Mount Si Haystack, Washington, USA by Michael Bretz

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In August, I had moved to Seattle Washington for its abundance of hiking, climbing, backpacking, mountaineering, and chasing the dream of being a photographer for the outdoor industry. The first six months, I didn't get into the mountains much. I had spent my time looking for a job and getting my kids enrolled in school. Finally, after the new year, I got the opportunity to get out and do some of the local hikes. The first one I chose was Mount Si. It looked so epic from the valley with a bare haystack peak, shrouded in swirling fog. Coming in at just around 4,100' in elevation. I chose it on looks alone. To be honest, I was pretty unprepared for the amount of snow I ran into (no microspikes) and other than checking the precipitation forecast, I hadn't done much research on the weather. Luckily, it is a popular trail and well marked. As I started to get to the higher elevations the fog cover became really dense and the snow was getting about ankle deep. I had dressed warmly but was concerned about traction and I was starting to wonder if I would even get to see the summit. When the trail broke out onto the summit all I could see in front of me was a stack of rocks and it looked far less epic than it did from the ground. I was really confused.

Hoping for at least a good shot into the valley I climbed around the back of what I thought was the haystack and summit. As I came around the back side there was a small break in the weather and I realized, I was on the false summit. The real, epic haystack I had witnessed in the valley and the true summit was about 100 yards off in the distance slowly revealing itself through the mist. I slowed myself down and took a few of the best frames as I could compose before this window closed about 2 minutes later. Not to be deterred, I hoofed it about 50 yards through thigh deep snow and up onto another false summit that sat in front of the Haystack. Dug myself a small bucket seat between some rocks and settled in for the next break in the weather. After about 45 minutes of waiting I got my opportunity. Patience and perseverance pays off.

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