Pierce (27) & Eisenhower (28). Solo.

To close out my annual trip I decided to do another two-fer, one that a friend of mine has been recommending since I started coming to the state to hike. I decided to start at the Crawford Connector Trailhead and do it as an out and back to avoid road walking. I got to the lot around 07:15, paid my $5 to the green box, with only about 10 cars in the lot and another solo guy gearing up. It was promising to be another really clear and pretty day. Car said it was 39° but I just went with long sleeves and left my fleece in my pack.

My legs felt creaky and unwilling, particularly my left quad- I must’ve been favoring that leg without realizing it. Very tense. Knowing I’m faster (but more reckless) without my poles, I stowed them on my pack and got to it.

This trail was just what I needed after a long week of hiking. Dirt and rocks and semi-stream bed hiking with gradual pushes followed by small flat areas to catch your breath before the next one. Every time I told myself I would take a break after the next push, I managed to reset a bit on the next flat area and keep moving. I made good time and was on the flat to the Mizpah Hut that I wanted to check out (I love these things!) before I knew it. Lots of nice plank areas to avoid the mud- and also tons of spiderwebs!

After poking around the hut for a little bit I pushed myself up the ~.7mi rock scramble pretty quickly and was somewhat on-ridge. Still hadn’t seen anyone, but heard some yelling and whooping somewhere behind me as I hiked through the dense and muddy brush to get to the summit of Pierce.

As I summitted I saw one guy packing up to leave the summit and I soaked in the views for a few minutes while evaluating the trail ahead (Eisenhower looked like it was “right there”- but we all know how deceptive a mile is in the mountains.) it was an absolutely severe clear day with another cloud inversion in a distant valley and a great view of the Washington resort below.

I didn’t linger long and dropped off into the woods again. Shortly after I heard more shouting and commotion behind me and decided to pause for a couple of minutes, allowing 4 trail runners and their screamed excited conversation to pass. I reeled in my pace a little bit to allow some distance to accumulate between me and the noise.

The hike over to Eisenhower wasn’t too painful. Small rocky pushes followed by little wooded scrubby dense paths. I stopped numerous times to take photos and videos.

Finally I was on Eisenhower and slowly dragging my ass up the loose scree past numerous gigantic, ornate looking cairns. When I finally got up there I was surprised to see only three other hikers, a couple about my age and an older man with his dog.

We all took photos for eachother and chatted about our hikes and admired the insanely beautiful day we had, the foliage was unreal. I mentioned to the couple that I would be heading back down over Pierce to descend, and they told me that they were only hiking this peak today - would I like a ride back to my car if I came down Edmands Path? YES, I certainly would. I texted my best friend and my brother about the change in plans with a loose description of what the couple looked like and their names, in case I went missing or something- lol.

I finished up my summit beer noting there were about 10 people up there at this point, and started down Edmands Path, loosely following the couple. The first part of the descend was very large sharp rock- where we encountered a trail crew and a ranger moving rocks around to keep people on trail. I so rarely see this that I was fascinated watching them move stones with aprons.

Passed about six more people in a half mile, after getting down into the wood line the trail was very wet with some small scrambles to gently navigate (crab walk!).

Once in the woods proper I was delighted by the bright yellow leaves, dirt under foot and limited large downhill steps and made great time.

Before I knew it I could see cars and the couple was just ahead of me, I hopped into their SUV & they graciously gave me a lift to my car, saving me probably two miles on foot. I thanked them profusely & got my stuff into my own vehicle - the trailhead was now so densely packed that I was damn near double parked - and headed out.

Another great vacation done with seven 4000’ers complete. Setting a loose goal for myself to stop hiking only once a year here and perhaps finish this list for my 35th birthday. That will give me a little over a year to bag the rest, and perhaps motivate me to get here more often.

Other peaks climbed on this trip