Glacier Vista, Mount Tahoma Trails Association
February 4, 2007

Yeah, so the dead cow didn't do much for me. Peter and I quickly glanced over the map as we bailed on our choice to climb up fabulous Mount Griffith, which looked dull enough never to have had a first ascent. Griffith was probably some local hermit. The row of massive boulders blocking road had forced us to reconsider our plan. The deceased bovine perhaps had not paid heed to the warning. Although decomposing, I suspected that a cow that had been killed in the November flooding might have had a bit more rot on it.

Peter and I had bailed on St. Helens this weekend as we publicly feared the weather. Privately, neither of us really wanted to get up at 2 am to make the drive and the plod. Which put us in the Mount Tahoma Trails System, walking an almost flat trail on crappy, hard snow, heading for some place called Glacier Vista. Or Rainier Vista, depending on whether you paid attention to a guidebook or the trail signs.

Although the sky was cloudy, the weather was pleasant and balmy, at least for Washington in February at 3500 feet. We didn't even bother putting our snow shoes on as the snow was packed enough to make walking easy. A few Nordic skiers glided by, scraping their skis on the rocks that occasionally poked through the thin snow. Though this was a high snow year in Washington, it apparently wasn't so here.

After a few miles we came to a clearing where an excellent view of St. Helens could be had, its new lava dome clearly smoking away. Had we driven down this morning, we probably would have been heading down by down after having a great climb. But as it was we were looking at it from afar, and having just as good of a time.

Peter and I were formulating a hit list for the summer, and no ordinary hit list would do. As evidence of our relative juvenility, we had formed a cabal with another conspirator to do away with a list of scary sounding mountains. Terror. Fury. The Destroyer. Formidable. Forbidden. Despair. Storm King. And so on. Although many of these were classic climbs, we wanted them purely for their names.

A bit further from our St Helens view point, we reached Glacier (or Rainier) Vista and ogled the peak. Rainier didn't make the scary peaks list, but I suspected I might give it a run this summer as well. The Big Fatty had to be done in. More accurately, I wanted it to let me survive it. But that is a story for another time.


From Lakewood, take SR512 west briefly and then exit onto SR7, heading south. Keep on 7 until you reach SR706 and make a left on it for Paradise (signed, you can't miss it). Drive 706 the near side of Ashford. Make a left turn onto a paved road, signed for the Mount Tahoma Trails north access. If you pass a sign for the south access on your right, you've gone too far. If you hit downtown Ashford, you've gone too far. The paved access road becomes gravel after a hundred yards or so. Drive up it as high as you can go, park, and start out on the main trail. Glacier Vista is about 3.5 miles away and up 800 feet, though the official distance is a bit less.