 2:30 and I was parked in the Mt. Si parking lot... that has a gate. Do they lock that gate at dark? Do they give out tickets? I tried phoning a friend, but Josie could only tell me the DNR's site said the trailhead was open dawn to dusk and without a backup plan in case I got locked in I decided prudence would have to take precedence over a third named summit. Almost Dixie was as close as I'd get. (And that really isn't cool as there's no convenient way to get back there without climbing either Si or Teneriffe first.)

I turned for home, but dropped off the ridge at the saddle between Blowdown and Almost Dixie. The open forest was an easy walk even though it was fairly steep. Soon I found myself back on the snowy roads between Teneriffe and Si. I made good time back to Si. too good, in fact. With that speed I could have been able to tag Dixie with time to spare. Bugger.

To burn more time I turned off the new Si trail onto the old trail. Surely, I'd be able to connect lower down, right? Well, maybe not. I got to the Boulder Garden and turned, but it wasn't going to go, but maybe the unsigned trail would, right?

Well, maybe not. The trail turned into a road that turned into a network of roads that headed right into the back of the houses along the Mt. Si road. Oh, crap. That's when the dogs started barking. Maybe the owner would come out and not shoot me, right?

Actually, yes. He was very nice and let me cross his property, but suggested I plan a little better next time. Definitely. Especially since the road walk back to the trailhead was pretty lousy. (And especially since there apparently is a connector between the two trails that I missed.)

I was back at the trailhead at 4:30, well before dark. Once again reaffirming that I should have chanced it and gone for Dixie. Just like I should have chanced it and stayed another day on Mazama Ridge.

Oh well, one of these days I'll get it all figured out.

Well, maybe not.

Total distance was about 13 miles and roughly 5,500 feet of gain.

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