For this week’s Active Ajax Adventure, my intentions were to find a longer, shaded hike that would provide uninterrupted solitude, avoid road construction, and beat the holiday crowds and summer heat. This was ramble 46 (and hike 12) on the year but more importantly, potential material for blog one hundred. We visited West Tiger 3 from Poo Poo Point, making a giant loop covering ten miles and about 3000′ elevation gain.
The Solitude of an Early Start
I’d heard that people love to watch parasailers take off from Poo Poo Point, so we needed an early start. I’d never been on this trail before so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. How early was “early”? Would the trailhead be as obvious as the description made it out to be? Would it be as crowded as “the highway” from Exit 20?
Ajax and I pulled into the parking lot at 6:15, delighted to find only eight other cars. Score! As we started up the well-maintained rock trail I felt like I was climbing Mother Nature’s Stairmaster. We spotted a trail runner on the way down, a woman walking her dog, and a pair of trail runners who passed us going up, but for the most part, we had the trail to ourselves.
The day served up such feathered lovelies as olive-sided flycatchers (drink! three! beers!), Swainson’s thrushes (an ascending melodic spiraling song), western tanagers, a pileated woodpecker (one of my favorite birds), and chestnut-backed chickadees. As we warmed up, the stiffness in my lower back loosened up and some unusual hip discomfort on the left side disappeared. We were both in our element.
Poo Poo Point
We reached a magnificent view of Mt. Rainier in less than an hour. We paused for some photos and I asked another hiker if he knew which path would take us to West Tiger 3. I’d seen a gravel service road on the map that looked promising, but he insisted I continue to Poo Poo Point.
“Once you reach it, take the trail behind the restroom.” I thanked him for the information.
“It’s very far,” he added, looking at me as though wondering whether I’d started from the wrong trailhead.
“I know,” I assured him. “That’s what I’m looking for.”
Less than ten minutes later, we reached the vacant Poo Poo Point with a view of Lake Sammamish and all points west. Squak. Cougar Mountain. Seattle. The Olympics.
Beyond Poo Poo Point to One-View
Once we’d taken photos from Poo Poo Point, we continued toward the restroom and found a trail leading into the dense woods beyond it. I am well-acquainted with West Tiger 3, but exclusively from the north. How hard would it be to find One-View Trail?
It turns out that the signage everywhere on Tiger is excellent. We soon found ourselves on One-View, and I was looking forward to the view. Except it must be named for the only view it has: green, green, and more green. Enormous tree stumps. And several precious orange tiger lilies.
At the junction of One-View and Tiger Mountain Trail, we headed toward Tiger 2 and the logging zone. Now I knew exactly where we were, even though I’d never been on this part of the trail before.
Tiger Mountain Trail: TMT
The more I explore Tiger Mountain, the more interest I have in doing the entire 15-mile long TMT. Apparently, portions of the trail will be intermittently closed through the fall of 2024, but we didn’t encounter any closures. We did, however, discover parts of the trail that are overgrown, eroded, or muddy, so perhaps there are plans to fix those problems.
Plenty of short bridges traverse steep ravines and the worst of the mud. I sensed that both the TMT and Railroad Grade, at least between Poo Poo and West Tiger 3, don’t experience heavy foot traffic. We had the trail to ourselves, highly unusual for a beautiful summer holiday weekend. Win!
Once we reached a thinner part of the forest, I knew we must be approaching the logged portion of the mountain. In just two years, West Tiger 3’s barren, slashed, and ugly summit has become transformed into a lush alpine meadow with beautiful lupines, daisies, and foxgloves. And the views! Oh my. We shared the summit with one man when we arrived around 9 a.m.
Section to Railroad Grade
Once we left the summit of West Tiger 3, I searched for a stick to help me down the steep “unmaintained” trail known as Section Line. It is even steeper than Cable Line, and in the dry conditions we’ve had, it’s like walking on marbles. I’ve slipped enough in the past five years to last a lifetime; I wasn’t taking any chances.
Fortunately, with all the recent logging, there are plenty of sticks to choose from. Mother Nature provided a nice walking stick and I left it at the sign marking Section Line and Railroad Grade. May someone else benefit from it as well.
We ventured onto another new-to-us trail looking for the junction with One-View and our return to Poo Poo Point.
Return To Poo Poo Point
We returned to Poo Poo Point around 10:15 where plenty of spectators had gathered to watch parasailers take flight. Had the car in the parking lot hauled up all of the chutes? Or do the parasailers carry them up themselves?
As I watched more and more people hiking up from the Poo Poo Point trailhead, I realized how dramatic the contrast was between the solitude we’d experienced during the first four hours of our hike and the holiday crowd watching at the Point. I realized that on a sunny Monday morning, the day before Independence Day, Poo Poo is probably just as crowded as Rattlesnake Ledge. Fortunately, we had less than an hour to return to the car.
We’ve reached the end of blog one hundred. I am thrilled you’re continuing on this journey with me. I will be taking most of July to figure out the direction to take for year three. I’ll return in August with exciting new material.