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On the occasion of the annual Othello Sandhill Crane Festival we spent three days in the general vic...

On the occasion of the annual Othello Sandhill Crane Festival we spent three days in the general vicinity exploring the areas for their wildlife: Potholes Reservoir, Lower Crab Creek, Wahlupe Slope, Saddle Mountains, Columbia River near Hanford Reach. Alan Bauer has a lot of good advices and directions in 'Desert Hikes' but often we followed others tips and suggestions.

What a spectacle to watch thousands of Sandhill Cranes noisily heading for their night roosts, Prairie Falcons soaring among the Saddle Mountains cliffs, remnants of a small colony of Washington Ground Squirrels along the Lower Crab Creek, a flock of White Pelicans below the White Cliffs at Columbia River.

Morning Doves, Chukars, Loggerhead Shrike, Great-eared Owls, Western Meadow- and Horned Larks, Long-billed Curlews, Rock Wren, Yellow-headed Blackbird, Magpies, Say's Phoebe, Sage Sparrow, Barn Owl, all were there and many other birds.

Yes, we had two ticks one evening! The weather: cold in the morning and evening, but in the upper to low sixties during the daytime. A sprincle of rain here and there. A few early scattered flowers.

 
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Snoqualmie Pass -- Snoqualmie Pass
Snow on trail
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Set out from the trailhead about 8am with two companions. Hit continuous snow on the trail at approx...

Set out from the trailhead about 8am with two companions. Hit continuous snow on the trail at approx 1/2 mile in. Snow was consolidated on the trail, but uneven (someawhat hard on the ankles). It started snowing on us about the same time.

The trail was easy to follow up to just before the point where it takes off directly up-slope in the summer - about 2 miles in. There were some tracks leading up a treed ridge and others that went across a snow gully and up. We elected to follow the tracks in the trees, which was a mistake. Through the trees, the going was fine, with good kick stepping, but above them there was an inch of powder snow over a layer of hard ice. This was steep and very sketchy, along with being windy and cold.

We made the ridge line about 9:45 and decided to bail out due to the miserable weather. We traversed back over to the snow gully beyond the trees we followed up and had exactly the reverse issue - severe post holing. Under the same weather conditions, I recommend to choose the post holing route over the tree route unless you have crampons and an ice axe.

 
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North Cascades -- West Slope
Blowdowns, Water on trail
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Under drizzly skies we hit the trail at 8:40. The trail is in ok condition. Several blowdowns need t...

Under drizzly skies we hit the trail at 8:40. The trail is in ok condition. Several blowdowns need to be stepped over, but nothing major. One log bridge has been broken in half by a large tree that fell across it. The waterfalls were really great with a lot of flow. This is a very nice hike with good specimens of old growth along the trail. No snow on the trail but patches here and there as we got closer to Boulder Ford.

It took 2 hours to get to the end of the trail which included gawk time at the falls.

 
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Snoqualmie Pass -- North Bend Area
Snow on trail
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We began the day by leaving a car at the south end of exit 27 and piled into a the second car up to ...

We began the day by leaving a car at the south end of exit 27 and piled into a the second car up to Rattlesnake Lake exit 32. Heading up to the Ledge we ran into all sorts of delicious humans and dogs. Lots of stormy weather, too. From the ledges, the next 9 miles were almost human free. We walked on snow about half the time. Trail appears to be in great shape. It's a long hike but a nice change from our standard late winter excursions up PooPoo Point and Lake Serene. Bring yack trax and gaitors! One of the large humans slipped on the ice and landed, bouncing on his rump.

 
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This morning we drove to Snoqualmie Pass, not knowing what we were going to do. Snoqualmie Mt? Keech...

This morning we drove to Snoqualmie Pass, not knowing what we were going to do. Snoqualmie Mt? Keechelus Ridge?

But the weather at the pass was nasty, so we decided to start at the Pratt Lake trailhead. Then we decided to check out road 5510 going to Humpback Mt. just to see how much snow was still on the road. To our suprise, we were able to drive all the way to the gate, where we parked the last time we attempted this hike on Jan. 22, 2006.(with Hiker Jim and Sadie's Driver). We did not make it to the summit previously, because we ran out of time. Anyway, we decided to give it a try again today.

We easily found the orange and pink tape (and lopped trees) this time. The tape is very close to the ground, and last time we were there was buried in snow.

It was no problem to follow the route, but was still a battle getting through the brush. So after gaining 800ft. above the road, we were wet and miserable. At this point the brushed thinned, and it was easy to follow the ridge in the forest. However the summit was still 1200 vertical feet away.

The last 75ft. to the summit are very steep. We removed our snowshoes and pulled out our ice axes for the finish. Unfortunately, there were no views today.

We ran into a back country skier near the summit. He returned to the road by heading West down the open slopes. This could be a much nicer winter route if the snow is stable. We should have tried this route on our descent, but chose to retrace our tracks instead.

El Gain: 3260ft.

Distance: Approx. 8 miles RT

Time: 4 hours up, 2.25 down

 
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Snoqualmie Pass -- North Bend Area
Snow on trail
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Weather: pretty good - a few snow flurries. Trail conditions: very icy trail from about 3500' to ab...

Weather: pretty good - a few snow flurries.

Trail conditions: very icy trail from about 3500' to about 3700', then crusty snow from then on.

Companion: Amy.

 
Blowdowns, Mudholes, Water on trail, Snow on trail, Bugs
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We got anxious to try out some new gear and so we headed for Lake Diablo to get on the Thunder Creek...

We got anxious to try out some new gear and so we headed for Lake Diablo to get on the Thunder Creek trail. I know we were crazy considering there was a 60% chance of rain, but we had rain gear. We planned on staying a night at McAllister Camp - about 6.5 miles up stream.

The trail was mostly some nice ups and downs with only a modest 600ft gain to McAllister. My altimeter however, recorded all of the gains and said that we actually did about 1400 vertical feet. Interesting. It took us about 3.5 hours to get to the camp site. We only came across 2 people on the entire trip! We had the big site for the 3 of us too. It was 38 degrees before we got in our tents and it was lightly snowing at around 6:30 am. COLD! We still had fun though and got some sore legs too. There were some skeeters that would find you if you sat still long enough, but not too bad. There was more snow than we would've liked but it was never constant - just open areas. Mud, blow downs and water on the trail weren't too bad either. A nice early season hike/camp.

 
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Olympics -- West
Water on trail, Snow on trail
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Last year at this time we managed to hike up to the Chalet at Enchanted Valley in one day. This trip...

Last year at this time we managed to hike up to the Chalet at Enchanted Valley in one day. This trip was a little bit different. There were over 50 trees/big branches that were covering the trail, water about mid-calf deep in on part that was difficult to get around without getting wet, and snow after O'Neil's Campground that gradually accumulated to about 3 feet. If you plan on doing this hike I would addan extra day to what you normally do it in. We had to stop about 1.5 miles from the Chalet due to snow and loss of light.

 
Olympics -- South
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Dayhiked the Lower South Fork Skokomish on Saturday. Left Shoreline 3:55am and with two brief stops ...

Dayhiked the Lower South Fork Skokomish on Saturday. Left Shoreline 3:55am and with two brief stops arrived at trailhead 6:05 AM. By the way, road 23 repeatedly slumps along its length not that it is dangerous but looks like just a matter of time before pieces drop off. Hit trail around 6:20am. Trail is straight up for a few hundred yards but then levels off and proceeds downhill to groves of enormous trees. First miles of trail are gorgeous woods, mossy bigleaf maples and rows of giant douglas firs. Much more rainforest-like than the north Skokomish. Nice campsites around mile 1.5 - 2. Trail is in good shape with typical debris for this time of year, a few streams to hop, and a few larger trees at mile 5.5 where the trail curves around the 200 foot bluff. Sunny day so I had chances to view upstream to Church Mt, Wonder Mt, Chapel peak. Would have made nice pics if I could figure out how to not overexpose. Chapel peak pic attached for what its worth. Series of aging, picturesque bridges with waterfalls between miles 2 and 4. A few snowy patches on trail past Church shelter area. Also, one fir of about 8' diameter that fell over but not on trail making a grand archway. Miles of trail approaching the upper crossing are less spectacular than the first. I reached trail end at busted bridge around 11am. Lunched and lounged until leaving around noon. I trotted most of way back arriving at car 3pm. Maybe 16 miles total; nice early season hike particularly the first half of the trail. A few other parties met in final 2 miles as I returned. Wildlife: not much to speak of though a couple of ravens were croaking near camp at mile 1.5, and also making this odd horn-like sound.

 
Snoqualmie Pass -- Snoqualmie Pass
Snow on trail
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This report is really for xc skiing on Jolly Road under Sasse Ridge. Head towards Salmon la Sac. Fin...

This report is really for xc skiing on Jolly Road under Sasse Ridge. Head towards Salmon la Sac. Find the trailhead about 13.5 miles out 903 from Cle Elum Town Hall. First Ski trail at Lake Cle Elum Look for the stop sign on Jolly Rd. Pass Jolly Rd 100 yards, make a U turn and park on the south bound shoulder, note the parking signs.

Jolly Road has nice scenery with pines and open scenery quite different from typical western trails. We enjoyed the open skies and sunny day (with cloud breaks, heh, heh) Explore the grading landing about half way up for views of Polallie Ridge and the top of Mt. Daniels. The best view point is 2/3 of the way up. Good view of the Lake and river valley. Places to lunch if you bring sit pad. Signs of elk and coyote. Hawks and ravens soar the ridges. Trail continues but gets steeper and more narrow. Sapling crowd the road and block views. Very quiet despite proximity of snowmobiles.

This is a nice trail for skiers between beginning and intermediate levels. The hill is steady and steepens toward the top. Us couch potatoes can do it with breaks. Descending requires some snowplow ability. The hills last for a while. May test your quads.

Trail is non motorized. Starts at 2,000 feet. Viewpoint of Cle Elum Lake is at 3,000. 2.8 miles to viewpoint. Gentle round trip took about 3.5 hours. COuld go quicker.

No avalanche chutes. Today the snow was 4 feet deep at 3,000 feet. Very slushy with signs of heavy melting. SKiers and snowshoers both were postholing. Whump, whump settling noises and cracks propagating from skis and snowshoes. Since the terrain is mild we were in no danger of starting an avalanche.

 
Central Cascades -- Stevens Pass - East
Blowdowns, Snow on trail
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This one has been on my list for awhile so I figured I'd take advantage of the snow while it lasts a...

This one has been on my list for awhile so I figured I'd take advantage of the snow while it lasts and snowshoe around the lake.

There was a sign saying the road is closed at Heather Lake, but at the lot there is no snow on the road. I didn't check out the Pilchuck road but saw many cars headed up that way. Also the outhouse is either flooded or someone really really had to go, the fluid level inside is almost above floor level.

I didn't hit any snow until around 1 mile in and it didn't become substantial until I reached the lake basin after another .75 miles or so. There is a large shattered cedar tree over the trail about halfway in that you'll have to pick your way through and another smaller blowdown to go over but nothing major. The trail is fairly wet from snowmelt.

Arriving at the lake the snow is hardened and packed but if you step off the beaten path you posthole a bit. Snowshoes aren't needed but are helpful if you want to circumnavigate the lake. The footbridge over the outlet has a small narrow area poking out from beneath the snow making crossings a little tricky.

Around the backside of the lake it is hard to tell exactly where the snow ends and the frozen lake begins so I stayed well away. Until of course I broke for lunch and my map slid down the icy snow onto the lake needing a dicey retrieval.

On the descent I saw the usual people in jeans and sneakers, not even a water bottle. I know it's spring, but still at least bring water.

Trip photos at http://www.pbase.com/billcat/hiking/

 
Mudholes
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Today I had the pleasure of hiking two loops totaling a distance of 7.5 miles at Point Defiance Park...

Today I had the pleasure of hiking two loops totaling a distance of 7.5 miles at Point Defiance Park in Ruston. Directions to the trailhead were somewhat vague so I’ll try to clarify them here. At the park entrance off of Pearl Street, stay on the main park road called Five Mile Drive past the Rose Garden on your left and tennis courts on the right. Stay right on Five Mile Drive past the Pagoda. Travel a ways down this road to a sign on your left marking the Rhododendron Garden. Parking can be found along the left side of the road. I recommend hiking both loops clockwise. Both loops, the Outside Perimeter Trail (marked with white squares on signs) and the Inside Perimeter Trail (marked with white triangles) begin just past the covered picnic tables up the hill on the left.

I left the inner loop for last and started with the outer loop which continues to the left at the first trail junction. There are many trail junctions, road crossings, and picnic area traverses on the outer loop and the path is adequately signed at most locations preventing the hiker from becoming lost or confused. At places where the trail isn’t marked, the correct route is generally pretty obvious. The outer loop cuts across the point to parallel the zoo parking on the western side, crosses a picnic area and then travels along the bluff occasionally cutting inland to avoid parking areas. You’ll cross the auto road Bridge Viewpoint about a quarter of the way through the loop with views of the distant Tacoma Narrows Bridge and Gig Harbor with the Olympic Mountains in the background. Towards the tip of the point the trail will merge with the Spine Trail, denoted by white circles, to covered picnic tables. Cross the road and follow the trail signs along the grassy northern portion of the road to the continuation of the trail to the east. The eastern portion of the outer loop is a lot quainter and the sounds of the road have died away. The second growth trees have grown to impressive sizes and the number of trial joggers has diminished. Connect back with the Spine Trail to return to the trailhead.

The inner loop, at 3.4 miles is shorter than the 4.1 mile outer loop. Once major difference between the two loops is that the inner is a lot less populated with those wild humans that were so abundant on the outer loop. I counted twelve on the outer before I crossed a picnic area and gave up. The inner loop follows the same general contours of the road but, unlike the outer loop, it is inside of the road. You’ll cross the Spine Trail near the point and bend south paralleling the road. About three quarters of the way through the inner loop the trail will cut back inward before joining with the Spine Trail bringing the hiker back to the trailhead.

I was able to complete the hike wearing gore-tex pants and a t-shirt with a cotton sweatshirt. The weather was beautiful with partly cloudy skies and clear views in all directions. I got an early start from Port Orchard, around 8:45 a.m. or so, and was done hiking by 1:30 p.m.

 
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The goal for the day was to get out and get the dogs a good run. I had never been on the road that r...

The goal for the day was to get out and get the dogs a good run. I had never been on the road that runs along the east side of Lake Kachess, I was hoping for a summit attempt of Kachess Ridge Pt. 5525. I was unsure what the road condition might be so I brought skis in case the road was snowbound. The road was was not driveable so on went the skis. I have not been on skis in many years, why not ski the 7 miles to where the climb begins? Much to my suprise I got a good rythym going and made to the junction of road 4824 in 2.5 hours. Here I switched to snowshoes which probably are not needed. The road is quite well traveled by snowmobiles. I pressed on until around 3800ft where is was quite apparent that I would neither have the time or the energy to make it to the summit. The return seemed like it would never end, by the time I made it back to the truck I was quite fatigued. The dogs are both feeling the effect today, as I feel quite guilty for nearly incapacitating both of them. 18+ miles 7.5 hours car to car.

 
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The two previous reports for this peak descibe an approach via Marten Creek. Justus S. and I approac...

The two previous reports for this peak descibe an approach via Marten Creek. Justus S. and I approached from the north by way of the Deer Creek drainage. We travelled on the Mountain Loop Highway out of Granite Falls and turned in at Deer Creek Road about 1 mile past the town of Silverton. The road is gated for the winter so we hiked the three miles to the hairpin turn where the road ascends up toward Kelcema Lake. From there we connected with a northwest trending forested slope that goes up toward Viking Horns just east of Long. It was comforting be in the safety of old growth forest and listen to avalanches thunder on the sunwarmed southern slopes of Bald Mtn across the valley behind us. The saddle between Long and Viking Horns had huge cornices which hung 15 feet over our planned route to the summit. The snow beneath our snowshoes still crunched with our footfalls as we were on the shadey north side but the tops of the cornices glistened in the morning sun. If they didn't hold Justus and I would hardly have had time to say ""So long"" before being hit by the slide. We opted for the safest choice which meant losing several hundred feet of elevation gain to drop down toward the basin. Once there we ascended sparsely forested slopes to connect with the ridge that extends NNW toward Bald Mtn. When twenty feet beneath the ridge we took off our snowshoes, put on an additional layer, and switched our poles with the ice axe. The final route was directly on the airy rocky ridge. Some people might opt for a protected roped ascent for this section and I was glad to have put on my helmet as undoing my pack enroute would have caused imbalance in an area where balanced is where you want to be. We summited where a windy top greeted us. The weather for the day was perfect. We expected to be hiking in rain, then snow up high and the blue skies were a welcomed surprise for the day. We watched lenticular clouds develop and expand over the Cascades heralding the rainy system of the next day. I enjoyed the views over to nearby Hall and Liberty as those two peaks are on a mental list for later this year. After a leisurely rest we descended the peak on the southern slope. We kicked firm steps into the snow and after losing 130 vertical feet I switched to a butt glissade which brought us to the basin. We bumped into some snowshoe tracks that we were able to follow to the Marten Creek Trail. The trail dropped us off at the Mountain Loop Highway and the start of a three mile hike back to our car. Elevatin gain; 3,500 feet. Car-to-car; 8 hrs. Distance travelled: 10 miles.

 
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Snoqualmie Pass -- Snoqualmie Pass
Blowdowns, Snow on trail
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A balmy spring weekday and a snowy trail all to myself. What could be better? Annette Lake parking l...

A balmy spring weekday and a snowy trail all to myself. What could be better? Annette Lake parking lot is deep in rutted snow and ice and difficult to get into unless you have high clearance vehicle. Astrid the Subaru did fine. Trail from parking lot to the rail road grade is melting off fast but beware some very slippery icy spots. There are nasty big blowdowns with snaggly branches on either side of the rail road grade. Snow starts in earnest after the grade. Trail is beaten down a bit, but warm winds are softening up the surface. About a mile in there is a very tricky snow bridge crossing held up by downed trees and little else. Further snow melt will render that spot dangerous for awhile. In the trees the trail is fairly well defined and the snow is less deep for the most part and crunchy. In the clearings the snow is soft and wet. I got by with trax and gaiters until the 4th and broadest snowfield when I had to strap on the snowshoes. Easy gliding all the way to the lake which is frozen and snowed over. Somebody evidently skied across the surface, but with the melting, I'd not chance it. Snow around the lake was about 4 feet deep and mushy. Snowshoed most of the way back down. Glorious day, overcast and about 50 degrees, fresh and clean. Up in 2.5 hours and down in about the same. That coffee at New Dawn Espresso in North Bend sure tasted good after today's workout.

 
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Issaquah Alps -- Tiger Mountain
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Don't know who is doing it (Mountains-to-Sound?) but the Preston Trail has been getting the royal tr...

Don't know who is doing it (Mountains-to-Sound?) but the Preston Trail has been getting the royal treatment lately. The trail's start by the DOT facility has been brushed out. New signs have gone up everywhere. Great drainage work has been done on the portion of the trail built on the old logging road, starting at 980'. More brushing along here, too! A few years ago this stretch of trail was so deteriorated as to be nearly unusable--most sensible hikers took what is now called the Lower Bootleg Trail. Now both trails are nice to hike on in differing ways: the Lower Bootleg is more informal, narrower with many twists and turns; the Preston is wider and climbs the hill at a more even grade.

It is amazing how much things have dried up since the January monsoons. A large spring erupting right in the middle of the Preston Trail at about 1400' has completely disappeared, along with the river of water that it was dumping onto the trail.

Above the Middle Bootleg junction at 1580', the Preston Trail climbs at a blistering rate up an old skid road, then levels out as it approaches the summit of a broad ridge, elevation 2000'. The mystery trail crew had been up here, too, brushing and digging ditches. At a local high point I left the trail and explored the ridgetop, looking for a grove of old growth trees hinted at by an old copy of ""Footsore"". I never did find those trees, and numerous fallen logs made travel on the ridge tedious. No views, either. This side trip is not recommended.

I still think the oversteep portion of the Preston Trail above 1580' should be rerouted out of the skid road. The drainage problems will be hard to control on the current trail. One of the nice new drainage ditches that the trail crew dug here has already been trampled flat. When the current steep trail gets muddy, it gets slippery and unstable to hike on. A new tread starting at 1700' to 1800' and descending to the Middle Bootleg trail at a more mellow grade would be just the ticket.

 
South Cascades
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Silver Lake, created some 2,500 years ago by an eruption of Mount St. Helens, is slowly drying up an...

Silver Lake, created some 2,500 years ago by an eruption of Mount St. Helens, is slowly drying up and its once deep waters are retreating and being replaced by lush meadows. This 1.0 mile nature loop located west of Castle Rock in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest near the Mount Saint Helens Silver Lake Visitor Center is a good introduction to the marshlands west of the lake. Parking at the Visitor Center is free and the trail begins near the entrance to the Visitor Center. First, switch-back on a paved path to the first of a series of informational signs highlighting important and interesting events surrounding the creation and utilization of Silver Lake. The first sign talks about the creation of the lake. From here, the pavement ends and the trail becomes packed gravel and runs parallel to the parking area and the marsh. About a quarter of the way through the hike, the trail bends out toward the marshlands and travels over a plank walkway to an old railroad grade serving as a buffer for the marshlands from the wind and waves of the distant lake. Along the left railing of this walkway is a plaque reflecting on the 57 people who died in the May, 1980 eruption of Mount Saint Helens. The path follows the old railroad grade built years ago by logging companies hoping for an easier way to harvest timber from the surrounding hills. The next informational sign talks about how past peoples have used the lake from hunting and fishing to recreation. As the trial weaves along, another plank boardwalk will come into view but not before you stop to read another sign titled “Neighborhoods Merge In A Mosaic Of Life.” Traverse the second boardwalk as you return to the Visitor Center. Yet another reader board on the left railing of this boardwalk titled “One Of The World’s Richest Habitats” is an interesting read before returning to your car.

Even though this hike is nothing more than a short walk, it’s a good leg stretcher for those traveling I-5 from Portland to Seattle or vise-versa requiring a short 10-mile detour from the freeway. It may also serve to further one’s desire to travel further up Highway 504 to the Coldwater Visitor Center. All in all, the weather was damp with light rain. I was able to complete the hike wearing gore-tex pants, a t-shirt and a gore-tex shell.

 
Water on trail
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This 7.3 mile loop in Silver Falls State Park, Oregon’s largest park, is one of the state’s main...

This 7.3 mile loop in Silver Falls State Park, Oregon’s largest park, is one of the state’s main attractions. The trail through the north section of this 8,706 acre park brings the hiker past 11 majestic waterfalls ranging in height from 27 to 178 feet. The loop actually consists of two separate trails, the Canyon Trail and the Rim Trail best hiked clockwise from the parking area near the South Falls Lodge. There is a three dollar entrance fee for day use visitors; however, we were able to walk to the parking area from our cabin in the central park area. Just past the Lodge, turn left onto the paved, wheelchair accessible, Canyon Trail. A short paved detour branching off to the left brings you to the top of South Falls, 177 ft. high. Return to the main trail as the pavement ends and drop down into Silver Creek Canyon. A short spur trail near the first switch-back leads 50 yards to small Frenchie Falls. Return to the main trail after viewing this waterfall and stay right as the path loops behind South Falls at 0.2 mile. I had to don a gore-tex shell here to keep dry from the frothy spray of the falls. From here, the trail will parallel the South Fork of Silver Creek before climbing and then switch-backing down the hillside on a crafty set of stairs, arriving at Lower South Falls, 93 ft., at the 1.0 mile mark. The path again loops behind the falls and climbs the opposite hillside to a signed trail junction with the Maple Ridge Trail at 1.3 miles. Stay left downhill with the Canyon Trail and hike to a footbridge across the North Fork of Silver Creek. At 2.3 miles you will pass Lower North Falls at 30 ft. Continue with the Canyon Trail and turn left at a spur trail just before a bridge crossing Hullt Creek.This 0.1 mile detour will lead you to the largest falls in the park, Double Falls at 178 ft. Return to the main trail and turn left, crossing the footbridge before arriving at Drake Falls at 2.5 miles and 27 ft. An observation platform provides a prime viewpoint of the falls. At 2.7 miles Middle North Falls at 106 ft. comes into view. A spur trail to the right brings you closer to the falls, however, the portion of this trial passing behind the falls is closed. At 2.9 miles, stay left with the Canyon Trail at a junction with the Winter Trail. The Winter Trail leads 0.5 mile up to Highway 214 and the Rim Trail. The Canyon Trail will continue another 0.3 mile to Twin Falls, 31 ft. high, at 3.2 miles. Hike nearly another mile along the North Fork of Silver Creek before arriving at North Falls, 136 ft., at 4.1 miles. The trail loops behind this waterfall through a massive basalt cavern and climbs up to a parking area at 4.4 miles. Take the detour underneath the highway bridge another 0.2 mile to Upper North Falls with a height of 65 ft. at 4.6 miles. Return via this same trail to the junction with the Rim Trial at 4.8 miles. Stay left with the Rim trial as it parallels the highway 0.9 mile to the Winter Trail junction at 5.7 miles. For a view of Winter Falls, turn right, downhill on this trail, as it switch-backs close to the falls. Once back on the Rim Trail, travel another 1.6 miles as it borders the highway and crisscrosses the Bike Trail back to the Lodge at 7.3 miles.

The weather held for the entire hike and remained mostly cloudy to complete overcast. I was able to complete the hike wearing gore-tex pants and a cotton t-shirt with the occasional application of a cotton sweatshirt and a gore-tex shell. The trail conditions were exceptional ranging from pavement to packed dirt and gravel.

 
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Blowdowns, Washouts, Snow on trail
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I hiked in to Monte Cristo lakes yesterday with my dog Daisy. We went in from the Darrington side af...

I hiked in to Monte Cristo lakes yesterday with my dog Daisy. We went in from the Darrington side after finding out there was too much snow on FS 49 to reach N Fk Sauk river. We drove to where the Mtn Loop hiway ends just a little ways past Bedal campground. We picked our way past the washout on the little trail that has been formed, and headed off down the road. The road started out a mixture of snow and bare gravel, then quickly turned to all snow. It was very pleasant walking, with lots of big trees, nice, mossy camping spots, the river right there, and of course the great weather. Each individual camping spot has it's own name. We passed South Fork, Twin Peaks, Tyee Pool (my favorite), Mill, Elliott Creek, and White Deer. Lots of blow-down, some were huge trees, but none pose a real problem to get by, as the worst are all easily bypassed at one end.

As we ascended the massive elevation of 500 vf to the lakes, the snow got deeper and deeper. It topped out at around a foot. It was firm for walking, with snowshoe tracks and some other footprints to walk in to cross some deeper/softer areas. A short way past Elliott creek, we passed the other end of the washed out section and the jersey barrier that blocks it off. We then were walking on snowmobile tracks, people coming in from the Granite Falls side, which made the going easier. The lakes themselves are unspectacular, more beaver ponds than real lakes. One of the MC lakes is really just a slow spot in the river's current. We went over to Myrtle lake, but didn't go to Lost lake. It was good just to see blue sky.

By this time we had gone just over three miles. We walked back starting at 5:15, kept up a steady pace, and were back at the car at 6:45, still with plenty of good light.

It might be worthwhile to do another hike up this way and visit Goat lake. It has become much more remote since the road washout. It is not too far, just 6.5 miles each way, plus 1,900 vf.

 
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Snoqualmie Pass
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I haven't been up Mt. Margaret in the winter in 20 years due to other obsessions. I was dreading the...

I haven't been up Mt. Margaret in the winter in 20 years due to other obsessions. I was dreading the snowmobiled roads, so when about 200 yards from the parking area, I came to a fork, I took it. The fork was a very nice snowshoe track that unfortunately eventually went the wrong way, but I came to another fork and took it, a traversing line of snowshoe tracks which led to a logging road on the opposite side of the Rocky Run drainage from Mt. Margaret. At least, I now knew where I was, or wasn't. This logging road with no snowmobile tracks eventually crossed the drainage. I saw snowshoe tracks going straight-up through an old clearcut with small trees and followed them until they ended on another logging road high on the west slopes of Mt. Margaret. Going straight up from there didn't seem feasible, so I followed the heavily snowmobiled logging road to the south and east until I saw tracks heading up into a clearcut which looked like it would take me toward the summit ridge. It did, but I was amazed to see snowmobile tracks so close to the lower summit of Mt. Margaret. I had the mountain totally to myself with excellent views in all directions.

 
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Olympics -- North
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My younger (23) daughter and I had breakfast at The Oak Table in Sequim, then headed for Dungeness S...

My younger (23) daughter and I had breakfast at The Oak Table in Sequim, then headed for Dungeness Spit to burn off those calories. Left the car at 10:20AM and made it to the lighthouse at 11:54AM. Incredible weather, scenery and company. It's always a joy to hike with one of my girls.

 
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What an day for a first real try at BC skiing. Trailcat arranged the outing. Joining were SuzanneR, ...

What an day for a first real try at BC skiing. Trailcat arranged the outing. Joining were SuzanneR, Rubberlegs, MtnMike, Eileen, Todd, and FayP.

We drove up Foss River Rd until snow stopped us (somewhere around 1600'). Then we donned ski and skins and headed up the road. It was steady uphill climbing. Nearly 3000' gain to get us to the small saddle south of Sobieski Mtn. From here the plan was to head to Maloney Knoll (Pt 4640+) for a late lunch and views. Well, there weren't too many views. That's OK. We found a small patch of sun to eat lunch at. MtnMike and FayP had early headed off to tag the highpoint on Maloney Ridge. We thought maybe we'd see them back at the car at the end of the day. After lunch is was quite eventful trying to turn and dodge trees. I obviously need more practice turning. After lots of fits and starts I finally made it back to the saddle to the wide eyes of the rest of the group. I made the decision to make my retreat down the road. I had no idea how long it would take me but I knew it would be low going. The rest of the crew that remained headed off to Sobieski Mtn.

It was a frustrating descent for me trying to find my ski legs in the often crusty and icey snow. I made it back to the agreed upon meeting area down low (about 3000') but after waiting 20 minutes I started to get chilled. I decided to head the rest of the way back down to the car. I figured the rest of the group was sure to swoosh by me on the way back to the car. At about 2000' Todd and Eileen caught up with me as the light was fading. We skied out the remaining few miles in darkness on an icey, crusty and thouroughly tracked road. We got back to the car at 7:30PM and right behind us came the other 3 wearing headlamps. MtnMike and FayP were nowhere to be seen.

We drove off at 8PM knowing MtnMike and FayP would be just fine as they are quite seasoned mountaineers. Besides, this was just the first out by headlamp trip of the year. I'm sure it won't be the last.

Monday I got emails from the two adventurers saying that they had indeed made the highpoint...at 5:10PM. They got back to their car at 10:30PM. Yikes.

Stats: somewhere around 10.5 hours, 12 miles, 3000' gain

 
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Snoqualmie Pass -- Salmon La Sac/Teanaway
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Phenomenal views towards the top. We took the longer route as we forgot to bring the map with us and...

Phenomenal views towards the top. We took the longer route as we forgot to bring the map with us and got confused trying to get to the trail. We parked at Newport Creek, walked south along the road, crossing Davis creek, and then took the road on the leading up to the Sasse mountain trailhead. From there we followed the main logging road up following the most beaten path. At about .6 mi, there was a fork in the road (bear creek loop), and we stayed left. We continue on following the main road for another ~1.5 mi until we hit some parking area/trailhead. From there we followed the signs to Sasse ridge/Mtn through a logging road and then hit the actual trailhead for Sasse Mtn. Then the climbing was steeper and if you follow that you will hit the summit in about 1 hr, with a couple of short downhill sections. The views were rewarding throughout. It was a mostly sunny day, and not windy except at the summit itself. We didn't have to use snowshoes at all, and we only ran into a one group of snowmobilers

However, it sounds like there's a more direct route if after parking at Newport Creek, you walk north along the road for a bit, before getting onto a logging road on the right. This is judging from the map and previous trip reports. Get a better idea of the way from the parking lot to the summit from the other trip reports and a topo map with the loggins roads.

 
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There's plenty of snow on the Mount Tahoma Ski Trail system, one of the best venues for nordic skiin...

There's plenty of snow on the Mount Tahoma Ski Trail system, one of the best venues for nordic skiing reasonably close to Seattle. Of course, many (perhaps most) people snowshoe instead of ski on the trails, but frequent grooming by enthusiatic volunteers keeps the surface of the trails smooth for everyone. And use of the system is free if you have a snowpark permit.

To get to the ski trail system, drive to Ashford near the south (Paradise) entrance of Mt Ranier park. The turnoffs to the south and north trail systems are located about a mile west of Ashford. The roads are often poorly plowed to the snowparks, and 4 wheel drive is can be helpful. Two wheel drive cars will need chains. Allow about two hours to drive from the Seattle area to the Tahoma ski trails. More information and snow conditions reports can be found on the Web.

On Saturday, I visited the south area, which has a huge network of trails, as well as two huts and a yurt that you can stay in overnight. Due to the snowy and cold weather we have been enduring, I could drive only to the lowest snowpark at 2300'. Snow cover was good right from the parking lot. The trail up to the Snowbowl Hut as relentlessly steep, gaining 500 feet per mile. I got a good cardio workout going up and a stern test of my snowplow ability going down. Snow conditions were fabulous at 4000' near the hut, with subfreezing temperatures and good powder snow. Tele skiiers were having a blast doing turns in the open slope below the hut.

The ""huts"" are rather luxurious and well equipped with kitchens, lighting, and heat. Looks like a fun place to stay overnight.

From the Snowbowl Hut, I enjoyed a fast and fun descent, despite some icing of the road surface that occurred late in the day. I was glad I had metal-edged skis! Near the parking lot the snow surface was a more forgiving slush.

 
North Cascades -- Mountain Loop Highway
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Don’t be disappointed by the beginning of the trail – the gravel roads will soon give way to a n...

Don’t be disappointed by the beginning of the trail – the gravel roads will soon give way to a narrow track that winds through hemlocks and ferns along Hubbard Lake. We enjoyed hearing the frogs singing today. Spring can’t be far off! The real fun begins once you reach the old railroad grade and start looking for the artifacts that line the trail. We saw the first skunk cabbage of the season as well.

We stopped for lunch and photos at the lime kiln. No time today to go all the way to the end of the trail, but this is a trail we’ll hike again another day.

We enjoyed our hike along the E & MC RR so much we’re planning a hiking “trilogy” of sorts. The Old Robe Trail on the north bank of the Stillaguamish is next, and we’ll hike into the Monte Cristo town site once the snow melts.

 
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Snoqualmie Pass -- North Bend Area
Snow on trail
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Left the car at 9:15. The sunlight of a clear day through the woods was lovely. Encountered icey-sno...

Left the car at 9:15. The sunlight of a clear day through the woods was lovely. Encountered icey-snow at 2,300 feet, at which point, donning crampons, we were glad to have been fully equipped. Out of the woods the snow balled enough to warrant removing crampons. At the top, the view was wide (though most of Rainier hid in clouds). The mailbox extends about a foot above the snow. Crampons made the descent comfortable and efficient. A fantastic day. No more than a dozen others (and a dog). All conditions were preferable to the heat and crowds of summer.

 
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Snoqualmie Pass -- Snoqualmie Pass
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Trip summary: A glorious day - wonderful panoramic views - couldn't be better. Approach: Ascended t...

Trip summary: A glorious day - wonderful panoramic views - couldn't be better.

Approach: Ascended to Olallie Meadows from last switchback of Lake Annette Trail. Then to summit.

Snow conditions: Nearly ideal. Powder snow over more consolidated base. Snowshoes sunk in only 3 to 5 inches. A tad of ice beneath powder for the final couple of hundred yards before the summit.

Companions: Sally, Amy, Jim.

 
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Olympics -- East
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Only made it as far as the lower trailhead today. Snow on the forest road will stop most vehicles fr...

Only made it as far as the lower trailhead today. Snow on the forest road will stop most vehicles from getting closer than 3-4 miles from the lower trail head (I have a subaru). However, the sun was out and conditions were changing by the time we got back. Maybe in a couple of weeks we can make it to the lower trailhead by car. Snowshoes are a real help walking up the road.

Note there no longer is a forest service station in Hoodsport to check with, and the one in Quilcene did not have any current info on conditions.

 
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Central Cascades -- Stevens Pass - East
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This was by far the best snowshoe trip of the season, so far. The weather and the views could not ha...

This was by far the best snowshoe trip of the season, so far. The weather and the views could not have been better.

We met Jim k. and Gary at the ""trailhead"" of Smithbrooke Road. Bob and I booted it on ahead, while Jim and Gary were on skis. We made good time on the packed road, and waited for the guys at the second switch back.(They were delayed by too many photo stops).

At this point we all went to snowshoes, and headed West-Southwest, climbing through the forest. Fortunately, someone else had already broken trail.

At about 4700ft.( 1 mile from the road), we broke out of the trees. We continued heading West to the base of high point 5747 (Mt. McCausland). From here on we broke trail to the summit through mostly open slopes.

Views were great as we climbed, and got even better at the summit. Next to us was Lichenberg Mt. To the North we could see Glacier Peak, Union, and Jove. To the SW were Mt. Daniel and Hinman. And to the East were Rock Mt., Howard, just to name a few. A spectacular day!

Distance: 9 miles RT

El. Gain: 2600 ft.

Time: 3:15 up

2 hr. down

 
Mudholes, Water on trail
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Plan A was the Boucher trail, Grand Canyon, but the weather forecast wasn't favorable and we had bee...

Plan A was the Boucher trail, Grand Canyon, but the weather forecast wasn't favorable and we had been denied a permit so we went to plan X, which was to head towards Zion and play it by ear. We arrived as a stormy cycle was beginning and so decided to stay in a cottage at Clear Creek Ranch on the east side of Zion to wait for better weather. Saturday morning we headed to Zion for dayhiking. The approach from the east side revealed exciting colorful slick rock formations and threatening clouds and so we decided to stop the car and hike a bit before the rain started. The kids were in awe of the unusual

colors and majestic cliffs and were clearly having an aesthetic experience as we scrambled up a slickrock hill. A rumble of thunder, some snow droppings, and apprehension about descending steep icy slickrock chased us back to the car. We headed through the tunnel and into Zion Canyon, which looked impressive even in the sleet. We drove to the visitors center to wait for a break in the weather, then headed up the Watchman trail for a picnic. Afer a couple hours it began raining again and the trail got really muddy and slippery so we turned around and went to the natural history museum to wait for the next break in the rain. We then headed up the Angels landing trail. This trail has incredibly engineered switchbacks and is not muddy, and gave us great views even in the rain. By the time we got to refrigerator canyon it was snowing hard. My daughter found some dry sandstone caves to explore and we waited in there for a while before deciding it was only snowing harder so we turned back.

Next morning we awoke to about 6 inches of snow. After building a snowrabbit, making crazy tracks and a snowball fight we decided we were going to go nuts if we didnt go camping so we packed up, checked out and returned to the visitor center to get a permit for 3 nights in Coal Pits Wash, which is the lowest elevation backpacking trip in the park. We were heartened by clearing skies.

The trip began in chilly sunshine heading up a broad desert valley next to a creek that looked like chocolate milk. On either side, in front and behind were red cliffy mountains highlighted with snow.

After a couple of miles Coal Pits Wash branched off from Scoggins wash and entered a narrow canyon. The next couple of miles involved countless stream hoppings and boulder scrambles but we managed to keep our feet dry. I cant resist bragging about the balance, jumping and climbing skills of my 8 and 12 year old, either of whom can handle any kind of cross country travel at least as well as me. The wash was running high with silty water and lined with dormant Cottonwood and Aspen, as well as brilliant green manzanita, juniper and pinyon. The canyon opened up after a couple of miles and we found a sandy campsite by a small waterfall with glorious views of the Towers of the Virgin, Cougar mountain, the Altar of sacrifice and Mt Kinesava. As far as we could tell the area is very lightly used and we were the only campers for miles.

The next day we woke to what appeared to be clearing weather, but during the day we experienced everything from sunbreaks to brief hail storms. The wash was running clear so we filled up our 5 gallon container in case it were to return later to the previous days' silty condition. We hiked upstream for about 4 miles, continually having to jump the stream, and passing the ruins of an old oil well. During one sunbreak the kids went swimming, then a half hour later we had on all our rain clothes in a hail storm.

Tiring of continually craning our necks to admire the snowy red cliffs, when we found a doable slope we scrambled up to a bench just below the snow line and enjoyed an expansive view.

During the night it rained pretty hard but it was only drizzling when we began the next days hike. We intended to follow the Chinle trail to its high point, then try and climb the flanks of Mt Kinesava and admire the petrified forest. The hike began pretty difficult as about 5 pounds of mud quickly accumulated on every ones' boots. By the time we had gone a couple of miles it was coming down hard mixed rain and snow. I was beginning to worry about how to keep the children warm and content that night in freezing weather with their boots and clothes wet. We returned to the campsite for a warm lunch in the tent, packed up some incredibly sodden muddy gear, and headed out.

The wash was now running very high with muddy water and it was snowing hard. The route finding was tricky, the creek too broad to jump in many places, and soon everyone's feet were wet and cold.

At about 3 the weather started to clear, and we had reached the lower, broad wash. Now the only obstacles were the mud, and creek crossings. We barely made it up one particularly steep hill when we heard voices and saw a party of 4 young men heading out. They told us their tents had leaked and they had cut short their trip due to near hypothermia. We were surprised to see that someone else had been out and asked which wash they were coming from. They replied grimly ""The muddy one"". For amusement we stopped to watch how they did on the mud slope we had just barely made it up. The first one made it up with a running start, the second almost did then slid all they way back down.

By the time we were back to the car there were definite signs of clearing weather. By the next morning there was frost on the ground in St George but barely a cloud in sight. We had already changed our reservations to fly back to Seattle however.

The current Zion weather report is glorious for the next week and I recommend that anyone with the freedom to be spontaneous hop on a flight to Phoenix,Las Vegas,or SLC, rent a 4 wheel drive and hike somewhere in the canyon country this week!

We had a good trip even in usually bad weather and plan to return to the southwest for a hiking trip every spring. The scenery is awesome.

 
Clogged drainage, Mudholes, Water on trail
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From the park entrance, follow the main park road past the viewpoint and the off leash dog area in t...

From the park entrance, follow the main park road past the viewpoint and the off leash dog area in the central park and the equestrian parking on the right hand side. Just past the main campground road turn right into the gravel parking area and the trailhead. There is a three dollar parking fee that you must pay when entering the park. From the parking area we followed the trail that branched from the end of the lot slightly to the right. The vast network of trails in the park can be confusing to navigate and even we got misguided at one of the trail junctions. Stay with the equestrian trail to form a nice 4.5 mile loop throughout the southern portion of this 951 acre park. You will first loop around the campground through second-growth forest before beginning a gentle climb up a muddy forested slope. Eventually the trail will break out of the woods and parallel a large field used primarily by equestrians. Note the large barn in the distance. Here comes the tricky part; once past the access road to the equestrian parking area, make your first sharp right at the next trail junction. If you decide to continue straight as we accidentally did, you will traverse a hillside beside the highway and above the field, looping around to the large barn that you saw in the distance. The trail will border the field bringing you back to the equestrian parking area. After you have made your sharp right you will ultimately break out into the grassy area in the central park near the main park road. The equestrian trail will run along the back of the field and turn downhill at the off leash pet area. Begin a slow traverse down the hillside bordering the park road at times. At a signed switch-back in the wooded area above the river, turn left towards the fish hatchery and continue on this hikers only trail. You will pass the south corner of the hatchery and loop back over a bridged stream before being emptied out into the Riverside Picnic Area. Pick up the equestrian trial near the Boaters’ parking and stay right at the next trail junction uphill back to the parking area.

The trail conditions were not very conducive to those wearing tennis shoes and I would not recommend it as we encountered very muddy conditions. Considering this trial is used primarily by horses, this is not surprising. The weather stayed cloudy the entire time and I was able to complete the hike wearing jeans, a t-shirt and a denim coat. The scenery was enjoyable and was a good introduction to the varying ecosystem above the Clackamas River.

 
Issaquah Alps -- Tiger Mountain
Mudholes, Snow on trail
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Name the three worst ice cream flavors. No? How about the three worst body parts to have massaged. C...

Name the three worst ice cream flavors. No? How about the three worst body parts to have massaged. Can’t do it, right? There may be “least favorites,” but no such thing as “worst.” With that in mind, I identify my three least favorite trails — they are all on Tiger Mountain. This isn’t all the Mountain’s fault. I read a description for a “West Tiger Rambler” route in the guidebook, then looked at the Green Trails map and decided to make some modifications. Plus, I made my share of navigational errors.

I arrived at the trailhead (easy access just off I-90 at exit 20) at 8:00 am, with a dozen cars already there. Segment by segment:

-- Tradition Plateau trailhead to Poo Poo Point trailhead (1.1 miles): I have nothing bad to say about this portion of the hike. The Bus Trail is a wide gravel trail, and the Gas Line Trail parallels the Bonneville Trail through a grassy, somewhat muddy area — but without that powerline hum and crackle.

-- Poo Poo Point trail to West Tiger Railroad Grade trailhead (2.8 miles): The first half is fairly steep without switchbacks, and the bulk of the elevation gain to get through the rest of the hike comes here. Trail workers have taken great care carving in trenches for the water to head down the side of the trail — it was remarkably water and mud free.

-- West Tiger Railroad Grade trail to junction with Section Line Trail (1.6 miles): Least favorite no. 1. Muddy, narrow trails, with awkward climbs and drops through creek beds, and trip hazards in the form of steel railroad tie spikes. Gaiters would have been useful. I saw no one — if you want solitude, this is the trail. Note: the junction with Seattle View Trail, 1.3 miles from Poo Poo Point trail, is unsigned but fairly obvious to the right.

-- Section Line Trail to West Tiger Mountain No. 3 (0.4 miles): Least favorite no. 2. There’s a sign 50 feet from the junction that says “UNMAINTAINED TRAIL.” I would add to that a sign after another 50 feet that says “WHAT ARE YOU, NUTS? GO BACK DOWN AND CONTINUE ALONG WEST TIGER RR GRADE TO JUNCTION WITH WEST TIGER NO. 3 TRAIL AT 0.5 MILES, AND YOU’LL AT LEAST HAVE SOME SWITCHBACKS!” It’s steep, folks. There was some snow over the final few feet — not enough to slow you down. At Tiger 3 summit, saw a dozen people, and lots of fog. Nice picnic spot.

-- West Tiger Mountain No. 3 trail to junction with Tiger Mountain Trail (TMT) (0.2 miles by the map, 1.0 the way I went!): My biggest navigational error. With snow on the trail, I didn’t believe the trail sign that told me that TMT was really to the left. Plus, I was curious about summit no. 2. So, I continued the 0.2 miles to the top, admired the radio towers, then searched for the connector trail to the TMT to the east. Not finding it, I should have checked the map, but instead continued down the maintenance road. 0.3 miles later, I came to the junction with summit no. 1 trail and figured out I had gone way too far. Time to backtrack to no. 2. Still couldn’t find the link from no. 2 to the side trail to the TMT. I went back to the proper junction below no. 2 and trusted the signage. I was the only one here, too.

-- Tiger Mountain Trail to Tradition Plateau trailhead (4.7 miles): Least favorite no. 3. Up, down, mud. OK, that’s harsh, but that’s what my rubber legs remembered the most. The trail is mostly forest, and has several nice crossings over High Point Creek and tributaries. Your inner self might begin telling you that you’ve missed a turn, and have somehow doubled back and are doing the same route over. You’re not. On the lower section, listen for the sound of I-90 traffic — you don’t hear that on the upper portions. My main complaint about the TMT is the condition of the trail — as the namesake route, I guess I expected it to be the best maintained. As the sun started coming out, I thought I would see more and more people. There were just 10 or so the whole time, and all headed the other way. I have to allow for the possibility that I had a bad experience because I took the route counter-clockwise.

So it ain’t Rainier. But it’s an hour’s drive from the house, and a good workout with some respectable elevation changes over 80 miles of trails. (I brought four layers of clothing and wore three; four liters of water and drank 3.) Will I go back? Of course! Revisiting the map, I can see a great 16-mile through hike from Tradition Lake to Tiger Mountain Road SE via the TMT. Even I can eat maple walnut ice cream in a pinch!

 
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Olympics -- Coast
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March 18-19 Some good late winter weather for a trip to Sand Pont, Yellow banks and south. Seems li...

March 18-19

Some good late winter weather for a trip to Sand Pont, Yellow banks and south. Seems like much less sand on the beaches than in the past. Very sparse, trashy camping at Yellow banks. This years clean up crew will be very welcome.

NOTE: They are now charging a $15 entrance fee at Ozette since Jan 1., much to my suprise. Only a small sign annoces this and if you are used to seeing the kiosk at the parking lot, you will just walk past it. Then they leave a ticket on your windshield with your license number and time of violation.

 
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North Cascades -- Mount Baker Highway
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easy to lose the trail, lost it a couple of times... made it as far as 3800'. Welcome pass was not ...

easy to lose the trail, lost it a couple of times...

made it as far as 3800'. Welcome pass was not as welcoming as I would have hoped...

 
North Cascades -- West Slope
Blowdowns, Snow on trail
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Trail was mostly clear of snow. Lake was low. Buds are starting to show. Be very careful on the ""lo...

Trail was mostly clear of snow. Lake was low. Buds are starting to show. Be very careful on the ""log"" bridge as it was covered with snow/ice. While crossing two of the small streams, both daugther and myself took a bath by slipping on rocks and landing in the water(she went in one stream, myself another)Wife never did fall in. Several small trees across trail at various locations and trail was blocked somewhere around 4 miles by a larger tree. Only ran into 2 grps of people. One lady that went passed us near the 610/606 junction and very soon came back (probably due to the ""log"" bridge being abit interesting to cross) and another grp of six people coming up the 610 trail later on in the day.

 
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We didn't want to go too far as the mountains looked ominously clouded so elected for a ferry ride a...

We didn't want to go too far as the mountains looked ominously clouded so elected for a ferry ride and a Sound walk. Much has been said about Ebey's Landing, but we were unprepared for the stark beauty of this 3.5 mile loop. We hiked it counterclockwise climbing the bluff first and meandering north. The douglas firs are wind swept and the vistas are magnificent. We could see out the Strait of Juan as far as Port Angeles and made out the New Dungeness Lighthouse with binoculars. At the half way point, the trail drops abruptly to the beach and we had a nice amble back looking at rocks and occasionally poking through the driftwood pile at the high tide mark to look at the impounded lakes behind them. A very nice late winter walk indeed. On to Rock Fish restaurant in Anacortes for beers and food.....(yum)

 
Snoqualmie Pass -- North Bend Area
Mudholes, Snow on trail
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This one is for the direct, straight up the side, almost comically steep trail up to the top which I...

This one is for the direct, straight up the side, almost comically steep trail up to the top which I had no idea existed.

We parked at the Teneriffe road trail expecting a long slog to the top. Surprise! We're taking the short route. So off we went along the road to this short trailhead. We reached a creek crossing and entered the woods, basically following the creek until we got to the ridge line.

In between it is steep and narrow with lots of rocks and roots. Higher up we hit a layer of ice and on went the YakTrax (or crampons). Quickly the snow became deeper and this covered up the ugly trail. We reached a ridge spine and followed this upwards. Eventually we broke out of the trees and made a few short switchbacks to the summit. Up top there was a big cornice so we popped up for some photos and descended a ways for lunch.

The descent was hair raising to say the least. Plunge stepping through the snow was easy enough, but in the trees the ice and very steep tread made things tricky. Eventually we had to take crampons off and worked our way down slippery roots and rocks. Partway down I slipped, body going forward, arm with pole going reverse, and torqued my shoulder hard. After a short rest and some aspirin, and some forceful rebending of a pole, I continued on slowly.

Eventually we got back to the road grade and were very happy to see level terrain. I'd take the long route over this one any day. Trip time was probably about the same due to the very slow going on the slope.

Trip photos at http://www.pbase.com/billcat/hiking/

 
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It's the 93rd anniversary of Washington State Parks; everyone hike for free today! Took my short-leg...

It's the 93rd anniversary of Washington State Parks; everyone hike for free today! Took my short-legged nephews out for a stroll. It's a long mile to the bridge over the river. Look up and down for mossy, wet views. Drop down to the 'treehouse' overlook. Mild complaining did not deter from the all time favorite 'throw all the rocks back in the river'!

2.5 miles R/T, about 3 hours away from the car

 
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Snoqualmie Pass -- North Bend Area
Snow on trail
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Started at 8:45 am from trailhead for the top. drippy wet. encountered snow on trail appox. 2.5 mile...

Started at 8:45 am from trailhead for the top. drippy wet. encountered snow on trail appox. 2.5 miles from trailhead. snow to the top, with it being about 4"" inches at top. Otherwise OK. encountered a work party on way down, said ""thank you"" to them for maintaining the trail.

 
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I love Spring Break. This year I took my sons to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Friday, 3/...

I love Spring Break. This year I took my sons to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Friday, 3/17: Drove to Cades Cove Campground. The Deer are tame and one can walk right up to them for a picture. This day's plan was to hike 1.6 miles up the Anthony Creek Trial, and then 3.5 miles up the Russell Field Trail to spend the night at the Russell Field Shelter on the Appalachian Trail. The 1.6 miles on the Anthony creek Trail was easy by any standards; the streams beautiful, and the forest serene; the elevation gain was minimal. The 3.5 miles to the Russell Field Shelter was grueling, most of the ~3,000 feet of elevation gain this day was this portion of the trail. Like many trails in the park, this one gains elevation quickly to find a ridgeline that it can follow until it intersects the AP. Views were nice from this ridgeline trail. Russell Field is an interesting site, as are all ""field"" designations in the park. The field is meadow created from some settlers clearing the area before it was a park. The Russell Field Shelter is basic: 3 walls, roof, fireplace, and 10 sleeping slots. A nice change from packing a tent. Overnight a heavy fog moved in with 20 degree temps and deposited a half inch of hoar frost on the trees; an amazingly beautiful site. when frost began melting it came down like snow! Saturday 3/18: We hiked an easy 3.1 miles on the AP to Spence Field Shelter. Spence Field is stunning with views of the Western Smokys and surround mountains. A truly beautiful Meadow. The Shelter at this site is first class; big, sleeps ten, nice fireplace, a cooking area outside, a skylite in the roof, an area to tie up pack horses, and an outhouse! My sons especially loved the outhouse. The thing that amazes me on the AP is the springs; you follow a ridgeline and there regularly are springs to get clean water from. Every shelter has a spring nearby. Sunday 3/19: Left the AP and followed the Bote Mountain Trail to pick up the Anthony Creek trail back to Cades Cove. This is the shortest leg of the trip, about 5 miles. It drops all of the hard gained 3500' of this hike very quickly. We dropped back into the thick Rhododendron forests we encountered on the way up. More nice streams. Near the trailhead I came within 4 feet of a doe blacktail deer. Notables on this trip: the Russell Field Shelter had a fence across the fence to keep out bears (saw sign but no bears), Hoarfrost was a once in a hiketime experience, and the people I met. The AP through hikers: Sticky and John (Russell Field); John has terminal cancer and was hiking the AP for the last time. A couple from Florida who had bad eating habits (eating and cooking where they slept... the bears will come...). Mary who was hiking south, she wanted to be get a real job when she gets back to Georgia (wants to be a masseuses, but offered no massage). All in all a great spring trip.

 
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Central Cascades -- Stevens Pass - West
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Snowshoed with a my buddy MattA today to the summit of Mount Persis (slightly west of Mount Index. W...

Snowshoed with a my buddy MattA today to the summit of Mount Persis (slightly west of Mount Index. We drove as far up the logging roads as possible before reaching some ice and snow on the road. Near the area we parked we began hiking the drainages running off the backside of the mountain. Hiked about a 1,000' until we ran into the road and found old snowshoe tracks. The tracks dipped into the woods marked by some red flagging in a tree. Snowshoes came became a necessity. The trip up was steep the whole way. At about the 3,000' we were trudging through several feet of snow. Snow was falling from this point on. There was one break of snow about 20min for the summit and we were able to see some spectacular views to the south. The clear skies ended before the summit and there was much to see at the top becuse of clouds and snow. Very windy. The trip took us nearly 6 hours from leaving the car to getting back to it. Legs felt like jello at the end. Tough hike, but a great day! Made it home to watch a bit more March Madness. Go Dawgs!

 
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Snoqualmie Pass -- North Bend Area
Snow on trail
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Leg PWR's report from March 12 summed it up nicely. Lots of melt since then. Trail is clear and easy...

Leg PWR's report from March 12 summed it up nicely. Lots of melt since then. Trail is clear and easy all the way up to the 3 ledges. Very strong wind this morning so I did not venture out onto the ledges until my return trip. Trail has icy spots beyond third ledge and my Trax did their job quite nicely. Solid snow starts about 200 yards up from the 3rd ledge and gets 3-4 foot deep by the time you reach the East Tower. The trail is well beaten down, however, so I did not need gaiters until the second clearing past the snag pile. It was gaiters and Trax all the way to the East Tower. Could not find the bench to sit on there, so I stomped out a place in the snow and sat on one of my jackets and ate my lunch. I took the road on the way back to the second clearing and used snow shoes. It is lots of fun and I made easy time. 3.5 hours up and 2 hours back - and that's with frequent clothes and gear changes.

I noticed that there has been extensive trail work and realignment just before the snag pile. While I applaud the work of WTA's hearty volunteers (I am one, after all), I hope that that's the limit of work on that part of the trail. The section from the 3rd ledge, past the snag pile, and the little clearing up to the larger clearing is a charming and magical section of trail that should not be messed with. After all, not all trails are constructed to WTA standards. Some are created by hobbits and this winding little foot path is one of those. It is barely two boots wide as big people's boots go. It twists up hill and down dale, through the darkened forest and around the mossy rocks. It is my favorite section of the whole Rattlesnake Ridge traverse.

So go on up there, the trail is open for hikers! Just don't be surprised if you meet Bilbo Baggins around a corner, humming a little hobbit tune.

 
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Snoqualmie Pass -- Snoqualmie Pass
Snow on trail
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This was my first winter trip up Bandera, after probably 20 summer trips. Road from I-90 is 95% snow...

This was my first winter trip up Bandera, after probably 20 summer trips. Road from I-90 is 95% snow covered and a little slippery; 4wd or chains but not both. Trail is snow covered from parking lot to summit. Snowshoes helpful once the trail leaves the road grade about 2 mi in, but prior tracks showed they weren't necessary. Once into the clear area below the summit, the route follows the old Bandera trail: in other words, straight up with no switchbacks. I didn't see any tracks turning left toward Mason Lake. Around 4500' at the steepest part of the trail, the snow was quite firm and a bit slick on the way up. At the ridgeline, snow was fluffy and snowshoes were mandatory for the last couple hundred feet vertical east to the summit. On the way down, I took off my snowshoes and plunge stepped, since it seemed more secure on the steeper section than relying on the snowshoe's crampon. For about 100' of vertical I could barely kick my heels in, and I was wishing I had brought my ice axe and not just poles. Below this, the snow got soft (sun was out for nearly 2 hrs) and snowman sized snowballs went racing ahead of me. Not warm enough for sluffs, and no evidence of recent avalanches anywhere in sight. If the road remains accessible and the snow is stable, I'll try and go again this season.

 
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Issaquah Alps
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Enjoyed a long ramble in the DNR's Marckworth Forest. The area lacks much in the way of exciting vie...
Enjoyed a long ramble in the DNR's Marckworth Forest. The area lacks much in the way of exciting views or dramatic scenery, just low rumpled hills with trickling creeks and bogs. At least on weekends when the log trucks are parked, the area is almost eerily quiet, being far from freeways or public roads of any kind. I followed the Stossel Creek logging road, which heads south into the valley of Stossel Creek. The creek is crossed after a half mile. Shortly beyond the creek crossing, an old road (now pretty much a trail) leading to Swans Mill Pond branched off right, blocked by boulders. The small and tranquil lake is a worthwhile side trip. I passed two old junked cars, then arrived at a grassy clearing by the shore of the lake, nice and sunny, a pleasant place to linger.

Back on the logging road, I now climbed quickly out of Stossel Creek's valley and into a tranquil side valley. More bogs and creeks here. At a major junction, I took the right branch. A long mile beyond Stossel Creek, the road began another rapid ascend through a recent clearcut which offered a view toward Tiger Mountain. Then it started turning northward. The road leveled off at about 1200', passing though forest that had endured various kinds of logging operations: clearcuts, selective cuts, and thick forests marked with signs that indicated that the juicy trees were ripe for the chainsaw. After 5 miles, seeing not much change in the scenery, I gave up and turned around. The whole walking experience here was both dull but strangely satisfying, the peace and quiet putting me into a zen-like state of serenity.

To get to Stossel Creek, drive to Stillwater Store on SR 202 south of Duvall. Turn onto Kelly Creek Road. Stay right at the major intersection where Big Rock Road goes left. At another major intersection, just past the Tolt Pipeline access road, turn right onto Stossel Creek Road. Eventually this turns to dirt next to a Marckworth Forest display sign. Continue about a mile farther, to a spot where gated logging roads go left and right. Park here. The right hand gate (on the south side) is the access to Stossel Creek.
 
North Cascades -- Mountain Loop Highway
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Snow! Snow! Snow! Snow! Snow! Dry and cold, with 4+ feet of the fluffy stuff at the lake, the sky ...

Snow! Snow! Snow! Snow! Snow!

Dry and cold, with 4+ feet of the fluffy stuff at the lake, the sky clear and blue, and me finally remembering the camera. I lassoed, lassood, lasoo'd, um.....ROPED all the kids into joining me, and even the 17-year-old, once up there deigned to set aside his cool for some play in the drifts. Probably the most beautiful I've ever seen the lake. Even Miranda, my ten-year-old who has swallowed a dictionary, exhausted her superlatives. She actually said that -- ""I've exhausted my superlatives!""

I'm DEFINITELY gonna have to take up snowshoeing so I can get off the track. Those guys in the distance were having too much fun for me not to try it.

 
Mt. Rainier -- SE - Longmire / Paradise
Snow on trail
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Two days in Paradise. The first day was for ice-axe training and a trip up to Panorama Point. Unfort...

Two days in Paradise. The first day was for ice-axe training and a trip up to Panorama Point. Unfortunatley there was no time for the Panorama snowshoe so a return trip was in order.

We arrived at Paradise sunday to sunny skies, lots of skiers, and the mountain in full view. We put on our snowshoes and headed down the unplowed road towards the Paradise valley. There was a packed down snowshoe trench the whole way. On the descent we passed a few empty snowcaves dug into the steep hillside. The walls of Mazama ridge across the valley were swirled over with ski tracks.

After crossing the creek we headed up towards the ridgetop following the many snowshoe and ski tracks, feeling the high altitude as we went. Soon we were on top and greeted with miles of untouched snow. A single ski track went along the ridge top while all the snowshoe prints headed out towards Van Trump monument.

We paralleled the ski track along the ridge top heading for Lost Lake. The snow was deep and fairly soft. Every step I sunk in halfway to my knees. I'd hoped for a break from trailbreaking this trip after last weeks adventure.

About halfway across the ridge the clouds started coming in and we lost the mountain. It started snowing as we descended down to the intersection with the Reflection Lakes trail. From here the trail is signed either to the lakes, Narada Falls, or to Paradise. We opted to make a loop and followed the Stevens Canyon road up to the Narada Falls trail, and from here up the hill to Paradise. This last .8 miles is fairly steep, compounded by the high altitude affects.

Soon we were back at Paradise and the mountain came back out as we arrived. We packed up the snowshoes and pulled out the snowboard for a quick run. We fought our way up the hill to the lodge - and quickly found the snow was too soft. Back down onto the flattened road for a quick run.

Trip photos at http://www.pbase.com/billcat/hiking/

 
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Fellow wta hikers trailcatjim, rubberlegs, Fay P., Randy B., Craig B., putz-in-boots and I joined up...

Fellow wta hikers trailcatjim, rubberlegs, Fay P., Randy B., Craig B., putz-in-boots and I joined up for this outing. The peak was chosen as the recent snowfall atop an icy layer crust increased the risk of avalanche activity. Our route would be on forested slopes for most of the upclimbing allowing for a safer atmosphere. We drove on SR 20 and turned left onto the Bacon Creek road. We then drove several more miles until stopped by deep snow about 1/3 mile from Jumbo Creek. It was disconcerting to leave the car at 600 feet elevation as after driving for three hours the jumpoff was 200 feet less elevation than my driveway at home. We hiked for about 1/4 mile on an adjacent logging road (6210?)before heading directly upslope for 1000 feet of gain through a clear cut area. The slope had moss covered talus made even more precarious on the downclimb as it was all loose. We put on snowshoes at ~1600'as the final 4,000 feet of gain necessitated their use. We travelled east, then ENE, and the final 200+ feet of gain on a north route. I was fatigued and dropped my pack some 500 feet vertical beneath the summit to ease the workload. Elevation gain; 5,000 feet. Car-to-car; 8 Hrs. Distance travelled; 4.5 miles

 
Snoqualmie Pass -- North Bend Area
Snow on trail
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This was my first time on the reconstructed trail, and I noticed the sign at the new trailhead indic...

This was my first time on the reconstructed trail, and I noticed the sign at the new trailhead indicating it was 2.0 miles to Rattlesnake Ledge. I got a late start, but the weather was worth waiting for. The sky was blue and the sun was shining, making it seem warmer than it was. I encountered minimal ice on the trail about a quarter mile short of the ledge; it was melted by the time I headed down. At the junction (just shy of the ledge), I noticed the older sign indicating it was 1.5 miles from the trailhead. The new trail didn’t seem like two miles, but maybe it is. It is well constructed, with wide tread to accommodate the heavy traffic it receives, including runners and many dogs.

My main goal was the East Tower, at 4 miles. After a quick stop at the ledge, I headed up past the first promontory, then beyond. Here I encountered the only blow-down on the trail. There was about four and a half feet of clearance though, easy to duck under. Shortly after here, ice covered the trail. I stopped to get out my trekking poles, thankful that I had brought them. I bypassed the upper promontory, eager to find snow. The ground was mostly white already.

Soon the snow cover was solid, and I reveled in the solitude, quiet, and sheer beauty of it. At about three miles I took the photo of a snow-laden limb overhanging the trail. Beautiful. Along the way, I tried to gauge the depth of the snow. Still ¾ mile from the summit, I saw a 3-foot trail marker almost buried. I estimate there was four to five feet of snow at the East Tower. Visibility was excellent, although Mt. Rainier was obscured by clouds.

On the way down, I put on my snowshoes and kept them on for well over a mile. They weren’t necessary, but I used them to pack the powder snow higher up, and to get good traction in the lower areas which had gotten icy. All in all, this was the perfect hike for a day of perfect weather.

 
Blowdowns, Snow on trail
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Sadie was antsy to get out on the trail this beautiful Sunday. With a couple of friends joining her,...

Sadie was antsy to get out on the trail this beautiful Sunday. With a couple of friends joining her, the requirements were ""not too steep."" The driver figured that Granite Lakes was a good choice - moderate elevation gain, a nice long walk and no avalanche risk. There was a lot more snow - and several new ""blow downs"" - than when we were here a month ago - but snowshoes weren't required until you reach the ""Y"" in the road to drop down to the lakes - this would be at 3200' and about 4+ miles. The snow was very firm at 9:00 a.m. - still in the shade for the most part. However, at 3200' the snow was softer and more like powder. It appeared that one other snowshoer had ventured out this far since the last snow dump on Friday. The lake was now completely covered in snow and likely solid enough to walk across - we didn't attempt it. We had a nice lunch at the edge of the lake and then headed out to break trail to go to the lower lake (to the north). The weather was spectacular - in fact, by noon it was so warm, jackets and hats were coming off. We cross-countried back to our original snowshoe tracks and back out. Kept our snowshoes on to about 2200' since the snow was so soft. Saw a couple headed up when we were about 2 miles from the car. This is a great trip for 2-legged and 4-legged creatures. Nothing difficult about it - just a constant, steady, gentle up-hill grade for about 2200' of gain. To get there, it's the same direction as Mailbox Peak: take I-90 to the Truck Stop Exit (#34) go North at the end of the exit ramp (left if coming from Seattle; right if coming from the east) - go about 1/2 mile (just past the gas stations) and turn right on the Middle Fork road. Go about 3 miles (don't worry - the road splits, doesn't matter which branch you take, they meet back up in about 1 1/4 miles). You may see a lot of cars parked on your left - this is the parking area for Mailbox Peak - today it was jammed full and there were cars parked across the street at the actual start of the Mailbox trail! Bet it was icy at the top of Mailbox early today. Go about 200 yards farther down the road and on your right will be a dirt road with a gate. There is enough room to park about 3 cars along this road - if there's no room, go back to the Mailbox parking area and walk the short distance to the start. Go around the gate and just follow the old logging road all the way. When you reach 3200' and the ""Y"" in the road, take the right branch and continue heading east/southeast towards the upper lake. You will see another right branch about 1/4 mile in - if you take this branch, you will reach the lower lake first. Doesn't really matter, you can go whichever direction you want and make a loop out of the trip. Excellent trail for those seeking a good work-out without a lot of steep climbing and avalanche dangers - it's also a good look at the backside of Mailbox, Harry's balcony, Defiance and other peaks. Probably not nearly as pretty in the summer due to clear-cutting. Perfect trip for today's group. Sadie is now resting comfortably - the 2-legged group did about 11 miles, while the 4-legged adventurers probably did about 15 miles!

 
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Snoqualmie Pass -- North Bend Area
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Looking for a different destination for backcountry skiing brought me and two friends to Pratt Mt. W...

Looking for a different destination for backcountry skiing brought me and two friends to Pratt Mt. We drove towards Talapus Lake trailhead, making it about 2.5 miles up the road before parking. The last 2 miles of road required chains and careful driving as the road was slick. Left the car at 8:30am, and skied about a mile to the true trailhead.

The trail was well packed and easy to follow all the way to the lake. There is a small log crossing the outlet stream near the lake. This is a bit tricky this time of year and can be bypassed by staying on this side of the stream, following the stream bank to the lake, then crossing the outlet on a series of snow hummocks. The lake looks like it's starting to melt on the edges.

We cut a path from the lake up to the SE ridge of Pratt and followed the ridge to very near the summit point. Dropping off the east side, we found beautiful deep powder and some heavier crud. Negotiated open slopes and very steep narrow passages through trees to about 4,200 feet, then worked our way back to the ridge north of Talapus and back to the lake. The tree skiing was interesting as always.

We saw lots of evidence of other travelers near the lake but never did see or hear anyone else all day. Back to the cars by 5pm. Those heading to Pratt Mt. might want ice axes, as there are a few steep and narrow sections along the ridge with many cornices.

 
Central Cascades -- Stevens Pass - West
Snow on trail
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I needed something nice that wouldn't take all day, and this hike fit the bill. The drive is short, ...

I needed something nice that wouldn't take all day, and this hike fit the bill. The drive is short, just past Index on Rt 2. The hike is short, only 1.5 miles each way, with around 1,000 ft elevation gain. But the views are quite good if the weather cooperates, which it did. There is some snow on the trail, but only a few inches, no need for gaiters. If you are afraid of heights, you might not want to climb the lookout tower. It is very tall, maybe 100 ft to the very top. The lookout itself is locked up, but there is an observation platform directly underneath the lookout. Bring some warm and windproof clothing if you plan on hanging out for very long.

 
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Central Cascades -- Stevens Pass - West
Snow on trail
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We wanted to get out and enjoy the great weather, but both Dean and I were feeling a bit out of shap...

We wanted to get out and enjoy the great weather, but both Dean and I were feeling a bit out of shape so we chose Barclay and Eagle Lakes as a moderate snowshoe. Fortunately, we took my high ground clearance 4x4. In spite of that, we couild only get to within about a half mile of the trail head. It was cold and all the snow stayed up in the trees where it belongs. The trail to Barclay is in perfect condition. The trail up to Eagle Lake, well, is there a trail up to Eagle Lake? Anyway, we persevered and made it up in deep snow to have lunch inside the Eagle Lake cabin, which was buried under 12 feet of snow. It was another glorious day in the mountains.

 
Snoqualmie Pass
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Have not skied up Mt Margaret in a few years and definitely did not ski it last snowless year. Park...

Have not skied up Mt Margaret in a few years and definitely did not ski it last snowless year.

Parked at the eastern end of the plowed access road with the, ahem, snowmobiles. Headed east on the road and at the first creek, followed existing broken track UP the forest and UP the slope leaving for the moment any snowmobiles.

The snow was quite fine and the track through the forest reasonably angled with some slippery exceptions, particularly on some kickturn corners. The temperature was great for climbing - cool with dappled sunlight. The track pretty much headed up with some switchbacking.

Not far from the summit what seemed like many hours and 3,000 feet later, our benefactors actually approached us from the rear - they had broken the track on Sat and came but to enjoy their handiwork again today. And they had already been up today and skiied down about 1,600 feet and still caught us. We were slow.

Climbed some hairy wave formations hanging out over the back side of Mt Margaret. Skins were balling up (and later the skis). Hit one summit and headed back down to a less precarious lunch spot. Enjoyed the views, did not have to put on fleece as the sun was FINE.

Finally, dropped the skins and headed on down traversing and dropping and balling up in dry snow which caused a fast face plant.

After a bit more balling up, I parafinned the bottoms and had better luck - I was on WAX skis. My partner with patterns also balled up more often.

The snow got heavy and we were tired and the sun heavied the snow, making out 3-pin turns a bit more sluggish.

About 2/3's way down, the various nicks and gouges in my poles over years of slamming them into the side of metal-edged skis finally succumbed and the pole broke pretty cleanly. At that point, I leaned to one side on a very short, duct-taped pole.

Finally down.....

Great, tiring day. My friend had never been all the way up Mt Margaret and I had not been there in a while.

 
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Snoqualmie Pass -- North Bend Area
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The summit of Mt. Teneriffe is bare and beautiful, but it takes some effort to get there. Today the...

The summit of Mt. Teneriffe is bare and beautiful, but it takes some effort to get there.

Today there was a good trench to the saddle at the end of the road. We donned our snowshoes at around 3500ft.

The last mile (after the road ends) to the summit is steep in places, especially the last pitch above the trees. We could barely see snowshoe prints from the last person on the route. Jim K joined us today, so with 3 people there now is an easy to follow track. If there is any chance that the snow might be hard or icy, bring crampons and ice axe for the final portion.

For more information, see Miller's report from March 7th.

 
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Issaquah Alps -- Cougar Mountain
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This was a forest walk loop trip from starting in the new Talus development area and looping around ...
This was a forest walk loop trip from starting in the new Talus development area and looping around AA Peak and back.

The trails were all in good to excellent condition with little mud. The sun was great and warmed the area. Patches of snow still existed around AA Peak but there was no snow on the trails.

I had walked this area about 4 years ago when the roads were going in for the Talus development. The access point then was the AA Peak Trail Head. The Talus development will offer new access points to Cougar Mt. Park but does require navigation skills. Our driver along with several others in the group got lost going back to Issaquah.

 
Olympics -- Coast
Blowdowns, Mudholes, Mud/Rockslide, Washouts, Overgrown
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Spent 3 days on the Olympic wilderness beaches between Rialto and Norwegian Memorial. Most of the tr...

Spent 3 days on the Olympic wilderness beaches between Rialto and Norwegian Memorial. Most of the trails over headlands and the aids (wire ladders & ropes) have been heavily damaged by recent storms. All headland overland routes in this area are passable but many are mud scrambles or worse. One of the most challenging is the wire ladder on the south slope of the headland between Norweigan Memorial and Cedar Creek. The wire on one side is missing from the midpoint down. (But deer come down this hill with no aids and so can you - just be careful). Some of the usual campspots on the bench just north or Cedar Creek are unusable because a recent storm covered them with large driftwood logs.

The old trail from Norweigan Memorial to Lake Ozette will be impassable in a few years. It is now marked at the beach side as an ""unmaintained route,"" which is accurate. Lots of blowdowns to climb over and under, very brushy toward the lake and puncheon across the swampy bits rotting. The bay at the lake ozette end is now a reddy marsh and probably impssible to get into by boat. The old dock is rotting and sinking into the marsh.

Don't let my report discourage your from going. I had a great time, in the sun(!).

 
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Snoqualmie Pass -- North Bend Area
Snow on trail
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Set out around 10AM from the 1/4 full parking lot under mostly clear skies with ambitions of snowsho...

Set out around 10AM from the 1/4 full parking lot under mostly clear skies with ambitions of snowshoeing to Teneriffe. The typical mix of humans and canines were present on the mountain. The Mt Si trail was in good shape and fairly dry to its midpoint. Spotty snow and slush posed no problems until ~3000', where the heavy traffic and cold nights had produced an icy packed layer. Sunshine failed to warm the freezing air much, but did manage to trigger frequent showerings from the snow-laden trees above. I pushed my luck too far and received one moderate cascade before donning a jacket and cap. Ice gave way to packed but still slippery snow in the last 1/4 mile.

Multiple groups were attempting the dangerous scramble up the haystack. Westerly views of Seattle, the Sound, and Olympics were stunning, but light snow squalls were threatening along the I-90 corridor. The boot track sunk into the snow up to several feet in places, and deeper in postholes. Finished a light lunch under the watchful eye of the camprobbers and light flurries.

A fresh snowshoe track departed the haystack East toward Teneriffe. I soon caught up to the two female trailblazers enjoying a meal. ""We're not sitting in the trail. It ends here!"" Pushed on Eastward and soon found an older track, completely covered in places. Followed it to near halfway to Teneriffe, but turned back due to the late start and the increasing but still light snowfall. Instep crampons made the revisited icy sections more enjoyable. Definitely recommend carrying some form of traction device.

 
North Cascades -- Mountain Loop Highway
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Snow shoed Deer Creek 4.16 miles each way and just over 1500 feet of elevation gain. We went from th...

Snow shoed Deer Creek 4.16 miles each way and just over 1500 feet of elevation gain. We went from the mountain loop highway to the Lake Kelsima trailhead. This is a great location when avalanche conditions are bad. We had a beautiful day and were joined by a few other snowshoers, but an entire busload of cross country skiers.

The road is plowed to about 200 yards past the deer creek road which is closed to motor vehicles in winter. This makes an outstanding winter playground. The bus full of skiers is unusual, but it is a great cross country place too because of the long moderate slope. There are plenty of views of surrounding peaks once you get past the first mile or so of forest. Only 1 blow down (easily stepped around or walked under) A great day with great friends.

 
Mt. Rainier -- SE - Longmire / Paradise
Snow on trail
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Our group of eight snowshoers headed to Mt. Rainier NP for a day in the snowy winter wonderland. The...

Our group of eight snowshoers headed to Mt. Rainier NP for a day in the snowy winter wonderland. The destination was Reflection Lakes from the Narada Falls parking lot. We headed up through the woods from the plowed out service road past the restrooms. As we started in the fresh snow, only two others were ahead of us, two backcountry skiers. We worked our way up to the Stevens Canyon Road to the junction with the Paradise Valley Road. We took the trail over the ridge and down to the lakes, as the road by Inspriation Point looked dicing with all the new snow. It was windy at the lake as we eat lunch. The weather was changing though out the trip, with light snow coming down, the sun coming out, plus clouds blowing around. Clouds covered the summit of Rainier all day. With all of the new snow, we sunk down about 2 feet into dry sugar snow.

We saw a few Gray Jays at the lake and one Pileated Woodpecker working on a tree. Met serveral other snowshoers out for the day and a party that was camping over night with one member pulling a tobaggan with extra gear. It was a good work out in wonderland.

 
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Snoqualmie Pass -- Snoqualmie Pass
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It was great to be hiking with Brent and Matt. This was a long, tough day. We were safe, fun, and su...

It was great to be hiking with Brent and Matt. This was a long, tough day. We were safe, fun, and summitless. Go now, while there is a good shoe track.

Snow right out of Exit 38 Twin Falls parking area. ($5 state park fee) Ran into Paul, unofficial maintainer of this trail. He's been working and clearing this trail for 12 years. Way to go, Paul! This long windy trail follows old logging roads almost the whole way. It's never really steep, and only occasionally brushy. We booted up just past Owl Spot, putting on snowshoes around 3000'. Even with three guys taking turns breaking trail, it was hard work. Many places we sank in over a foot. About four possible avalanche tracks are crossed below the great wall. This was the only place on route where the snow was very firm.

Our navigation error was in believing the summit was the first false summit. Two roads (not on map) head left and right. The trail heads straight up. We hiked way past it, then eventually fought our way up two feet of sugar only to realize our mistake. We tried to traverse our way back to the real summit. Dense trees, cliffs, and way too much powder thwarted us. We backtracked and headed out knowing we would be lucky to get out before dark.

14 miles R/T, 3200' gain, ten hours car to car.

I've heard rumors of a more direct track to the summit in winter. I'd like to hear about it.

 
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North Cascades -- Mountain Loop Highway
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Trail and overall area is still fairly snowy. The actual foot path is packed nicely. I went in my un...

Trail and overall area is still fairly snowy. The actual foot path is packed nicely. I went in my un-water-proof tennis shoes and they were wet by the end but i kept moving so my feet never actually got cold. It was a bit slippery in places where the run-off had melted the snow into slush...beware of this, and step cautiously. I was really happy that we found this trail this time of year, its a winter wonderland, yet everything seems to be slowly melting and trickling.

 
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Olympics -- East
Snow on trail
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This is really a report for the upper big creek loop and the Ellinor Connector trail. Six inches of ...

This is really a report for the upper big creek loop and the Ellinor Connector trail. Six inches of snow at the junction of the connector trail. I made it about a mile up the the Ellinor connector trail and had to turn back because even with my snowshoes I was sinking too much and it was too much work. I was sinking almost to my knees with my 22 inch snowshoes on. It's 6 miles to the summit of Ellinor from the Big Creek Campground. That is something to keep in mind when you can not drive your car to the lower Ellinor Trailhead due to snow.

Upper Big Creek Loop had six inches of snow at the most and it was meltin fast.

 
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Issaquah Alps -- Tiger Mountain
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A quick report to let folks know that at 7am this morning there was snow at the start of the trail. ...

A quick report to let folks know that at 7am this morning there was snow at the start of the trail. My friends and I headed up Nook and Section Line to West Tiger 3. There was about a foot of powder on top. It was absolutely wind free and sunny! On the way down, there was 1-3 inches of slippery powder but by two-thirds of the way down (9am) the West Tiger main trail, the snow had melted and was we were walking on wet dirt.

 
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Snoqualmie Pass -- North Bend Area
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With the recent wild weather I was sure to find plenty of new snow. Crossing Snoqualmie seemed like ...

With the recent wild weather I was sure to find plenty of new snow. Crossing Snoqualmie seemed like an iffy proposition , so I decided to stay close. I was sure to hit some deep untracked snow so I brought extra floats for my snowshoes hoping this would allow me a summit of Mount Teneriffe. I arrived at the trailhead about an hour later than I had hoped but remained optimistic that I would have enough daylight to achieve my day's goal. The weather was calm, much to my suprise. I switched to snowshoes at around 1600ft and added extra float at around 3000ft. Above 3000ft it was a real grunt the snow was deep heavy and untracked slowing my pace. I pushed on to the flats around 4000ft where the Beagle struggled to keep pace. I felt a little bad for the little guy so I called it a day. On the descent it began to snow increasing in intensity as I grew closer to the truck.

 
Eastern Washington -- Yakima
Washouts, Water on trail, Snow on trail
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This is one of the hikes in the Best Desert Hikes Washington book. The book doesn't mention that in ...

This is one of the hikes in the Best Desert Hikes Washington book. The book doesn't mention that in the first 0.5 miles, the trail fords the creek four times. Two of those fords are shallow enough to pick your way across in hiking boots and two of them aren't. Waterproof leggings mandatory.

The book recommends to visit in early spring, and that the 'area in and around the falls is very icy in winter'. True as far as it goes - the trail around the punchbowl is currently sheet ice up and across a 45 degree slope with a long drop onto rocks at the bottom. There was absolutely nothing for the Yak-Trax to get a grip into. Since I was there, I did manage to scramble around the falls bowl by going off path where the snow had mostly melted and hanging onto trees, but it wasn't fun, and I couldn't have got a good view of the falls without serious risk. Currently, I wouldn't recommend this trail without crampons and an ice axe.

Even before you reach the falls themselves, there's a tricky, icy stretch of path which was easier getting there (uphill) than getting back (downhill). In the end, I scrambled upslope to avoid it. The trail's very narrow in a couple of places where the bank has washed down into the creek.

I've done various hikes from the Best Desert Hikes book before, and generally found it to be informative and comprehensive, but the authors seem to have skipped a couple of the most important points on this one. They describe the hike as 'moderate', and in summer they'd be right, but since they recommend visiting at this time of year, a few more warnings about conditions would have been appropriate.

 
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Snoqualmie Pass -- North Bend Area
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Hit snow at 2800 feet and put on snowshoes at 3400 feet. The snow gets deeper the higher you go. The...

Hit snow at 2800 feet and put on snowshoes at 3400 feet. The snow gets deeper the higher you go. The final mile on the summit ridge is through very pleasant open woods. A final steep pitch leads to an open summit. It was snowing and whited-out today, so I just tagged it and retreated to the woods. On a clear day, the views must be excellent.

Even though this is a long logging road trudge--4200 feet total gain in 7 miles and 14 miles round trip--it's a nice winter adventure with a high and wild feel up on top.

 
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Snoqualmie Pass -- North Bend Area
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This morning the weather was beautiful, the trail was snow free and I practically had the entire mou...

This morning the weather was beautiful, the trail was snow free and I practically had the entire mountain to myself. My real surprise was when I got back to the parking lot and noticed a wonderful man picking up all the trash that careless people have left. He had gathered several sacks and had only worked the first section of the parking lot. Apparently he does this voluntarily at several of the trail heads! Isn't it sad that some are so careless to leave their garbage when it would be so easy just to throw it in the car and take it home....

 
North Cascades -- Mountain Loop Highway
Snow on trail
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This hike was pleasant. The trail had some spotty tread problems, but was also very good in some pla...

This hike was pleasant. The trail had some spotty tread problems, but was also very good in some places. We were disappointed that we had to leave our snowshoes behind since there was zero sign of snow at the trailhead. We started to see signs of snow not too long after we hit a huge downed cedar in the trail, probably a little over a mile in. The compacted snow made the trail slick in places, so hiking poles were very helpful. Heather Lake was beautiful – totally snow covered, and you could see the layers of snow on the boulders around the lake … having the appearance of baked muffins or large sedimentary rock. Snowshoes would have been nice to have as we went around the lake, as we easily punched through in boots.

Stats: 1.9 one-way, 850' elevation gain.

 
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Snoqualmie Pass -- North Bend Area
Snow on trail
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Decided on a short trip, with a change. Left a vehicle at the new trailhead and returned to the old ...

Decided on a short trip, with a change. Left a vehicle at the new trailhead and returned to the old trailhead for a Mt Si loop. Yoga companion and I had an uneventful trip up the old trail. It is in great shape, with no running water or blowdowns anywhere to be found. Snow began about 1/2 mile from the junction with the new trail, but the ice never got so bad that you couldn't walk around it. The new trail section was worse, but manageable without crampons if you are determined (and didn't bring them!).

This was the windiest day I've ever experienced on Si. It started in the parking lot, and only got worse at the top. The gusts felt like 60 MPH. 2 hours 20 minutes to the bench, and a quick turnaround. The trip down was not fun. The new trail is extremely icy. You need crampons for this route right now. Our mistake cost us a few painful falls. The trail is clear below the 3 mile marker, and in great shape as usual. Even saw two work crews making it even better. Thanks guys!

 
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We wanted to do a Tiger loop so we parked one car at the Chirico trail and drove to the Preston trai...

We wanted to do a Tiger loop so we parked one car at the Chirico trail and drove to the Preston trail (exit 22 SE Preston Way near the DOT facility). We hiked the Preston trail to West Tiger 1 in a pretty hefty wind. At Tiger 1 we continued to the Paw Print and then picked up the 15 Mile Creek trail to the Hidden Forest Trail which we took to the Tiger Mt Road. We then walked up the road toward PooPoo point about 1 mile to an old road that leads to the Chirico trail which we decended back to car #1. Pretty nice one way trip, about 9.5 miles and 2900' gain. We were blessed with a no rain day.

 
Snoqualmie Pass -- Snoqualmie Pass
Snow on trail
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Dear Opus - thank you for your trail to Mt. Catherine. Your friend, Sadie. Ok, Ok, so Sadie went up ...

Dear Opus - thank you for your trail to Mt. Catherine. Your friend, Sadie. Ok, Ok, so Sadie went up the Nordic Pass trail last weekend - but she never made it to Nordic Pass - her drive was too busy putting up blue diamonds and just didn't make it as far as we hoped. However, today, Hiker Jim, Sadie and I took about 1 1/2 hours to go as far as it took us 4 hours last weekend! This is a wonderful trail for snowshoers as well as skiers. There is low avalanche risk - even up to the top of Mt. Catherine. Start at the Hyak (East Summit) ski area parking lot (approx. 2400') - cross the street and go up Snoqualmie Drive loop (for a detailed report, more pictures, better directions and a map go to www.hikingnorthwest.com). It looked like several people had ventured up the path since last weekend - certainly more people than had used the trail previously. We had little difficulty following the blue diamonds. You gain about 1600' in the approx. 4 miles to Nordic Pass (Pass at approx. 4000'). You're in forest for about 2/3s of the trail to the Pass. Once at the Pass, we went a little farther south on the trail that would eventually end up at Windy Pass - however, we weren't headed all the way to Windy Pass. In fact, just a little beyond the Weather Station (100 yards from the Nordic Pass sign) we followed the tracks Opus had made the day before (March 4th) up the ridge towards the top of Mt. Catherine. Yes, there are some steep parts - but fortunately, the snow was in great condition and made the climb easier. It was a lovely walk through the trees towards the top of Catherine (see pic). There are about 4 ""bumps"" that you go up and down up to the summit - and even some lovely flat spots that make the hike interesting. We followed the tracks all the way to where Opus turned around. Jim attempted to complete the final 40-50' to the top. But the snow was deep and a bit ""slide-y"" so he opted to be happy with getting close. It took us about 1 hour and 20 minutes to go from Nordic Pass to (almost) the summit. It took us 30 minutes to get back to Nordic Pass! It was a quick trip back to the car. Four hours up - 2 hours back. We opted to take the Atlas Snowshoe route back from Hyak Lake to where the trail crossed the blue diamonds again, just above the railroad grade. In all, about a 10 mile hike and about 2800' of gain. It was a great hike - much better weather than predicted - hardly any precipitation - just a tiny bit of snow - much better than the 3"" of snow predicted (or worse yet, the rain that was falling in Seattle when we left and followed us to about North Bend). Sadie didn't mind the trip repeat. After all, any day is a good day when you're on a trail.

 
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This is a brief overview of a fantastic multi-park trip. We will have photos and a more detailed rep...

This is a brief overview of a fantastic multi-park trip. We will have photos and a more detailed report on our website in a few weeks.(www.trailpair.com).

Our main objective was to camp for 2 nights in Chesler Park, Canyonlands N.P. But on our way we also visited Zion, Bryce, and Arches. All are beautiful, but very different.

The first stop was Zion. We had only a few hours to spend here, so chose two short hikes. The first was to Emerald Pools. This was a nice hike, but not exceptional. We then headed for Angel's Landing. Now this one was fun! It finishes with a knife edge scramble with a lot of exposure. Fortunately the footing is good, and there is a chain handrail. We had to turn back about 1/4 mile before the summit, due to lack of time.

Later in the afternoon we arrived at Bryce Canyon. We only had time to stop at the view points. This is a small but impressive canyon, and we will definitely want to return.

A nice thing about going to the SW early in the season is that there are no crowds yet. Later on, you can't drive in Bryce or Zion. Shuttle transportation only. There is still snow at Bryce, since its rim is at 8-9,000 ft.

The next day we drove through Capitol Reef, and on to Arches N.P. We only had the afternoon, so took 3 short hikes to the most famous arches.(Landscape Arch, Delicate Arch,Windows). This is also a small park, but awesome.

After spending the night in Moab, we drove 2 hours to Canyonlands N.P. to pick up our permit.(Note: reservations were not needed so early in the season). We car camped at Squaw Flats, and the next morning started our hike into Chesler Park, carrying enough water for 1.5 days. The whole trip is breath taking! Chesler Park was more beautiful than expected. There are 5 campsites, and all are great. We were the only campers in Chesler Park!

The next morning we did a 6 mile RT to Druids Arch, going up Elephant Canyon. This is where we filtered water out of a stagnant pool, the only water available for miles! It tasted pretty bad, but Kool-Aid camouflaged it.

We returned to our camp at Chesler Park for a leisurely afternoon.

We hiked the 6.2 miles back to the trailhead the next morning, enjoying the scenery again on the way out.

This is a great desert hike, and a nice break from the NW rain.

 
North Cascades -- Mountain Loop Highway
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This weekend the trip was made up of Dave, Rubberlegs and myself. The plan last night was to do Wile...

This weekend the trip was made up of Dave, Rubberlegs and myself. The plan last night was to do Wiley Ridge. But considering that we had a good weather day we changed plans somewhere around Verlot to The Eaglet (Pt 3802 which is the high point north and between Heather Lk and Lk Twenty-two). What a beaut!

We parked at the Heather Lk TH and left about 9am. We followed the trail until about 1400' and then headed up a duff and twig covered steep hillside. We were following the NW ridge of the peak. It's gorgeous forest once you get out of the old clear cut section. There are huge trees (or were) in there. One was so large that it had at least a dozen springboard notches cut in the remaining stump. Once out of the old clear cut we got into some older and larger trees. At some point a few hundred vertical shy of the top we popped out of the trees and holy moley...the views. At a couple of points the ridge gets quite exposed and only required us to be very careful. Only once did I back off, drop down, and thankfully the others joined me to skirt the exposed section. Then once again on the ridgecrest we got our views back!

This was a beautiful ridge walk all the way to the highpoint. We had a birds eye view of Heather Lk, Lake 22, and Mt Pilchuck. They looked quite stunning.

Rubberlegs poked around looking for a route to the small saddle at 3300' between the two lakes but it was hard to tell if it would go so we followed our tracks back to the car.

Stts: About 4 miles, 2500' gain, 5.5hrs.

 
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Olympics -- East
Blowdowns, Water on trail, Snow on trail
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This being my fourth time completing the hike to Lower Lena Lake, it was probably the most memorable...

This being my fourth time completing the hike to Lower Lena Lake, it was probably the most memorable. About 85 percent of the lake was frozen and snow covered. The end of the lake near the campsites at the beginning of The Brothers Trail was clear as was the creek emptying into the lake. This moderate hike is quite popular on the weekends and warm summer days where overnighters abound. The people are sometimes so numerous prompting national forest officials to build an outhouse near the lake. The trailhead is located off Forest Road 25 on the right. The road is paved the entire distance to the trailhead and there are no obstacles permitting virtually any passenger vehicle access to the trailhead. A parking permit is required to park at the trailhead and may be obtained at the 76-station in Hoodsport for five dollars.

The trail begins at a registry and switchbacks repeatedly up the hillside. Lena Creek can be heard down the gulley to the east. At 1.4 miles you will cross a dried creek bed over a hefty wooden bridge. Lena Creek at this point is under the ground beneth you, blocked years ago by huge boulders falling into its path which actually created the lake above. From here, the trail switchbacks up the hillside and passes a rock promontory on the right allowing views of approaching hikers from below. Up the trail a little ways further, a massive rock outcropping towering over the trail can be seen on the left. Moss drapes from this rock and water drips continually upon the ground beneath. The trail crosses a bridge again over Lena Creek, this time on the top side of the ground. From here, keep on the main path as it contours above the lake before reaching a signed trail junction at 2.1 miles. The trail to the left leads to Upper Lena Lake. Stay to the right onto Chapel Rock overlooking the southern end of the lake. From Chapel Rock, the trail crosses a creek and drops to lakeshore campsites. At 2.7 miles (3.2 miles according to Blair's book), you will encounter another junction in the trail. The signed trail to the left, again, leads to Upper Lena Lake. We decided to keep to the right and cross a sculpted footlog over Lena Creek (technically a different creek than the one below the lake but oddly enough called the same), and make our way to the north shore for views of the length of the lake.

The weather cooperated for our hike and I was able to complete the journey wearing shorts with gore-tex pants over them, a t-shirt and a cotton sweatshirt. There were a few places of snow covering the trail, especially so around the lake itself, but gaiters weren't needed. There was one other car at the trailhead upon our arrival and around four upon departure.

 
Central Cascades -- Stevens Pass - East
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Arrived in perfect weather at Deception Pass at about 11:00am. Had no idea how much hiking there was...

Arrived in perfect weather at Deception Pass at about 11:00am. Had no idea how much hiking there was to do here. Under the bridge is a series of trails that lead several directions, including down to the water. At the State Park, I walked toward the bridge along the shore, around portions of Cranberry Lake, and toward Oak Harbor on the shore. Probably walked around 5 or 6 miles total. Decided to stay and watch the sunset, as interesting clouds were forming over the Olympics.

 
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Olympics -- North
Blowdowns
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Despite the report of 85 blowdowns between Whiskey Bend and Elkhorn we decided to brave the Elwha Ri...

Despite the report of 85 blowdowns between Whiskey Bend and Elkhorn we decided to brave the Elwha River Tr because we needed a weekend away but didn't want to deal with snow camping. Fortunately the information from Olympic NP Wilderness Info Center is quite out of date. We did encounter ~ 20 blowdown in the 13 miles to Elkhorn, but all but 1 was easily stepped over, under, or around. There is one large tree down between Canyon Camp and Elkhorn that required us to remove our packs and crawl underneath, otherwise it was smooth sailing all the way. The ranger at the WIC also indicated we could expect snow anywhere above 1000'. The high point of the trail is ~2000' between Lillian and Mary camp and that hasn't seen snow for quite a while. Our best guess from looking across the valley is that snow starts about 3000' in that area. We did encounter ~ 10 elk as we approached Elkhorn RS and a small group of mule deer on the way out around Michael's cabin. After pitching camp at Elkhorn we walked on to Remann's cabin 1.5 miles further. The rangers at Elkhorn say that Tipperary camp has been washed away but the trail is OK at least as far as Hays Guard Station at 17.5 miles, which is as far as they went.

This was a great choice for getting in some mileage w/o dealing with snow. Despite the lack of elevation gain (1300' at Whiskey Bend, 1600' at Elkhorn) there's enough up and down to make the legs tired. Trail crews have done a good job of building the trail so that it doesn't hold water even though it was raining steadily at times as we left.

 
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Central Cascades -- Stevens Pass - West
Blowdowns, Snow on trail
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It had been a couple of weeks since I'd been out, and Saturdays weather was just too nice to pass up...

It had been a couple of weeks since I'd been out, and Saturdays weather was just too nice to pass up. So I decided to hit Bridal Veil Falls for a quick outing.

The first part of the trail follows an old jeep road. There is one tree across the path, but it is easily passed. There is a LOT of erosion on this stretch, with one big sink hole, and several others in the making.

Took the turn off at 2 miles to go up to the falls. There is a small patch of snow just before you get to the falls. It is highly compacted and VERY slippery.

The falls are perfect right now, plenty of water, a little snow/ice around the base. Very nice.

Ate lunch, lounged around for a little while, then returned. Nice trip.

 
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Olympics -- East
Snow on trail
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We had to park 1 mile from the lower trailhead because the road was covered with snow from there on....

We had to park 1 mile from the lower trailhead because the road was covered with snow from there on. Up to that point, however, the road was easily accessible. That was in part due to a group of hikers before us that cleared the road from debris and trees.

The day was wonderful with a clear blue sky, partially due to the chilly temperature of 34 degrees.

The entire trail was covered with snow. Forested areas had about half a foot of snow. In open areas, we actually sank in up to our thighs! Due these implications, we didn't make it any further than a few hundred feet below the first summit. We were just not able to make it any further without snow shoes.

I recommend snowshoes for any winter hike. With these this should be an easy hike/scramble to beautiful vistas.

 
Eastern Washington -- Wenatchee
Water on trail
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Northrup Canyon is by far my favorite hike in Central Washington, and my favorite hike from November...

Northrup Canyon is by far my favorite hike in Central Washington, and my favorite hike from November - April. It's one of our rites of spring. We watched the weather carefully, and chose to go out last Saturday, when the temps were in the 50's. Being a weekend, we weren't expecting solitude, which you can find here on weekdays if you have the option. We met up with another 5 groups (including one group of horseback riders) - that still wasn't enough to make it feel crowded to us.

The trailhead is about a 1:45 drive from Spokane. It's accessed from the road along Banks Lake, well-marked (at least from the north), just a mile or so north (and on the east rather than west) of the Steamboat Rock part of the State Park. Oh, as a state park, there's a $5 parking fee.

For those of you who haven't been here, Northrup Canyon is an ""alpine oasis"" in the desert. The nearby Steamboat Rock hike is okay, but you'll be lucky to see a tree. Northrup Canyon is lush with Ponderosa pines and Douglas firs. Currently, the only flowers were scattered buttercups, but most shrubs were budding out, so it will probably be another month before the prime blooming season.

As for the hike, you start out on a road (now blocked at the trailhead) back to an old homestead 1.7 miles back. This part is fairly flat, and the lower spots were muddy or covered with water. There generally was a dry path to tread somewhere on the side of the road, though. The creek through the lower canyon was flowing faster and deeper than either of the two of us had ever seen, forming pretty cascades near the wooden bridge a little more than a mile in, where you cross the creek. If you choose to do this hike before the water seeps/flows/evaporates away and the roadbed still is filled with water, look for a large (6 foot high) basalt boulder to the left just past the bridge, and you'll find an older, rocky (okay as long as you don't have bad ankles) road in the basalt talus that will let you walk to the homestead without going in water up to your knees (word is that a horse found a soft spot on the road on Saturday, and went down to it's belly - at least three feet). For a nice view up the lower valley, scramble 50 feet up the granite boulder pile just preceding the bridge (the reason the old road has to go from the east side of the creek to the west).

For me, the reason to go on this hike at this time of year is the rest of the trip, from the homestead up. From this point, it's a single-track trail that climbs about 400 feet vertical along a granite spine (the bedrock in the area before the basalts). I missed this trail the first time in - it's left and uphill (look for signs on one of the buildings). The trail meanders along a well-designed path through granite boulders and notches, in open pine forest for much of the way, with the occasional vista. After about a mile, you come to a steep section, and end up on the top of the granite ridge. A little further, and you start dropping down on the other (east) side of the ridge. Currently, there's a frozen pond up here (never before when we've been up) that marks this point, which I'll come back to. For now, you follow the trail past the pond, and down to Northrup Lake, which has a really nice lunch spot on some rocks near the shore as the trail skirts the southern side. The lake is currently 3/4 frozen. We've always stopped here, but the trail continues around the lake and up the east side of the canyon and out to the top. Total distance to the lake is about 3.2 miles.

From here, the wandering can continue in one of two ways. You can backtrack to the ridge where you crossed over to the east (currently where the small pond is first seen), and then follow a faint trail (faint only because there's no obvious preferred route for a moment) north along the ridge until the trail becomes obvious. Eventually (oh, about 0.3 miles), you get to a nice outcrop with a view (and another great lunch spot) into the west canyon extention, and its lake (the map shows it as seasonal, but it seems as nice as Northrup Lake to me). You can also reach this point by going crosscountry from Northrup Lake to the obvious saddle where the grassy hill meets the basalt talus from the cliffs - at this point, a trail appears that takes you through a pretty meadow to the view spot outcrop.

From this outcrop, the trail descends a short distance into the west canyon, and goes through pretty thick (certainly for central Washington) forest to get to the ephemeral (according to the maps) lake. There's a nice grassy spot for a get-together right when you get to the lake. The trail continues along the east side of the lake, but this appears to be seldom used, so it's pretty brushy. There's another nice picnic spot halfway along the lakeshore. We continued past the lake, and followed the route (not quite a trail anymore) to its conclusion at the end of both the last sub-canyons. It's about 0.5 miles to the lake, and another 0.5 miles to the end of the canyon.

The trip visiting all these places was about 9 miles round trip. The total elevation gain was 500 feet from trailhead to ridgetop, and 100 feet back up after visiting the west lake. It looks like climbing out of the canyon would add another 100 feet vertical.

There are times when you are walking the trail (after the homestead) that you can almost convince yourself you are hiking in summer at altitude. I hope the pictures convey the feeling that this isn't just a place to get exercise in the winter months, but a place to really reenergize your soul and remind it what's coming as the high country melts out.

 
Olympics -- East
Blowdowns, Water on trail, Snow on trail
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Mentally transport yourself to that happy place. You know the one – paved Forest Service road, jus...

Mentally transport yourself to that happy place. You know the one – paved Forest Service road, just three cars at the trailhead at 11:00 on a sunny Saturday, a moderate elevation gain on a well-maintained trail, wildlife, trees, mini-waterfalls, moments of absolute silence, temperatures in the mid 50’s, a beautiful lake and picnic spot at the end. This was Lena Lake trail today!

Daughter 2 was along for the trip, and we were happy to redeem ourselves after our last hike together -- an aborted attempt to reach Lake Serene. Had I gone solo, I was planning an earlier start and a longer hike to Upper Lena Lake. But we’ll probably return and try car camping at Lena Creek Campground (within walking distance of the Lena Lake trailhead) or Hamma Hamma as a base camp. We saw several spots where the old trail (back to the 1930’s, according to the guidebook) intersected with the much gentler new one. 1,900’+ of elevation gain over the 3.2 miles to the lake are noticeable, but easy to do spread over the whole trail. At the top, Chapel Rock makes a great spot to break out the sandwiches and look over the partially frozen lake. We took a tour of the campsites to see where best to stake a claim when the summer crowds hit.

It’s all forest on this hike, and it seems rockier and rootier on the way down. There are some fallen trees, water on the trail and patches of snow, but nothing to make you turn around or don snowshoes. For those trekking with weak bladders, reluctant spouses, and/or shy children, note that there are vault toilets at the trailhead and composting toilets at the lake – some distance (1/8th mile?) from Chapel Rock.

 
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Mt. Rainier -- SE - Longmire / Paradise
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It was a beautiful day to be at Mt. Rainer. We were aiming for the Eagle Peak saddle, but ended-up o...

It was a beautiful day to be at Mt. Rainer. We were aiming for the Eagle Peak saddle, but ended-up on a higher point on the ridge on which the saddle is located. The Eagle Peak trail is a very nice trail that switchbacks easily up through a lovely mature forest. Beware of the snow covered log over the stream. Much safer to go down into the stream bed. From the stream crossing, we used snowshoes. We followed the trail and then continued on tracks from a group of 5 that took a more direct route. Not knowing where the saddle was located, we followed their tracks up a steep slope and ravine to a point on the shoulder of Eagle Peak at about the 5800 foot level. The view of Rainier and of the Tatoosh Range was spectacular. We followed the narrow ridge in the direction of the saddle, but couldn't figure-out a way down to it, so we descended by our ascent route. The snow was stable and held steps well, but in different conditions the route could be risky.

 
North Cascades
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This is a trail I've look @ many times as I drove by but today it was being looked at. I was looking...

This is a trail I've look @ many times as I drove by but today it was being looked at. I was looking for a close place from home to use snow shoe's so here we go.. This trail is a climb from the T.H. but levels off around 2600'. From here we put snow shoe's on and made our way down the trail. 3-4 feet of snow for the most part with great view's of both sides of the hill's. We came to a pile of huge blow down's that made for some cross country shoeing. Back on the trail we came to a small medow looking place and the creek crossing that we could see on the topo map. Well neither of us wanted to get that wet so the end of the trail was here. We took some pictures of the peeks that surounded us and had some snacks. Then it was time for some exploring on on snow shoe's.. These things are great fun.. Soon we made our way back down fallowing our tracks. Then we stopped and both staired at some big track, Cat Track we figure that had followed us then turned and went back down the trail. It seemed to be moving faster going down than up as it's track's were deep. Well it got us a bit excited to say the least. About then we herd a loud snap of a branch above us. We yelled BAD KITTY and got moving.. On the way out we came to a nice view of the back side of 3 Fingers. On the switch back part we ran into 4 groups of folks coming up. Our day was a 7 hour trip and the first up for the day.

 
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Snoqualmie Pass -- Snoqualmie Pass
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Started up the trail at 10:45am with no snow on the trail. Didn't put on snowshoes until the Alpine ...

Started up the trail at 10:45am with no snow on the trail. Didn't put on snowshoes until the Alpine Lakes boundary sign. Snow was very soft, wet and heavy. Boot steps kicked in the snow up the main gully for 400' vertical, then veered to the left to follow the West Arm up to the tower. Had to take snowsnoes back off on the steep slope as the snow was soft enough to prevent traction. Definitely bring an ice axe but boots are good enough if you don't have snow shoes. Fantastic view from the summit and a quick slide back down.

 
Mt. Rainier -- SE - Longmire / Paradise
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Packed my ski boots and straped my skis to my pack and headed for camp muir. What a beautiful day to...

Packed my ski boots and straped my skis to my pack and headed for camp muir. What a beautiful day to be on the mountain. Going was good untill the 9,000 foot mark, and then it hits ya. It was a good push to get there and well worth it. It was my first time skiing down and that was great. It would of been better if I was'nt so tired but still fun. About fifteen to twenty people made it to camp muir so there is a good path all the way, at least untill more snow comes in. Awsome weather, awsome snow, awsome trip. 4 1/2 hours up, 1/2 hour down. Cant beat it.

 
Snoqualmie Pass -- Snoqualmie Pass
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Kudos to HikerJim and his pal Gary for all the work on the Nordic Pass trail! I headed up there toda...

Kudos to HikerJim and his pal Gary for all the work on the Nordic Pass trail! I headed up there today to check it out on a late decision trip.

Parked at the Gold Creek SnoPark and headed up to the trailhead after a wrong turn. Climbed up the snowwall, down into the creek, and back up to see the Nordic Pass trail sign. Only two old XC tracks, partly filled in with recent snow. Put on my snowshoes and headed up along the diamonds.

A little ways in I hit a snowshoe route marked with ""Atlas Snowshoes"" route markers. I followed this from here on up to the powerlines, across the groomed road, and then up to Hyak Lake. At the top there was a decent sized crowd hanging around the ski patrol cabin.

Took some photos, had a snack, watched the skiers, then headed up between the groomed routes towards the large powerlines. I turned right and followed the lines east to rejoin the Nordic Pass trail. Found another sign and continued along the diamonds.

Shortly I had to cross another groomed run and then entered the dense trees. Skirted frog lake and slowly climbed up towards the pass. Near the pass there is a weird looking radio transmitter cabin. Passed this and at the sign for Windy pass I headed for the ridgeline.

Followed the ridgeline up towards Catherine. Slow going as my snowshoes were starting to ball up with snow. Had to stop often to clean them. Some steep sections here but nothing exposed as long as you stay away from the north sides of the ridge.

Below the summit there is a nice clearing with excellent views of Silver, Tinkham, and much of the surrounding peaks. The true summit was very snowloaded and exposed so I called this good. Going back down was equally slow because of the snowcoated snowshoes and I had many unplanned glissades.

Many more XC tracks about on the descent back to the car. By now my snowshoe track was a XC skiers highway and I had to break a new fresh trail. Getting late and as I passed the ski patrol hut he asked if anyone else was out there as they were doing a sweep for the night. Many many more snowshoe tracks down near Hyak Lake and the trail was packed down well now. Futher down there were also more ski tracks leading from the trailhead.

Trip photos at http://www.pbase.com/billcat/catherine/

 
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Snoqualmie Pass -- North Bend Area
Snow on trail
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The trail is much less mucky than even a month ago. A thin layer of snow and ice become treacherous ...

The trail is much less mucky than even a month ago. A thin layer of snow and ice become treacherous at about 3200' elevation. Crampons are recommended to about 3800', where the snow becomes thick enough to avoid surface ice. All the snow that had plastered the treetops has fallen or melted away. At higher elevations, stay on the packed trail to avoid post-holing. Snow generally well consolidated, but stay away from the large cornices that have formed on the northern side of the ridge as you approach the top.

Someone or some group has marked a large number of trees along the trail, I presume that some sort of ""trail improvement"" may be in the works. Don't see anything in the WTA listings. Anyone know what's happening here?

A beautiful day with very little wind.

 
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North Cascades -- Mountain Loop Highway
Blowdowns, Snow on trail
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As I flipped my calander page over to March, and saw spring listed on the 20th, I thought I would ce...

As I flipped my calander page over to March, and saw spring listed on the 20th, I thought I would celebrate it by taking a hike! We set off on a crispy clear morning, with frost on the Mountain Loop Highway as far as Deer Creek where the gate is closed. On the other side of the gate there was a coating of snow over the road, but well consolidated and with a frozen crust on top. We crunched along happily, enjoying the snow capped mountain peeks around us, stopping for short breaks to take a picture or adjust clothing. The higher the sun got the warmer we became!

In the Big Four picnic area was about 18-24 inches of solid snow with a good crust. We had lunch in the shelter then went up the 1 mile trail. It is just beautiful going through the frozen marshes on the boardwalk! There was snow on the boardwalk elevating it a foot or two, but still firm enough so we did not sink, and crusty enough so it was not slippery. We took several photos of the marshes, and the mountains reflecting in them.

The bridge crossing the Stilliguamish river was coverd with even more snow, so our footing was almost level with the tops of the railings. The river was gorgeous, with mounds of snow on each rock and log, and several more pictures were taken. With a blue sky for the background, and sunlight and shadows playing over the scene, everything is so much prettier! We felt really pleased to have such a nice day, when we were able to get out and enjoy it!

We stopped short of the basin at the end of the trail. We did not have snow shoes, and the snow at that point was soft and deep causing us to sink with each step. We went far enough to gaze at Big 4 and listen to the silent forest with the creek gurgling in the background as we took a break.

There was one blow down over the trail, a small tree about 8"" in diameter. There were quite a few others out enjoying the sun on this wonderful day, a group of 12 or 13 who were from the Lynnwood Senior Center (who I was glad not to be with since I could not have gone that pace!) There were also a couple of other hikers, snow shoers, and skiers.

When I returned to my car there was a note on the windshild asking me not to park in the turn around area. I felt so bad, it was an oversight on my part and I would like to apologize.

 
Snoqualmie Pass -- Snoqualmie Pass
Snow on trail
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Wright Mountain 5430' There were three of us on this weekday trip that almost ended at the Pancake ...

Wright Mountain 5430'

There were three of us on this weekday trip that almost ended at the Pancake House at Snoqualmie Pass. But the blizzard like weather front passed and by 08:20 we departed on snowshoes, with blue skies, up service road 9040 toward Snow Lake. It was difficult getting up the steep, deep snow but by 10:15 we arrived at the ridge overlooking Snow Lake. We went down and across the Lake heading north toward Gem Lake. We checked the snow depth with a trekking pole and found it to be over 5 feet deep on Snow Lake. We reached the summit of Wright Mountain at 1:10PM and had some great views as the clouds began to gather. It snowed most of the way back but not enough to cover our tracks in. We reached our vehicle at 4:15PM.

 
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Issaquah Alps -- Tiger Mountain
Snow on trail
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The hike up East Tiger from the Tiger Summit trailhead is a logging road walk the whole way. But tha...

The hike up East Tiger from the Tiger Summit trailhead is a logging road walk the whole way. But that's not such a bad thing, as there is little mud to deal with, and lots of sun and views. After all those drippy forest trails on Tiger, sometime a road walk is just the right thing. The hike is of moderate difficulty, covering 8 miles with an elevation gain of 1700'.

I enjoyed sunny weather on my jaunt up East Tiger, with a strong east wind shaking the trees and heralding the onset of yet another rainstorm. There was plenty of snow on top of the 3000' peak, four inches of fresh powder on top of a foot of crusty old snow in places. From the summit picnic table, Mt Rainier put on a good show.

 
Snoqualmie Pass -- Snoqualmie Pass
Snow on trail
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There just aren't many good snowshoe or cross country ski trails near Seattle which have little aval...

There just aren't many good snowshoe or cross country ski trails near Seattle which have little avalanche danger. There is one little known jewel that provides moderately gentle terrain, deep forest, lakes, and a pass on the crest of the Cascade Mountains. My friend Gary had a hand in building this trail. It has been around for more than 15 years and I never tried it until this weekend. Gary had a work party scheduled to replace blue diamond markers all along the route. We had a busy day filling in gaps where diamonds are missing or covered by tree growth. I made it much of the way up and Gary and others made it all the way up to Nordic and down to Windy Pass. I will describe the section I snowshoed and leave the latter part to Gary.

First a little history is in order. Not all that many years ago much of the area around Hyak (Summit East) was open for backcountry skiing. The earlier ski area concentrated on downhill and skinny skiers had forest and roads to explore. Now there is a large groomed cross country area and crossover trails between the ski areas. Gary and friends convinced the Forest Service that backcountry skiers still should be able to use the area south of Snoqualmie Pass. Thus the Nordic Pass Trail was conceived and built to serve backcountry skiers.

Today there are numerous groomed cross country areas along I-90 but not much undeveloped forest. Especially not much with little avalanche danger. The Nordic Pass Trail is ideal for skiers who would like to venture off groomed roads and try untracked skiing. It's also great for those with the skill to ski rapidly down through the trees. That would not be me. Today there are many snowshoers and it is a great trail for all levels of skill and fitness. There are blue diamonds from the start all the way to Nordic Pass and down to Windy Pass. If you can't see one ahead stop and scout around. It is possible to make it all the way up just following the diamonds. When the trees are snow plastered some diamonds are hidden by white but keep looking and you can find your way.

The trail begins off a street of cabins just above Hyak. Take Exit 54 (Hyak) off I-90 and turn left. Parking is at the Gold Creek Sno-Park. Permits are required. Walk under the highway and into the Summit East (Hyak) lot. A short way in is a stop sign. Turn to the right here and walk up the road. Quickly the road splits. Take another right. A little farther the main road heads uphill to the left. Go left. The road then makes a sharp turn to the left. The trail begins at this switchback.

This weekend the snow was 8 feet high and we had to dig a break in the wall to climb up. It only took a few minutes. The property owner at the top of the switchback does not want people on his property so climb up in the middle of the road corner. Once on top of the wall we quickly reached the creek. With all the snow this year it required dropping about 6 feet to a snow covered logjam then climbing back up. On the other side is a big tree with a ""Nordic Pass Trail"" sign.

You should not have to go far to see the next diamond. The trail heads away from the road gaining elevation very gently. The sharpest turns have large blue diamonds with a turn arrow. Two horizontal diamonds also represent a turn. The route heads northwest and intersects the old cross pass railroad grade. Look for a diamond on the left which shows where to exit the grade. The route switches back and forth rather than going straight up the fall line. Very easy on snowshoes and sometimes requiring climbing skins for skiers.

The route generally follows close by Hyak Creek. A number times it almost reaches the creek and switchbacks away one again. There are several groomed cross country road/trails to cross. In each case you come out of the forest and head right back into it again. Look carefully to find a diamond on the other side. They are not always directly across but in no case do you proceed up or down the groomed roads any distance. The most difficult crossing is at the biggest crossover trail linking Summit Central and Summit East. There are wooden power poles along this trail which looks like a road. The route crosses and angles off to the right before entering the forest again. Be sure to look well off to the right uphill to see the next diamond.

Once across this trail near 3400' more switchbacks lead up to a meadow. Continue to your right along the meadow and soon reach Hyak Lake. The trail leaves the initial road switchback at about 2760' and the lake is at 3525'. I was surprised to see a group of snowshoers on the other side of the snow covered lake. The terrain now becomes very gentle. We soon intersected the upper groomed cross country ski area. The trail crosses the groomed route with diamonds visible on both sides.

About the trickiest section to follow is near the metal-tower power line corridor. You can't miss the lines or likely miss the buzzing. In this corridor all the trees were cut down. Smaller trees have grown up but they are thick with downward sloping branches. There is no place to place diamonds on the trunks. Through here we hung diamonds from branches with wire. Keep an eye out for them. It was clear enough here to see Mt. Catherine with Nordic Pass on its lower northwest ridge and Silver Peak behind the pass. After a long morning and early afternoon of work Suzanne and I had to head back at this point. Now I'll let Gary describe the route from here.

After crossing underneath the power lines the trail crosses a groomed trail and heads back for a short distance through smaller trees until it reaches a fork in the groomed trail network. It was at this point that Jim and Suzanne headed back. It was 1:15 pm and I badly wanted to reach Windy Pass to put up the last Nordic Pass Trail sign. So at this point Ron, Andrejs and I stopped replacing diamonds and took off for the pass.

Two of the groomed forks head down. Go down along the right fork and look for diamonds on the trees to the left. Make a left turn towards the diamonds and continue past a large tree with a diamond. Shortly after this tree the trail turns right and switchbacks up the hill. The trail gets close to a groomed trail and then turns left where you will see a tree with a Nordic Pass Trail sign. At this tree turn right and follow the trail through a blowdown area. Past the blowdown area the trail heads west along a steep hillside. Outside of one notable dip, the trail generally heads up and climbing skins are helpful here. At about 3700 ft the trail heads south and the grade decreases.

Shortly before a pleasant meadow area with widely spaced trees we lost the diamonds. Either a few diamonds were missing or they were covered with snow. The trail heads through the middle of this area and crosses Dick’s Creek on a snow bridge. We picked up the diamonds at Dick’s Creek and had a short snack break. From Dick’s Creek we followed the trail south until we were just short of the slopes of Mt. Catherine and reached 3900 ft elevation. At this point the trail turned west and reached Nordic Pass at just over 4000 ft elevation. The Nordic Pass sign is on a small tree to the north of the low point of the pass.

At this point I should explain that there are three passes with small bumps in-between. The Nordic Pass Trail goes through the southern-most pass. This pass has pleasant slopes to the west with widely spaced trees and plenty of sun on sunny days. There are views through the trees towards Silver and Tinkham. The middle pass is the lowest pass and thus the real pass. It is cold and dark with no views. An old abandoned ski trail heads from this pass down towards Olallie Meadow.

At Nordic Pass, Ron who had skied the day before decided to take a much deserved break while Andrejs and I headed to Windy Pass to put up the Nordic Pass Trail sign. From Nordic Pass the trail dropped down to the snow gauge and then headed up a short slope before the steep descent to Windy Pass. The blue diamonds head straight down the slope. It is up to the skier to pick out his own switchbacks. Under icy conditions typically half or more of a skiing party will remove their skis and walk. But today we had nice soft snow so we skied down the hill.

Andrejs expertly descended the slope staying close to the fall line. I had left my skins on since we were about to turn around and head back up to Nordic Pass. I still managed to fall a couple times as I descended the hill. Near Windy Pass the trail enters an old clearcut. On the last big tree before the clearcut I put up the Nordic Pass Trail sign. This tree is visible from the Windy Pass area and you should be able to see the sign if you look for it.

After installing the sign we returned to Nordic Pass where Ron was patiently waiting and freezing. It was 3:15 and time to head out. We had a fun and quick run down the gentler grades of the upper half of the trail. On the lower half we got in several telemark turns and in my case telemark falls. By the time we walked back to the Gold Creek Sno-Park lot it was almost 5:30.

A couple final warnings: The blue diamond trail markers can be totally hidden by snow plastered on the trees. As the trees grow larger the diamonds eventually pop off and a few of the trees with diamonds have fallen over. So if you totally lose the trail and cannot find any more blue diamonds it is probably best to turn around.

Although in my non-expert opinion there is no avalanche danger along the Nordic Pass Trail, if you wander off the trail towards Mt. Catherine or Nordic Knob (aka Radio Mt.) you can find avalanche slopes.

For more information on the Nordic Pass Trail, to get a topo map with GPS waypoints (about 1 MB) or to volunteer for future work parties send an email to: nordicpasstrail@yahoo.com.

I have posted 25 photos with visual information on following the trail

at: http://www.hikingnorthwest.com. Go to ""Trips-2006"" on the left margin.

 
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Snoqualmie Pass -- Snoqualmie Pass
Snow on trail
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There was snow on the trail. :) Lots of delicious fresh powder. Creek crossing entering Commonwealt...

There was snow on the trail. :) Lots of delicious fresh powder.

Creek crossing entering Commonwealth is low and well established with climbs down/up surrounding snow banks.

If you want to be lazy, head up in late morning/early afternoon for any climbs. Save yourself the effort of building your own track and make those silly early birds do it for you.

We built a little track up the backside of Guye Peak over a good crossing near the second, western creek to a safe camp. If the snow hasn't covered it yet, beyond our camp there's a track leading up to the saddle and then splitting off toward Cave Ridge.

 
Snoqualmie Pass -- Snoqualmie Pass
Snow on trail
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Sadie knew she wanted to go somewhere this weekend and although it appeared as though Saturday would...

Sadie knew she wanted to go somewhere this weekend and although it appeared as though Saturday would be the better day weather-wise, the tempermental driver was complaining about having to do some work before play - so Sunday was to be the day to adventure out (said driver had already decided not to do the Chilly Hilly on Sunday, since ""they"" said it was going to rain). Hiker Jim's friend, Gary, is keeper of the Nordic Back Country Ski Trail near Hyak (East Summit) and had enlisted several willing souls to help put up blue diamonds to mark the trail better. Sadie agreed to tag along and so off we went early Sunday morning. We parked in the Hyak ski area parking lot and walked the 1/4 mile to the access point for the Nordic Trail. It is (basically) due west from the parking area - you walk up Snoqualmie Drive (across the street from the parking lot) and go to the right and at the fork in the road, stay left and when you come to the hairpin turn in a few hundred yards, you should see the cut-away in the snowbank to access the trail (when there is no snow, you should be able to see the Nordic Ski Trail sign from the road). You cross a small creek (we had a hand little snow foot bridge that held all of us) and then follow the blue diamonds (that is, if we did our job well). This back country trail actually criss-crosses the groomed crosscountry ski trail (named ""I-90"") and keepings meandering up to what is a meadow in the summer, and around the southeast edge of Hyak Lake before coming upon the power lines on Snoqualmie. It was slow going - not because of the conditions (there was a good 6-8"" of fresh powder - and we didn't get rained on after all), but just because stopping to figure out where to put the diamonds so that folks using the trail could easily follow it - in some areas, that was rather tricky if there were no trees to afix the diamonds to! Judgement calls in those areas. The trail itself is about 6 miles or so from the trailhead to Nordic Pass - a nice little trip (both skiers and snowshoers seem to use this area a fair amount) - along the way, you can opt to add Mt. Catherine into the mix for a side jaunt with some views. Because we were running so late, we weren't able to include it. A nice trail with about 1600' elevation gain from point to point - Mt. Catherine would add a bit more - but a very ""doable"" trip and a good place to go if the avalanche danger is high elsewhere. Sadie got a bit weighed down with ""snowballs"" on her belly and between her legs, making the trek more strenuous for her - gotta' get those ""feathers"" trimmed. At least we were able to knock most of them off along the way so she didn't have to work so hard!

 
Snoqualmie Pass -- North Bend Area
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Looking for a trip with no appreciable avalanche danger we ended up at the Pratt Lake trail heading ...

Looking for a trip with no appreciable avalanche danger we ended up at the Pratt Lake trail heading up to Ollalie Lake this week. A large group with the Mountaineers started up right before us and had the trail packed down hard the entire way - no need for snowshoes.

The trail up to the Granite Mtn turnoff was packed snow and fairly slick. After the tunoff the conditions improved but it was still slippery. The creeks are barely running so crossings are not too difficult but do require a slippery step down.

We turned off at the Talapus lake trail and descended to the creek. From here we followed the creek to the Ollalie Lake outlet and had lunch. The lake is snow covered, likely frozen. Up above on the ridge we could see evidence of fresh avalanches and way up top a monster cornice. Every once in awhile a strong wind blew through the valley.

Returning we cut across to the main trail from the outlet. By now sun and boots had softened the packed snow making walking less perilous. Traction devices (YakTrax) still helped alot on the descent.

More trip photos: http://www.pbase.com/billcat/hiking/

 
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It was a lovely day for a hike but I was plagued with the question of where to go. Since the snow wa...

It was a lovely day for a hike but I was plagued with the question of where to go. Since the snow was so low I decided to head for Lost Lake just south of Bellingham in the wonderful Chuckanut mountains. This is one of my favorite areas due to the whole mountain, ocean, archipelago combination. Started out from Arroyo Park just off Chuckanut drive and hooked up with the Hemlock trail for a short 1.2 mile gradual climb. Took a right on the North Lost Lake Trail and did a little more elevation for about a mile to the junction with the Chuckanut Ridge Trail, which is another gem but was going to be a pass for me today. Continued on the North Lost Lake Trail for another 2.4 miles to the lake passing some stellar sandstone rock formations and ice sculptures, icicles, water features, frogs and many other things to arouse my interest and tantilize the senses. The lake was partly frozen and the open water was clearly visible by the light raindrops making slight rings and ripples as the rain danced upon its surface. A short walk to the outflow was in order and well worth the small effort it took to slide down the hill for a great opportunity to drink in the sight of water happily dancing down a series of short steps before flinging itself off of a 30' waterfall. Headed back the same way till the junction of the Salal Trail and took that back down to the Hemlock. Some fresh trailwork along the way that was pretty questionable, definately not WTA work. All around good day, the trail is in pretty good shape till just before the lake where it gets a little muddy. About a 9 mile round trip with opportunities for some great side trips.

 
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Olympics -- East
Washouts, Snow on trail
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The road is now washed out one mile before the washout. Trucks can get through to the main washout b...

The road is now washed out one mile before the washout. Trucks can get through to the main washout but most cars can not. Snow on the road started near Dose Falls and was about 3 inches deep at the Ranger Station. I turned around at the Ranger Station so did not actually hike on the Dose trail but still managed to hike 13 miles RT just to get to the trailhead.

 
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Snow on trail
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Actually this report is for a XC ski trip up the Twin Lakes Rd and not the Yellow Aster Butte trail ...

Actually this report is for a XC ski trip up the Twin Lakes Rd and not the Yellow Aster Butte trail itself. This XC ski tour is #5 in the 1988 edition of ""Cross Country Ski Tours 1: Washington's North Cascades"" by Kirkendall and Spring.

Saturday Feb. 25th we ski toured up FR 3065, the Twin Lakes Rd that starts just to the east of the Shuksan DOT facility on Mt Baker Hwy. This is the road that heads up to Yellow Aster Butte trailhead and Winchester Mtn.. The long roadside pullover across from the DOT area is 30 minutes only. I found a DOT worker that allowed us to park in their area but just for the day. Later I read in the 1988 edition of ""Cross Country Ski Tours 1"" by Kirkendall and Spring that winter parking for the Twin Lakes road is 0.2 miles further down at Hannegan Road.

The tour starts at about 2000 feet and gradually switchbacks up. There was a easily breakable crust about 2-3 inches thick for the first 1/2 mile. After that, just 1-2 feet of heavy, wet unconsolidated powder to break trail through. There was a lone snowshoer ahead of us who broke trail about 1.5 miles then turned around. Our goal was to make it to the end of FR 3066 and ski any open areas in old clearcuts. But, we only made it about 2 miles in after running out of time and energy to about 3100 feet and turned around. 2 skiers were heading up as I was kicking and gliding down our set tracks. Telemarking was impossible on the gradual slope with touring gear and deep, heavy snow outside of tracks. It was good to see snowshoers (we had one) walking outside of and not destroying hard-fought ski tracks.

My car's thermometer said 33 degrees at 2000 feet, 33 degrees up at White Salmon Rd non-offical parking area (3520 ft.), 34 degrees at the turn-off to lower ski area and 34 degrees at Maple Falls on the drive back. Odd that the temp stayed the same at those different elevations. It's not broken. Engine heat? But, snow seemed colder, drier, more powderlike down low than up at 3500+ feet (?). NOAA-NWS forecasted a snow level of 2000 feet.

Sunday Feb. 26th's rain up to 4000+ feet probably made quick work of that crust and upper layers of powder at 2000 - 2300 feet. It looked pretty slushy at the DOT shed on the way down from Mt Baker ski area yesterday.

 
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Olympics -- East
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We began our hike at the fairly new trailhead about 1 1/2 miles north of the concrete bridge over th...

We began our hike at the fairly new trailhead about 1 1/2 miles north of the concrete bridge over the Gray Wolf River on FSR 2870. There are several downed trees, esp. fromTwo Mile Camp at 1150 feet to Cliff Camp which is 1200 feet. The trail between Two Mile Camp and Cliff Camp has it's ups and downs, but is never very steep.There is an observation point at about 3.2 miles . This is about 1500 feet. Cliff Camp is 3.5 miles. We hiked to the washed out bridge area at 4.2 miles. There is a nice camp site near here where Divide Creek enters the Gray Wolf on the opposite side. We could see the other side which we had hiked to a few weeks ago starting at the Slab Camp TH. The route from Cliff Camp follows the Gray Wolf through a narrow gorge where the Graywolf forms a series of pretty blue-green pools and rapids. The forest is very beautiful with moss covered floors. A very nice winter hike!

 
Central Cascades -- Stevens Pass - West
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Suprise Lk trail had fresh snow on Thurday night and snow consistency was like sugar on Saturday - l...

Suprise Lk trail had fresh snow on Thurday night and snow consistency was like sugar on Saturday - loose and granular. A previous party (maybe Friday) had forged a route - but on the wrong side of suprise creek. Should have taken the route proper (crossed Suprise Creek at about 2-2.5 miles from trailhead) and busted the correct route as we were very close to avalanche run-outs. At about 3 miles finally crossed creek and began final approach to lake. No one had been past our creek crossing for sometime so our party of two had to forge a new trail in. Snow quantity caused us to turn around in the late afternoon. Stopped at 3600 ft. elevation. Steep terrain and the late hour all added up to a tiring but enjoyable day.

 
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Snoqualmie Pass -- Salmon La Sac/Teanaway
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T and I were looking for a moderate day on skis where he could try out new gear, someplace different...

T and I were looking for a moderate day on skis where he could try out new gear, someplace different, and with a minimum of avalanche danger. Hex Mt. fit all of the above criteria. Parking was no problem in the plowed area off Salmon LaSac Rd, near Newport Creek. We walked to the logging road turnoff and skied up the main track to Hex Mt. trailhead, about 1.7 mi from Salmon LaSac road.

From the trailhead, we climbed to the ridge and had a brief lunch at the knob, still quite a ways from the summit. The wind was cold and weather was moving in. The snow would be tricky so we decided to minimize the faceplants by turning around here.

The ski out was mainly breakable crust with pockets of beautiful powder. I broke a few tree branches as the skis refused to turn and slowly picked my way down, while T maintained his usual style of aggresive skiing and wipeouts. Long traverses, kickturns and many wobbly turns got us back to the logging road. Luckily the road, churned up by a combination of snow machine, snowshoes and skis, had softened slightly so the glide out wasn't too bad. A short day (4 hours r.t.), but fun to try someplace different. I'll be back when there's more powder, and hopefully make it to the summit.

Saw three other pairs of snowshoers, one dog, no snowmobiles.

 
Eastern Washington -- Yakima
Snow on trail
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Although the falls is beautiful the trail has been used frequently and is packed snow and ice, and i...

Although the falls is beautiful the trail has been used frequently and is packed snow and ice, and is very slick. It is extremely difficult to get a view of the falls because the trail above the falls is solid ice. This area is dangerous because of ice. Saw 6 people and a dog on the trail.

 
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More hikes » Hike of the Week
Diablo Lake Trail (Apr 17)

Diablo Lake

North Cascades

Follow the Diablo Lake Trail up and across talus slopes on the flanks of Sourdough Mountain to impressive cascading waterfalls and stunning views. This hike in the North Cascades Institute's backyard makes a great option for an early season hike in stunning North Cascades National Park, much of which is inaccessible during the winter and spring.

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