The idea that you must work for what you want applies to most aspects of life, but not to hiking. Recently, I have found that longer hikes do not guarantee better views, which are what I seek. There have definitely been times my hard work did not pay off.
At the end of March, I got the opportunity to hike Mount Si, an eight-mile round-trip near North Bend that was fairly easy and did not take too much skill. This is the mountain better known to some TV viewers as Twin Peaks (top photo), for the quirky show of the same name shot in and around North Bend.
The view was amazing, including an overlook of grassy fields and continuous mountain ranges. Si was the highest peak in the area, so I could see miles and miles in any direction I looked. Being from hot and sunny California, I appreciated the pristine luscious forests of the Pacific Northwest that could be seen everywhere from the top of Mount Si.
At the start of summer, I decided to hike Mailbox Peak, six miles southeast of Si. I was naïve and didn't know exactly how difficult it was going to be. My friends and I trudged up the steep 4.5-mile hike (each way) and eventually made it to the top. Expecting the view would be worth the 4,000 foot elevation gain, I brought my Nikon D5200 to take high-quality pictures of my high-quality hike.
I ended up taking only four or so pictures of distant Mount Rainer and disappointing sights of mountains and barren hills as tall as Si, covered in fallen timber. Out of water and out of hope, I slowly made my way back down to the parking lot.
Never would I have expected to enjoy the much-easier eight-mile Mount Si hike more than Mailbox Peak. I had worked twice as hard to climb Mailbox but was left disappointed at the subpar view.
With all the options for hikes in the Pacific Northwest, it's important to pick and choose based on what you want to see, rather than the length and difficulty. Harder might not equate with better views. Unless you're training to climb Mount Rainier, a short three-mile hike like Comet Falls in Mount Rainier National Park may fulfill your hiking desires.
Whether you want to swim at the end of your hike in a calm frigid lake or sit on the edge of a cliff and eat a sandwich, the Pacific Northwest offers easy and tough options. Make sure your hike fits your goal by checking out pictures and reviews beforehand.
PEMCO employees have rated their favorite hikes, and I found their summaries to be an incredible resource. Happy hiking!