Taming Tiger Mountain

So we had nearly record-breaking temps here in Seattle this past weekend — topping 90 both days. I’m a true Seattleite in that I prefer all weather types in moderation, so normally I’d be staying out of the sun as much as possible. But this time around, I got in more fun in the sun than I’d expected.

Saturday morning, I had plans to meet up for some tennis with Anuja and her co-worker Jeff for some tennis by my place. Due to a time constraint on Jeff’s end, we couldn’t meet until 11 a.m. Since our recent “sunny” days start out overcast and then clear up by mid-afternoon, we figured it would be great tennis weather at 11 on Saturday, though they were predicting high temps. Wrong! It was quite steamy. We all slathered on the sunblock, but I think we only stayed out there for barely an hour. Afterward, we lounged around in the partial shade on the side of the court and chatted, waiting for our energy levels to rise. I was invited to a couple barbecue parties Saturday afternoon, but I was still feeling drained even after eating lunch, so I was in no mood to stand around outside in the hot sun and make conversation. So I bailed on both events.

Sunday, I got up at 6:20 (ouch!) to get ready for a hiking outing to Tiger Mountain with some girlfriends. The bridge I’d usually take to get to Chrissy’s (we were going to carpool) was closed for the Seafair Marathon, so I gave myself 30 minutes to take the alternate route around Lake Washington. Due to barely any traffic, I made it to Chrissy’s 10 minutes early, only to find out that she’d slept in and had sprung out of bed just a few minutes prior. So I played with her cats and dog while she got ready. We made it to the mountain around 8:10 and met up with the other three girls in the dusty parking lot.

Stacey (top), Jill and Jax (sp?), Jill’s dog

The hike up was more strenuous than any of us (including Chrissy, who mapped our route) had anticipated.. to avoid the crowds, we steered clear of the main trail, which I think is the West Tiger 3 trail, and instead went up the Nook/Section Line trail(part of which is marked “unmaintained”) to the top. The last half or so of the hike was really steep, so the three of us in the “slow” group (we were also a bit back from Chrissy to keep her dog Maggie away from Jill’s dog) were stopping every five-10 minutes through the worst of the worst sections to catch our breath. At one of our stops, these two older (early ’60s?) men passed by with a quick “hello,” then after they were about 50 feet past us, they turned around and said, “You ladies are all Obama supporters, right?” Talk about the REAL campaign “trail.”

Chrissy, Maggie (dog) and me on the summit

Once we finally stumbled up to the top, the view was a little anticlimactic — in the sense that there really wasn’t a view to speak of, as it’s mostly blocked by trees. (Though, I should admit I didn’t wander around the entire summit area.) To continue to keep the dogs apart, we squatted in two sections of the summit to rest and eat some snacks. After about 15 minutes, we headed back down. Due to Stacey’s and Jill’s bad knees, we went down via the busy West Tiger 3 trail, because it’s much wider and softer and has less of a grade. En route, I saw a co-worker of mine walking up the trail with his girlfriend (I think) and some kids. I waved and said hello; he waved back, but I don’t think he recognized me, as I was in sunglasses and had my hair pulled back into a ponytail. So I did my Clark Kent move and raised my sunglasses to reveal my eyes, and he said, “Oh! Hi!” and we had a quick chat. Also on the way down, we encountered a man in a hiking outfit I’ll never forget: a gray polo T-shirt tucked into neon green, tight running shorts with a funky black-splatter design. Yikes!! We were all holding back our snickers as he passed by us.

I had been madly drinking water through my hydration backpack the entire hike, so by the time we were about halfway down, I was getting really twitchy to relieve myself. Luckily, though, I was able to make it to the bottom where they had toilets. Then we all copped a squat in the shade by our cars in the parking lot to have some chilled drinks and fruits that Stacey had thoughtfully brought along. Turned out on our hike up, we’d gained about 2,000 feet in elevation over two miles, which is quite a respectable (and difficult) hike. On the way down, our alternate trail was longer at three miles.

So all in all, a difficult but ultimately rewarding outing. Two days later, I still feel some stiffness in my quads when I stand and walk after having sat for a while, and I’m still occasionally scratching the six mosquito bites I had the misfortune of getting — one on my left ankle, one behind my left knee, three on the back of my right shoulder and one on the back of my right hand. I’m just really glad I didn’t get one on my face!

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