Annette Lake

     I have done Annette Lake at least a dozen times in the Spring, Summer, and Fall. I have tried it twice in the Winter I had not succeeded in reaching it though. On my first Winter try while crossing an open snow slope I fell through and my feet did not reach the bottom. Hanging by your shoulders is not recommended. Today the conditions were very good and I was sure of success. This was a Mountaineer trip but it was unusually small with only 7 members. On the drive up the wind was howling. I was afraid it might be a very cold day. The entrance road to the parking lot was a little snowy but easily passable. The lot itself was snow covered and very slick. With all wheel drive it was no problem. The bridge over Humpback Creek is torn up pending repair so a detour takes you along the Asahel Curtis Nature Trail then a temporary trail links up with the old trail just after the creek. I was surprised to see that there were half a dozen groups getting started early on a January Saturday. In years past I would not have seen anyone at this trailhead at this time of year. 

     The lower section of the trail is snow covered. It has been packed down by many hikers and it a little slick. We carried snowshoes all the way up and all the way down. In some places their crampons would have been useful, but not enough to warrant taking the time to put them on. Poles were very helpful in keeping on my feet (and not my rear). We stopped briefly at the railroad grade. There was enough snow that I would have put on snowshoes if I were to hike the grade. Across the grade we hiked and continued on. The middle 2 miles of this trip contain the vast majority of the elevation gain. The last half mile is even mostly a gentle downhill. We were on the trail by 8:35 and by 9:30 we were well up the trail. It was cold in the parking lot and a little windy. As we climbed up the valley the wind stopped. Going uphill it was easy to warm up. The snow was a little crusty but it was not freeze/thaw ice such as on the Mt. Si trail. The tracks across the open slopes were very safe and easy to cross. The amount of snow was extremely low for this time of year. Small bushes were poking through the snow on the open slopes where they should have been buried. By 10:40 we were at the lake and all alone. The other groups must have been going up Silver Peak. The sky was clear but the sun was too low to reach over the ridges surrounding the lake. My thermometer read 22 degrees. We had "brunch", it was too early to call it lunch. I would have liked to stay longer but it was just too cold to sit still. From the lake shore there was a beautiful view of Silver Peak with it's summit in the sunshine.

On the way down we began to meet other hikers. In this low snow year even some hikers with minimal equipment were hiking on up. The trip down was a little slippery but much faster. By 12:30 we were back at the car. Annette Lake is a very nice Summer hike. It is not a lonesome one. By leaving early it was a great Winter trip. The views of Silver, Abiel, and Humpback were terrific with a coating of snow. This was a nice short Winter hike.

Snowy Trail
Humpback Mt..
Open Slope
Frozen Limbs
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