I spend most Sunday mornings crawling out of bed at 5am. By sacrificing sleep and a comfy morning in bed I get the privilege of being first on the trail and seeing what few others do.
Some people think I'm crazy to get up so early and some think I'm crazy hiking the same trail twice. They're definitely right on the first count, but dead wrong on the latter.
Becoming familiar with a trail allows me to disconnect from the logistics of hiking and focus on other aspects of the experience. I don't need to worry about whether I'm on the right trail or if I need to worry about water further on.
Instead, I can look around and see what I missed the last time or the last 10 times. I'm always amazed at what I don't see and gratified it somehow came to the forefront on the latest trip.
On Granite Mountain I was treated to a cloud-filled valley below me and Mount Rainier rising against a blue sky. I had a chance to see the way Treen slinks along the trail like a snake with fur and legs. The bunchberry were blooming and I took the opportunity to get up close and really personal.
Every other June ascent has had at least some snow, but this time it was completely melted out. The greens of the trees burned my eyes like looking at the sun itself.
Granite remains one of my favorite local hikes if only for the big meadow above the trees and the memories of great trips in the past.
I'm sure others climb it once to check it off their lists and move on to other destinations. I like new hikes, too, but they're missing out. Next time you plan to pass on a hike because you've done it before take a moment and consider what you might see if you went again. You'll be surprised.