My Seattle friend and I were in need of a hiking adventure, and selected Hansen Creek trail, a new hike that promised some steep hills, single-track trails, and a little scree scrambling.
After a bit of searching by car, we found what looked to be the trailhead on the west side of Snoqualmie Pass east of Seattle After parking, loading our packs, and letting the dog out of the van, we set off, looking for the trail that promised to be heading uphill after about a mile on an old overgrown road. Soon we saw some narrow clearings heading up the mountain, but with no signage, there was no way to know if any of these were the trail or not. Optimistically, we headed up what looked a bit like an old mine tailing, a waterfall of brushless muddy sand spewing down the hill. We fought our way up, sliding back down every few steps and using limbs and trees to pull ourselves up. Still not sure if we were on a trail, we continued scouting when all of a sudden, we both saw heads popping up from behind old growth tree stumps, and then ducking back down again. What had we stumbled across in the forest? We approached one man at the nearest stump to ask if we were on a trail. He raised his head long enough from clawing in the dirt to say, “Trail?? No, we’re hunting crystals,” then down went the head and on went the clawing. My friend and I exchanged curious glances and kept scrambling, optimists that we are. After a few more minutes of scrambling, we came across a young couple and two young boys crawling around in the dirt. We asked what they were doing, and, in a far more friendly tone than our previous encounter, he explained how this was one of the most well-known places to hunt for crystals – at least to serious crystal hunters, which explained why we had never heard of it. He showed me a flat mesh basket he was using to scoop up dirt and shake till the grains fell through, leaving rocks to inspect in the quest for quartz crystals. He even pulled a couple of crystals out of his pocket. These weren’t rocks that looked like dirty ol’ garden variety pebbles despite the claim of a crystal. We were talking gorgeous quartz crystals that would draw a nice bit of pocket change in a store or at a crafts fair! As we glanced around the dense brush, it became easier to pick out other little groups of people sitting in the dirt. While we didn’t find our trail up the mountain, we saw other crystal-hunters (a.k.a. amateur geologists or rock hounds) hiking in while we were headed out – most were equipped with packs and little shovels, while a few had a pail of beers.