I hiked Mt. Pilchuck, 5.4 miles and 2300 ft. elevation gain. In terms of views and variety of terrain, this hike is top tier. But I was constantly accosted by insects (flies, bees, mosquitoes), so I couldn’t stop moving until I reached the fire tower.
Mt. Pilchuck had it all: streams, rocky slopes, slippery snow, still-water insect breeding grounds.
To get to the tower, I had to scramble up boulders then climb a ladder. So I left some of my gear lower down, and after psyching myself up to overcome a mild fear of heights, I climbed the rocks and reached the tower.
There were a lot of people milling about. Some had brought camping gear to stay overnight, since the tower can be used on a first-come, first-served basis. A brave teenager posed for a picture on top of a narrow rock that fell sharply off, and it made me feel uneasy looking at him standing in such a perilous spot. “I’m wearing my plaid shirt, so nature.”
Another person accidentally dropped his water bottle, and we heard and watched it clang down the cliff for a good minute.
It was a foggy day, so I didn’t even see the tower until I was right next to it. Sometimes the fog would blow away, and I could see panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. But Mt. Pilchuck itself if so beautiful, that even though everything else was not visible, the hike was incredibly fun. Even the drive to the trailhead was an adventure, as the 7-mile forest road is mostly unpaved and laden with potholes.