September 14-16, 2012
We went camping at the foot of Mt Pilchuck (Verlot campground - wouldn't camp there again) to get an early morning start up Mt. Pilchuck. It was awesome! Lovely September weather, in the 70's and sunny. We started off a little cranky, and Silas walked the first hour up, but once he was in the pack we seemed to settle down and the kids were happier. It's a 5.5 mile hike and over 2200 ft elevation gain, so was a big up for Maeve who was tired by the scree fields at the end. We did a walk 11 minutes, rest 2 minutes rhythm for about the last 40 minutes. The views were amazing, and we kept hoping the haze would burn off, but it turns out it was from the fires in Eastern Washinton. The views were still great, although we couldn't see Seattle or Mt. Ranier. The last few feet to the top was a scramble over boulders, Maeve's first, and she did great. It's not very exposed, which helped. There were a ton of people on the trail, and as the photo of Maeve coming down the ladder from the lookout shows, there was a bit of a wait to go up or come down. Silas really wanted to do the scramble, and got to "scramble" all but about 45 minutes of the way down. Just a lovely hike.
The last two photos are of a walk a little farther out the mountain loop highway to the Big Four ice caves. After deciding the day before that Silas was too big for the backpack, we did a 2.25 mile, 200 ft gain hike to see the ice caves. Big 4 mountain was neat, not sure why it's 4 instead of 5, but there's probably some history there. The trail was super-well maintained with lots of boardwalks and bridges, which the kids liked, and the caves were cool, really really cool, so much so that Silas and I went back up to the trail for a while to eat a snack and warm up. You can't actually go in the caves because they're dangerous, but we walked all around the outside. The air temperature changed a lot depending on whether or not you were getting the air coming out the caves.
Camping was much better - no problems with the 4 of us in one tent, everybody slept, and the kids are now big enough to safely explore the camp ground, like the woods around our site or walking to the bathrooms on their own. Yay!