Monday morning I joined a Seattle based Mountaineers group for a scramble on Granite Mountain. Granite is a year-round scramble (although taken with extreme caution in the winter as avalanches are common and deadly), or a lovely eight mile hike for those looking to stay on trail and still be challenged by approximately 3,800′ of elevation gain. Though still patches of snow at the top, the trail is accessible and well travelled by hikers eager to take in the gorgeous views.
Our group (myself, Angela, and Heidi, with trip leader David) met at the TH and departed at approximately 10:45am. Note that there is still a stand for permits into the Alpine Lakes Wilderness that must be completed and attached prior to your hike if you choose to go. We followed the main trial through the forest, feeling out the group’s pace and getting to know each other.
The trail crosses numerous gulleys as it ascends (the source of serious avalanches in the winter), and under David’s direction, we left the main trail to ascend one of these for our first scramble. Several areas required greater attention as we navigated up what at times felt like a dried waterfall, and one section was a challenging enough climb that David mentioned it was likely rated higher than he had anticipated and though nervous, I was proud to be able to overcome some of my lingering fear of actual climbing enough to work through the problem and come out safely at the top.
Once we left the gulley, we were surrounded by an abundance of beautiful wildflowers including Bear Grass in full bloom. Carefully navigating the wild terrain with proper care and etiquette, we made our way back to the established trail and stopped for a brief lunch break.
We followed the trail for a ways, raising the eyebrows of several day trekkers who glanced a few times at our full packs and helmets. Now we could see the lookout tower at the summit and the views continued to expand as we glanced back over the I-90 cooridor and around at the neighboring peaks.
With the tower in sight, the trail took a noteable divide, the right branch switchbacking to the top, and the left providing a boulder/scramble route along the spine that appears well traveled judging by the wear to the dirt and worn boot paths on sections of rock. With our sights on the top, we spread out over the boulders and made our way to the lookout tower.
After relaxing at the summit, we took the trail down and took our time, stopping to admire views and look at neighboring peaks and routes for future adventures, arriving back at the cars a little after 5 p.m.
To follow our trail…