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More Training Info > Little Girls on Little Si

Family-Friendly Outings - Little Girls on Little Si
By Courtenay Schurman, MS, CSCS November 2007

Four of us (2 moms, a 3-year-old and a 4-year-old) decided to head to North Bend, WA September 29, 2007 in order to “climb a mountain.” It would be my daughter’s first true “summit” and my friend’s daughter’s 2nd.

It was a typical fall day in the Pacific Northwest, overcast but not yet spilling rain, just cool enough for a light weight wool long sleeved shirt, but no need for a down jacket yet. I took one just in case (it is so light it goes with me everywhere.) For all I knew, maybe one of the girls would get chilly. We rendezvoused at J. and S’s house just before 9. Both girls were super excited to go hiking together again.

After a giggle fest at the gas pump (which caused one smiling father in another vehicle to exclaim, “It sounds like you have wild animals in the back of your van!”), we escaped from the city around 9 a.m., truly unusual for both moms who are used to Mountaineers alpine starts. To arrive at a trailhead at 10 a.m. would be pure luxury – or unheard of -- for most seasoned hikers, but not when you have younger children included among the participants!

To get to Little Si trailhead (55 Hikes Around Snoqualmie Pass), proceed much the same way you would for Si--take I-90 east from Seattle to North Bend, take Exit 31 and head north into town. Turn right (east) onto North Bend Way and continue .8 mile to Mt. Si Road and turn left. Travel .3 miles across the Middle Fork Bridge and keep an eye out for newly added Little Si signs; go past the first one (434 Ave. SE was for the older trail) and take the second one (on the left) where there is a new parking area, elevation roughly 500’, complete with outhouse.

We piled out of the van, grabbed various gear (footwear ranging from tennis shoes to hiking boots; alpine, bear and Dora backpacks; trekking poles and walking sticks) and headed for the trailhead. Both J and I were surprised at what a beautiful trail Little Si is. The hike was new to all four of us, which made it that much more of an adventure. Having a child has really opened my eyes to things I never would have appreciated before, such as tiny mushrooms poking out of a nurse log. My prior experience with the trails in that area had been limited to the main conditioning highway on Si, as I send all my Seattle climbers there to provide a benchmark of their hiking pace on a substantial test piece close to the city (3100’ gain in 8 miles round trip.) Little Si is actually the smaller hill just south and west of Si, and the route is 5 miles round trip and roughly 1100’ elevation gain. Little Si is perhaps best known in the local climbing community for its tough sport climbing routes.

At 10 a.m. sharp we started up, both pre-schoolers trilling their sing-song “hiking hiking” mantra that they have been using since the four of us started hiking together as a team earlier in the summer. B. likes to mimic our dog, scouting what is ahead for the group, so she took off racing over the trail for the first 10 minutes. We stopped for rests and fuel every 15 minutes or so, enticing the girls onward and upward with several bites of food and sips of juice before moving forward. We marveled at tree root caves, clamored over large climbing rocks, studied the Doug Hansen memorial bench at the base of Little Si, explored the many varieties of mushrooms poking up everywhere in the undergrowth, and just when we thought we were going to end up circumnavigating all of Little Si, the trail started to wind its way up the backside in earnest.

By the time we reached the top (with a lot of encouragement) it had started to get quite windy, so we took pictures at both the summit and another view point, ate our summit treats (peanut butter chocolate chip bar cookies) and then started back down. I could tell B was getting a little tired; over some of the steeper areas I carried her down so we could speed things up a bit. At one part of the steep section of the trail there was a disturbed yellowjacket nest; we avoided getting stung but several little boys following behind us a few minutes later were not so lucky. Once we got down off the steeper part of the hike, we created games called “Where’s the bench?” and “Tickle the mushrooms.” We took a long break at the base of the cliff to watch sport climbers dancing up the walls, and by 2:30 we were back at the van with some pretty tired little girls and quite surprised moms.

Little Si Trailhead with B (in pink) and S (in purple) ready to hike

B (with duck) and S (sitting, with stick) take a posed picture break on a slab of rock similar to others that dot the new approach to Little Si

B and S explore the interesting cave left by tree roots

Colorful red mushrooms that captivated the girls and left them looking for more to tickle

Another hiker passing by offered to take this shot of us at our lunch break; J and S (blue) on the left, I am on the right in green with my daughter B in pink

one of the summit lookout points with a view of the valley and Mt. Si. I hug my daughter both in celebration of her first summit but also to keep her from clamoring all over the rocks near the steep cliff!


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