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Mount Si, Snoqualmie Valley now official National Recreation Trails

By Joel Connelly
Seattle P.I.
U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell has designated ten new National Recreation trails, two of them in King County and one of which she hiked in days as CEO of Recreational Equipment Inc.

 

U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell has designated ten new National Recreation trails, two of them in King County and one of which she hiked in days as CEO of Recreational Equipment Inc.

The honorees are the popular trail up Mount. Si, hiked by 80,000 to 100,000 people each year and the 31-mile Snoqualmie Valley Trail that goes from Duvall to Rattlesnake Lake.

“By designating these exceptional trails as part of the National Trail System, we recognize the efforts of local communities to provide outdoor recreation that can be enjoyed by everyone,” Jewell said.

Mount. Si is “easily accessible,” as described by Jewell, but its top is not for the faint hearted.

The trail up the 4,167-foot Cascade front range peak, made famous as a backdrop to the TV show “Twin Peaks,” gains more than 3,000 vertical feet in four miles.

An amusing description from Washington Trails Association says:  “In early spring, climbers getting ready for Rainier come here with weighted packs. Conventional wisdom says if they can reach the end of the trail in under two hours, they’re ready to conquer the state’s tallest peak.”

The Mount Si test is part of Seattle Post-Intelligencer oral history.

Three of the paper’s writers were planning a Mount. Rainier climb in the early 1980s.  The managing editor, an out-of-shape cigar smoker, caught wind of the climb and invited himself along.

The threesome sought a way to discourage him. The way was the climb up Mount Si. About halfway up, gutteral sounds were heard about two switchbacks below. The managing editor was tossing his cookies and would not climb Rainier.

Ex-Washington State Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom has virtually laid claim to Mount. Si, climbing it dozens of times getting ready for still challenges later in the year.

Mount Si is also a landmark in the culture of state land management.

Back in the 1970s,  the state Department of Natural Resources was known mainly for vast clearcuts on state-owned timberlands, the “DNR” spawning the nickname the Department of Nothing Remaining.

Two events in 1977 signaled a transformation. Whidbey Island residents won an injunction against the clearcutting of the “Classic U” forest, old growth across from South Whidbey State Park. The DNR was forced to do an environmental assessment of its plans.

And the Washington Legislature created a State Conservation Area on Mount Si, protecting the familiar face seen from Seattle and the Snoqualmie Valley and (close up) by thousands of climbers.

Current State Land Commissioner Peter Goldmark has protected nearby lands in the Middle Fork-Snoqualmie river. The Middle Fork valley was protected by Congress last year when it was made part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers system.

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