Dirty Harry's Balcony - March 21, 2014
Restless after doing errands and working all day, I took the opportunity of a beautiful spring day to go for a hike. Seeing crowds at the usual suspects, I went a little further out to find some quite and solitude. Dirty Harry's Balcony is one of my favorite places to visit. It's close to home, is a reasonable workout, and has a great view. I hadn't been up there since last autumn, so it seemed like a natural choice.
Temperatures quickly fell as I climbed out of North Bend. With blue skies and sun, and temps in the low 40's, I started on my way up the mountain. I immediately ran into a dusting of snow. The cut-through trail from the parking lot to the fire academy road was covered. Footprints helped me stay on trail.
I made my way along the road to the actual start of the trail. The usual rubble was covered by about an inch of snow. Up I went, traveling along the creek through the usual route. In some cases the snow helped smooth out the trail. Other spots had just enough snow cover to make the wet rocks slippery.
The snow deepened as I climbed up the trail, ranging from nothing to a few inches. I arrived at the turnoff for the balcony and decided to keep going up. There weren't any tracks going further up the mountain and it turned out to be rough going. I made it another 0.55 miles up the trail before the going got slippery. I had never been up this far, the snow was already over my ankles, and I didn't know if the steep switchbacks would be in avalanche terrain, so I turned around.
Getting back to the balcony area, I followed footsteps to ... not the balcony. Checking the map, I eventually followed the correct set of tracks and found the expected, beautiful, expanse of a view.
After a few drinks of water, I left the top and started back down the trail. The descent was uneventful.
Stats: 5.9 mi round trip, 1917ft elevation gain | 2014 Totals: 10.9mi, 3117ft elevation gain
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