Granite Mountain — Saturday, Sep. 14, 2013
For this trip, I was working for the US Forest Service, so I was in the uniform both days, interacting with other hikers, and working in the lookout. I hit the trailhead around 8 30am, but didn't get started hiking until 9am due to the various trailhead duties that need to be done when rangering. Think permit gathering, trash duty, and other little time-consuming chores. The trail is clear all the way to the top, but it was a long hike. I had started later than I typically do and while I didn't have a tent or a stove with me, I was still carrying more weight than I have carried up Granite on past hikes. Maybe it's due to exposure, direct sun, or the fact that you can see the top pretty much the whole way, but the 4 miles to the top of Granite pass slower than almost any other hike I have done. But it was a nice hike (as nice as it can be when you're wearing heavy canvas uniform pants on an 80 degree day) and the people on trail were friendly. The berries are out in force in the meadow, and are a great rejuvenating treat. In fact, they're part of the reason I took such a while getting to the top. But I finally did summit, and opened the lookout for the patient hikers who had gotten there before me. The lookout is cushy - when Forest Service rangers stay there they get a stove, a bed, a little table, and a cooler (only usable when there's snow). There's even a supply of water up there, but it's for Forest Service employees only, so don't count on refilling at the top. I closed the lookout at 6p and enjoyed a gorgeous sunset that showed Rainier off better than the haze had during the day. In spite of a very windy evening, I slept pretty well and woke up at 8, dressed and headed down to retrieve water to replace what I'd used. I returned and opened the lookout at 10a, but it was a quiet day and I closed up at 1p after less than 15 visitors. The hike down was uneventful, warm until hiking into the incoming clouds of what turned out to be a heck of a thunderstorm. Glad that I got off the mountain before that one hit. Finished up with some little trailhead cleaning and permit gathering and headed home.