Mount Persis: Eye-popping views, calf-aching climb

I’ve decided it doesn’t count as a scramble unless you pose at the summit with an ice ax.

On Saturday, I hiked Mount Persis with a group from the Everett Mountaineers. We did a lot of posing for photos.

Perhaps you remember Saturday? Warm, sunny, gorgeous clear skies and a stunning rainbow around the sun?

We couldn’t have picked a better day for a scramble up Mount Persis.

Persis is, as far as scrambles go, not very intimidating. There’s not a lot of exposure. We had out our ice axes, but I mostly used it for support on a few slick spots — and of course for posing for photos at the summit.

The trip starts out on a forest road at an unmarked trail. It’s more of a boot path, really, and it starts out steep. I think my calf muscles were a few inches longer by the time the route leveled out. The trail is overgrown in many places, but we were able to follow it without too much trouble. Orange tape and cairns helped us make it up the first ridge.

Once up that ridge, the route levels out a bit, and we started encountering snow. If you know how to use a map and compass, this isn’t a particularly hard route to follow. I would not do this trip, however, if you’re not comfortable with those.

We continued through the snow and trees for awhile, pausing to admire the views of Persis on the way up. Persis is impressively cliff like and rugged from the front. We were going up the back, though. Eventually the trees thinned out and we continued through open terrain until we reached the summit.

All along the way, there were many exclamations of delight. “Look! Baker! Look! Rainier! Look! Seattle! Look! Puget Sound!”

At the top, we repeated all of those and more. From Persis, you have a stunning view of Mount Index, which is only about 2 miles away, as the crow flies. You can also see Baker, Shuksan, the Olympics and Mount Rainier. We could even see Hat Island and Everett.

The view was incredible, and we all spent a lot of time spinning in circles and taking it all in. We also spent a lot of time taking photos. How could we resist?

We watched a few hawks circle lazily over head. We never did figure out what they were for sure. Red-tailed hawks was the best guess of the group. We also admired the view of two big rings around the sun, an interesting phenomenon that people all over the Puget Sound area could see.

I was happy to see the USGS marker at the summit. I always find those fascinating.

The route down was slick once we reached the steepest part of the trail. I spent a lot of time using the conveniently placed vegetation as a “veggie belay.” There’s one advantage to overgrown trails.

The trip up took us about 3 and a half hours. We spent a leisurely hour at the summit and the trip down took just over 2 hours.

After we finished, one of the scramblers suggested a slight detour up U.S. 2 to get milkshakes at Bigfoot Espresso near Index. I had a slight geek-out when I learned that part of “Harry and the Hendersons” was filmed there. I’ve even stopped there before and never noticed it.

Anyways, Bigfoot Espresso has fabulous coffee and milkshakes. They have a ton of options. I got chocolate and caramel. It was good. Next time I’m going to try mango and coconut, which someone else had and loved.

If you’d like to try Persis yourself, the WTA has driving directions. One note. When the directions say to turn left on Forest Service road 6620 after 3.5 miles, pay attention. A new logging road has been added since these directions were written. It’s a left at exactly 3.5 miles. Don’t take this turn. It’s a horrible, horrible road and ends pretty quickly at a slash pile and turn around. (Yes, we did find this out the hard way. I’m glad I wasn’t driving. Our driver took it all in stride.) Instead, go around one more bend in the road and you’ll find the correct Forest Service road. I did not see a marker, but I may have missed it. Other than that, the directions are good.

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