Mount Si at Midnight: An Adventure by Dorothea Nordstrand

  • By Dorothea Nordstrand
  • Posted 11/12/2006
  • Essay 8009
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This reminiscence of an adventure climbing Mount Si at midnight was written by longtime Seattle resident Dorothea (Pfister) Nordstrand (1916-2011). Nordstrand writes: This adventure dates from 1935. The "Miggs" in the story was Margaret Bavin, a classmate from Roosevelt High School and my very best friend and partner in adventure. We were best buddies until our marriages ... hers in 1943 and mine in 1944. Vern and I moved to Lake Forest Park and Miggs and John to Lake Sammamish, so we didn't get together very often. When we did, it was like we had always been, with her finishing my sentences, and me knowing what she was thinking without having her say it. Friends like that are very special. In 2009 Dorothea Nordstrand was awarded AKCHO's (Association of King County Historical Organizations) Willard Jue Memorial Award for a Volunteer, for contributing these vivid reminiscences to various venues in our community, including's People's History library.

Mount Si at Midnight

A recent newspaper article told of the closing for repair of the trail that snakes up the south flank of 4,167-foot Mount Si, the landmark stone mass that looms over North Bend. Mount Si is one of the favorite training trails for the Mountaineers Club in Seattle. It is a fairly tough hike, gaining 3,100 feet of elevation in four miles, but it is one of the few climbing trails within an hour's drive of Seattle that is usually free of snow by early May. That article brought back a treasured memory.

My best friend, Miggs, loved to climb and coaxed me up anything that was a hill if she could catch me in an unguarded moment. I hated a stiff climb, as even in those long-ago days I was plagued by shortness of breath. She could talk me into the effort by reminding me of how wonderful the view would be from the top. I have always been a push-over for a view.

One night, after we had been to a movie with her friend Jack and her cousin, also named Jack, she suggested it would be fun to climb Mt. Si. It was 11 o'clock at night, but who has sense at the ripe old age of 19? Miggs's friend, Jack, was enthusiastic about anything Miggs wanted to do, but I was very surprised when her cousin, Jack, agreed. He was a year or two older, and should have known better, I thought. I had been counting on him to say "no" and save me from being a spoil-sport, but, here he was saying "yes," so I was trapped.

Cousin Jack was a handsome young man who always looked “just-so,” with never a hair out of place. He had that “fresh from a band-box” look. I sometimes felt he tolerated Miggs and me as he would a pair of rowdy puppies, and it always surprised me when he accompanied us on our jaunts.

When we reached the trailhead at Mount Si, it was midnight and it was misting, but, of course, now there was no turning back. We girls were dressed, as we usually were, in pleated skirts, sweaters, and saddle oxfords. The two Jacks were wearing sweaters, slacks, and tan trench-coats.

At first, the trail was easy and it was fun, our flash-lights helping us to avoid the rocks and the roots that overran the trail. Then, the hard climb began and with it the huffing and puffing. Half way up, the rain began to fall in earnest and the path became slippery with mud. Saddle oxfords had slick, red-rubber soles, not the best traction on that steep trail, but we kept to our feet by pulling ourselves along, grabbing onto branches of salal and huckleberry. My wool sweater soaked up the rain until it felt like I was carrying ten extra pounds. Miggs's brown, long-haired angora sweater began to stretch with the weight of the wettness. She rolled up her sleeves as they grew in length, until there was a huge roll around each wrist. The neckline had sagged into a big "U," The sweater, which began the evening at just below her waist, soon hung well below her knees. We were a mess, but we got to the top.

Miggs was the leader on the up-grade, but I could come down a hill like greased lightning. I loved coming down. It meant that the hard part was done and I just let gravity take over while I ran downhill, the rest of the pack following as they would. They found me sitting smugly on the running board when they arrived back at the car.

We drove into North Bend for breakfast about 5 a.m. Fortunately, there weren't many people in the café at that hour. My hair hung in sodden strings, dripping streams of water down my neck. Miggs looked like a soggy, brown, half-drowned teddy bear. Her friend, Jack, had rolled up the legs of his wet trousers and his shins were splotched with patches of blue and green where his Argyle socks had faded. That darned Cousin Jack still looked like a fashion plate. The only effect the pouring rain had on him was to put a curl into his handsome head of hair.

Whoever said we were all created equal?

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