The leaves fell hard, splashing the moist rocky trail with each impact. Each leaf linking with another leaf to form a colorful jigsaw puzzle at my feet. The rain, a cold reminder of the months to come, fell confusingly parallel to the rate of my perspiration. "Am I sweating? Or is that rain?" One breath in, one breath out. The clouds, thick with moisture, sit teasingly high above me at 6,000 ft. Just enough space to expose the summits of today's route.
The first ascent is just shy of 5 miles, with 4,000+ ft. of vertical and isn't a route that can be run fluidly. Run. Hike. Breath. Repeat. At times, the effort feels like a 400m sprint. Miles inch by at a snails pace. The Tortoise, of Aesop's Fables, has become the Hare, and I am forced into patience. The wind slashes through the trees as it becomes impeded by the sudden uprising of the mountain. The first mile after the waterfall humbles you with 1,300 ft. of vertical gain, and then the mountain breaks you. The final .88 mi., casts an intimidating shadow with 1,900 ft. of vertical gain. I have an angry, simple thought, "Mountains should change their names to Masochist." Finally, I summit. My hat is nearly blown off my head as I take in my surroundings. The wind is gusting at 30 mph, and the temperature is much lower than the 50°F at the Mount Si Trailhead. Snapping a quick photograph, I look west toward a rock face jutting about the tree swept mountainside. Destination number two, Mount Si.