Frog, Rockdale, & Hyak Lakes
Feb 20, 1999
- Type of Outing
- Day hike
Elevation Gain: 1,200 ft, Round Trip Distance: 5 mi.
I've never had so many people bail out at the last minute on any hike I've organized. However, John and a couple new women came along. Although we met at the park and ride a little after 8AM, we did not start hiking till 10:30. Stops to pick up a forgotten item, get gas and food, etc took a lot of time. This was the third trip I've made where I thought I would get to the top of Mt Catherine. Alas, it did not happen again. Some ski patrol people thwarted us in our attempt this time. We made the mistake of snowshoeing up the edge of the Hyak ski slope. This wasn't the best thing to do, but we certainly did not put anyone in danger. However, the ski patrol zealots did not want us to even use the forests for snowshoeing. This is a thick forest with fairly rough terrain and it is outside of the ski boundary. There were no skiers at all crazy enough to ski through this forest. I think the ski patrolers were wrong to forbid us access to these forests. They wanted us to buy $10 lift tickets and threatened to fine us. They were pleasant people and I should have been nicer to them, but I think they were wrong. We snowshoed out of eyesight of them, and then made our way through the forest, wondering if we were all going to be fined. This took us in the wrong direction to go to Mt Catherine, but the scenery was enjoyable anyway. Supposedly one is allowed to snowshoe up on top where the Nordic area is. We considered ourselves free once we attained the Nordic area.
The snow was deep, fresh and powdery. I broke trail most of the way and found this exhausting. There were places along the hike where we encountered ""crevasses"" in the deep snow to the bottom of a small creek. These could be quite dangerous. The snow is so deep now, that a slip in one could mean a fall of 20 feet with the scary possibility of the walls collapsing in and burying you. We crossed creeks many times via good snow bridges and fortunately no one fell in one of these chasms. Once in the Nordic area, we frequently used the groomed ski trails to get around. The snow is at least 20 -25 feet deep up there.
It was nice to see Rockdale Lake when the visibility was good enough to see the other side. We had great visibility today. It was sunny in the morning, and then hazy most of the rest of the day. From the overlook of Rockdale Lake, we could see McClellan Butte very clearly. Frog Lake was my favorite lake in today's hike. It is nice and secluded, and the small ski trail we used to get near it was very scenic. We saw some interesting windblown snow formations on the way there.
The wind began to pick up on our return trip. We had some strong gusts that made my ski poles vibrate and hum. On the return, we snowshoed down to Hyak Lake. The blue diamond markers to this trail were now only 1-3 feet above the snow. Some were right at snow level. Another good snowstorm could bury most of these markers. The last time I took this trail, I remembered how high the blue markers seemed off the ground. We followed the power lines back to Hyak and got to the car around 5PM.