Boy Scouts tackle three Issaquah Alps in one day

July 3, 2012

By Brandon Adam

Local group climbs mountains in less than 12 hours

A troop of Boy Scouts recently set what might be a world record when they climbed all three of the Issaquah Alps in one day.

Mason Jones, 11, the youngest of the group to complete the full hike, approaches the summit of Tiger Mountain, with the summit of Squak Mountain, climbed earlier in the day, at the right. By Rob McAdams

The 20-mile hike began behind schedule on a misty Saturday morning.

Roughly 10 minutes after 7 a.m. June 9, the hikers began their long walk from Newcastle to Issaquah.

The handful of Scouts accompanied by their parents had their work cut out for them. They called it the “Three Peak Challenge.” The troop was accompanied by experienced hiker Paul Mitchell.

The challenge was to hike Cougar, Squak and Tiger mountains within 12 hours. The Scouts finished the hike in 11½.

“We made decent time,” 15-year-old Connor McAdams said. “We started an hour behind schedule and we still finished on time.”

Building character

The hike began at the Red Town Trailhead in Newcastle on Cougar Mountain and ended in Issaquah on Tiger Mountain.

The Red Town Trail is a popular hiking path named after a mining town in the 1800s. Its red houses gave it its name. Though it is fairly easy to navigate, it does have some potential dangers, such as wildlife and slippery trails on damp days.

The Red Town Trail consists of a system of 25,000 acres of trails throughout the Eastside cities of Bellevue, Newcastle and Issaquah. The trail features waterholes and falls, native wildlife and indigenous plant life.

Rob McAdams, the father of Connor McAdams, saw the journey as beneficial to the character of the young Scouts, particularly what he would consider the challenge aspect.

“It was tiring but we felt really good about finishing it,” Rob McAdams said regarding the Scouts’ performance.

Connor McAdams said he was also proud of himself and his fellow Scouts.

“We’ve been training for three or four months now,” he said. “Only three or four people quit.”

Rob McAdams said he was most impressed with the fact that this was the Scouts’ first 20-mile hike.

“They never done a hike this long before — the adults were falling behind the Scouts,” he said.

By the numbers

Scout Master John Hennig had a pedometer on him during the hike. Here are some stats:

  • Steps to Wilderness Peak on Cougar — 6,700 (arrival time 9 a.m.)
  • Steps to Central Peak on Squak — 18,200 (arrival time 11:30 a.m.)
  • Steps to West Tiger 1 on Tiger — 35,100 (arrival time 4 p.m.)
  • Steps to trail’s end at Issaquah High School — 50,968 (arrival time 7 p.m.)
  • The steps are a running total, not from point to point. Times are approximate within 10 minutes or so. The group started at 7:30 a.m., so hiked for 11 1/2 hours.

On the Web

What to know

To visit the same trails the Scouts walked go to the Red House Trail off Exit 13 in Newcastle. From Interstate 90, take the Lakemont Boulevard Southeast exit. Go a couple of miles and you’ll find a blue sign for the Red Town Trailhead on the left.

Mason Jones, the youngest hiker at 11, earned his hiking merit badge on the challenge. Rob McAdams said he was impressed by Jones’ age.

“It really is incredible,” he said, adding that most Scouts who earn the badge get it when they’re 17.

The hiking merit badge is necessary to become an Eagle Scout.

Fatigue and other dangers

The hike was in the planning stages for a month. The Scouts trained for the hike by first walking the separate mountains on different days.

“We hiked smaller hikes to just kind of warm up,” Connor McAdams said.

The hike was full of potential dangers and risks for the young Scouts, who were between 11 and 17. The trails were full of wildlife. The Scouts spotted black bears on numerous occasions.

Black bears were the least of the Scouts’ worries. Sprained ankles and physical injuries were considered more threatening. An injury could’ve compromised the hike.

The Scouts were equipped with the bare essentials. Each carried a daypack, food, water, first aid and compasses.

A daypack usually weighs about 5 pounds. Other Scouts went the extra mile.

Rob McAdams said Scouts Derek Schott wore a 25-pound pack to train for a longer hike and Griffin Mitchell carried an extra gallon of water just for fun.

The Scouts and their parents said they thought nothing much of the hike after finishing the first peak. But the group became tired as they approached Tiger Mountain.

Most of the hardship and fatigue took place not only on the way up the climb of the final peak but also on the way down. Tiger Mountain has an elevation gain of more than 3,000 feet. The monotony of the hike took its toll.

“It was kind of up and down,” Rob McAdams said describing the overall experience.

The hike on Tiger Mountain was memorable for its steep incline.

“Your face is like right in front of the trail,” Rob McAdams said regarding the steepness.

The strenuous hike will be a positive experience for the Scouts and will prepare them for other difficult hikes.

“It set the bar for hikes later this year,” Rob McAdams said. “It’s going to seem easy after this.”

Brandon Adam: 392-6434 or Comment at

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One Response to “Boy Scouts tackle three Issaquah Alps in one day”

  1. Stephen Knapowski on August 15th, 2012 10:55 am

    That is an impressive accomplishment! Congtrats to all the Scouts and Leaders who made the trip!

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