This one had been on my list for a while. The Olympics are far if you live in Seattle. You have to decide if you want to wait in ferry traffic or all the traffic you encounter from Tacoma to Seattle. Both are about 3.5 hours travel time. This trip I decided to try the ferry. It’s about $36 roundtrip, but it’s worth the chance to stretch out your legs and take in the puget sound. And coffee. Don’t forget to take in the coffee.
There are 4 ways up the mountain all offering a different trek. I specifically chose the route less traveled, pretty much not traveled, up Dirtyface ridge. There’s a reason you’ll find solitude. A sign warns you before you start it’s a 35-40 % grade for the first two miles.
Park past the Tubal Cain Mine Ttailhead alongside the road. It’s literally right after it and easy to miss. I missed. Here is what you’re looking for: a sign that blends right into the landscape
Also bring poles. It’s dry with lots of loose rock. Probably another reason less people hike this. Going downhill was harder than going up. I fell 3 times, but somehow have more than 3 new bruises.
The first 2 miles are in the forest, before you pop up onto the ridge. It’s a pretty unremarkable forest, but you’re not there for the forest. Like I said, you’ll be alone. This is why I do ridge hikes like this. It feels like you’re dancing on top of all the mountains. Your views are whatever shapes the sky gives you and uneven mounds of earth. No sounds of humanity other than your breathe.
From here you take switchbacks up the backdoor ridgeline to the top. There is a high point you come upon, not the mountain’s highest, but it’s the quieter lunch stop. Only one other trail takes you to that spot, slightly easier than the dirtyface ridge hike. The true summit is the one with all the people. I was told that the main trail doesn’t have the views until you crest the final ridge. So, choose the trail that makes the extra effort worth it.