Conditions were bad on the westside and in the mountains following the snow and ice storm that hit the Puget Sound area last week. I was scheduled to participate on a Tiger Mountain hike, but the leader cancelled the hike within the last hour due to high wind conditions in the area. I looked up the weather conditions in Vantage. Seeing that it was still and cold, I proposed an alternate desert hike along the John Wayne Trail nearby. The trip is described in Desert Hikes, Washington by Alan L. Bauer and Dan A. Nelson and on the WTA Site. Tom Davis and Lisa Grayson quickly responded and we met at Tibbets in Issaquah at 8:30am to carpool. The drive over Snoqualmie Pass was slow. We witnessed a small avalanche of snow falling on the eastbound lanes of I90 near the summit. As promised, the weather near Vantage was cold and still – a great escape from the westside chaos we endured the past week. During the winter the access road to the John Wayne trailhead is gated at Huntzinger Road, adding an additional 3 miles (not 2.5 miles from the guide book) distance to the trailhead. Luckily I copied down the GPS coordinates from the WTA site’s Google map, because the Huntzinger junction with the John Wayne Trail is not well signed in the winter. We reached the trailhead quite late for Mountaineers – about 12:00 noon. We decided to walk about 2.5 hours, reaching the remnants of the town of Doris, and turn back. On the drive home, we again witnessed the severity of the windstorm that pummeled the westside, as trees were obstructing some of the westbound lanes of I90 near North Bend. Overall we made the right choice to stay out of the mountains and walk in the desert today.
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