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(Last Updated On: January 14, 2021)

Mount Pilchuck is talked about by many. When I first moved to Washington and asked for hiking recommendations, Pilchuck was mentioned again, and again. I would continue to see pictures on social media of picnics or overnights in the fire lookout shelter, built in 1921. The hype continued to grow for me as I had to wait for warmer weather to complete this hike rated “difficult” with over 2000 feet of elevation gain. Today was more than crossing another hike off the list. Today was a milestone.

I remember when I first moved to Washington and had no hiking gal pals to learn from. I decided to venture out and complete Mount Si (Rated difficult) by myself. I had been hiking consistently in Colorado, Utah, and California prior to this hike, but something about Si had me struggling so hard. I avoided stairs for a solid 3 days after that hike.

Recently, I have made it a mission to get outside every weekend, and amazingly, I have stuck to that. It is now coming up on a year of living in Washington and I truly feel that I’m making the most of every day in this beautiful state.

I reached the trailhead of Mount Pilchuck a little later than anticipated and a little more dehydrated than I should have been, due to last night’s activities. My hiking gal pal and I joked about being out of breath in the first 10 feet, but continued to hold a conversation for 30 minutes as we completed countless switchbacks. I had every intention of keeping track of the switchbacks during this hike, but immediately lost count after two. We became immersed in sunlight and sweat (strangely mostly neck sweat) at the halfway point as Mount Baker showed off her snowy peak.  We paused briefly to take it all in and continued. We found a shady spot and drank some water as we waited for returning hikers to climb down, envious of their ambition.

It didn’t feel like very much time went by before we turned the corner and saw the lookout looming ahead. Per usual, I had to overcome the fear-of-heights-paralysis as I climbed the ladder to the lookout.  We hung out, ate a sandwich, and took a few photos before beginning our descent. It was during the descent where my epiphany occurred.

I fell into a rhythm, where my body takes over and knows which rocks to step on, the angle, and what part of my foot. It is liberating when I feel that my brain and body are in sync with my surroundings. This is not to say that I do not almost face plant at least 10% of the time when I hike. Fifteen to twenty minutes into our descent, we stepped aside for a man climbing up that we talked to at the trailhead. “Wait. You girls already went to the top?!” We then passed two others that we started at the trailhead with. My hiking partner and I began trying to figure out how long the summit took us, and came to the realization that we crushed this hike without realizing.

I couldn’t help but smile at the realization that I may have finally achieved the status of a seasoned hiker in Washington. Each hike gives me an opportunity to learn and connect with my environment. I am excited to see how Washington continues to challenge me and what skills I will learn in the future.

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1 Comment

  1. Paul Miller on August 30, 2017 at 12:11 pm

    I snapped a picture in a little shop up in Tawas, MI that had the saying:

    “If you don’t climb the mountain, you can’t see the view.”

    This holds true to obstacles in our lives as well doesn’t it? Well done, Melissa!

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