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Mt Si

Last weekend, we climbed Mt Si. Mt Si is 4000 feet tall, which is not that high as mountains go, but the climb is 4 miles of steep switchbacks to the top, so it is a bit of a workout. I last climbed Mt Si just after I moved to Washington in the early 1990's. As you may know, I am not aging. Children grow up, time passes, etc., but I am not any older (dammit) and the early 90's were just the other day. Some people who are fussy about calendars and math might say that it has actually been over 15 years since I climbed Mt Si, but that is really just a rounding error when compared to the age of the mountain. Besides, if it has been a while, then perhaps erosion from all of this rain that we have should have worked in my favor and reduced the height of the mountain, right?

We started our adventure with the directions. Not the directions up and down the mountain because there is really only one trail, and that is pretty straight forward. I mean the directions to the parking area at the base of the trail. Like all good things in Seattle, you can't find proper directions. Even the GPS and Google Maps are stumped. The official Web site shows a map zoomed out to geosynchronous orbit with a big red star on the town of North Bend. Perfect. One can see Mt Si from anywhere in North Bend, but the road to the parking lot is not in the city. The official, written directions are hardly better. In a classic Seattle misdirect, the written directions get you onto the correct road - and then tell you to turn right onto a dead end 2 miles away from the parking lot which is on the left. Nice. Mt Si is heavily used, but I think that everyone who climbs it has to be guided there initially by someone else. Fortunately, I noticed that the road dead ended in a river (a nice touch) and that there was no 4000 foot tall mountain hiding behind a shrubbery, so we avoided that pit fall. We eventually found the parking lot at the base of the mountain.

One of the Web sites that describes the trail says that there are "state of the art pit toilets" by the parking lot. Isn't that an oxymoron? I am not sure that I have seen "state of the art" and "pit toilet" in the same sentence before. We thought that we would make use of these modern conveniences before making our climb. I opened the door to the men's room and immediately slammed it shut. If "state of the art" means "the smell will burn your eyes and make you run for the bushes while trying not to hurl" then the description was spot on. They made the Cub Scout camp pit toilets seem spring fresh.

We gave up on the state of the art facilities and headed for the trail. The trail features lots of loose, sharp rocks, perilous drop-offs, and steep grades. Well it is a mountain, after all, so that is to be expected. The real problem are the other hikers. Because this is a mountain that is sitting in a suburb, there are people who climb it regularly just for exercise. The worst are the joggers. They run up the mountain. Is that really necessary? Here I am, a flabby, asthmatic, computer nerd who is dragging his sorry butt up this mountain and some jackass just runs by as though we are using different gravity. Right up there in annoyance are the young people who look like they just walked out of an Abercrombie advertisement. If they could at least do me the courtesy to sweat instead of looking like they are just out for a stroll through the mall. Throw me a bone here. Sheesh.

Anyway, we made it to the top and enjoyed a nice lunch with a spectacular view. We lucked out with a fine, cool autumn day with excellent visibility so we could see for miles in every direction. Then came the walk down. I think that the gravity must be stronger in the afternoon, but we made it. I was amazed at how well Alex did. It is Thursday now and I am fairly able to walk again. Alex acts like nothing happened, of course.

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