Iron Horse + Cedar Butte
Here it is March 1st and I had done only three cross
country ski trips this season. With very warm temperatures forecast I headed
up to Snoqualmie Pass to get in an early trip. I arrived at the Hyak Sno-Park
at 8:45 and was the third car in the lot. In all my years of hiking I have
forgotten many things. I have taken three pin boots and NNN skis. I have
taken no lunch. This time really takes the cake. I grabbed my skis and went
to get my pack... Oops, where's my pack? It's right next to the fireplace
in my living room where I left it. Oh well, it was too late by then. I took
off with a hat, gloves, and nothing more. The temperature was about 26 degrees
when I started with a clear sunny sky. The cross country season at Hyak's
level is about over. There was about 6 to 12 inches of hard packed snow left.
There was no dirt showing through on the trail but there were bare spots
under the trees to the side of the trail. The morning conditions were great.
The snow was hard packed and quick but not icy. I actually had a good kick
and glide. This was the first ski trip where I have taken a camera and with
the clear sky I managed to get some nice mountain shots. The way down the
lake was quick. I took 1:18 to get to the Lost Lake Road. The distance is
6 1/2 miles. There was a chain link fence blocking the road over the dam.
No trespassing signs were posted. I was curious if the Price Creek Sno-Park
had been rendered useless. I saw two skiers who had skied around the fence
and went over to find out. The first skier turned out to be Jack Wallace
who was also on the
trip we did last year. I thought I recognized his face but he not only
recognized me, he also remembered my name. I wish I were that good with
names. Jack and Peggy were going up to Lost Lake. They had no problem, other
than a lack of snow, coming from Price Creek. It seems that the route is
Since I had no lunch or water, there was no point waiting around. After
saying good-bye to Jack and Peggy I was heading back. The temperature had
warmed considerably but the snow was still not very soft. I was able to
continue to make good time. I had to keep my long sleeves down due to my
lack of sun screen. I have received some of my worst sun burns on clear
days in the Winter while on snow. On the whole way down I saw 5 other people.
When I was back within four miles of the sno-park traffic began to pick
up. Still, it never became very bad. One advantage of late season skiing
(March 1st?) is that most others have given up for the year. On the way
back I had the sun behind me and stopped frequently to take photos. This
is far from wilderness on an old railroad grade across the lake from an interstate
highway, but it was beautiful none the less. By 11:40 I was back at the sno-park
with 13 miles under my belt. The temperature was now up to 45 degrees. What
a difference in less than three hours!
It was way too early to head home. Since this trip had exactly zero elevation
gain I brought along boots to get in a short hike as well. I decided on Cedar
Butte which starts from near Rattlesnake Lake. By 12:30 I had driven down
from the pass and up to the trailhead. Cedar Butte is a short 4 mile round
trip with 900' of elevation gain. It is too short for me to devote a day
to but makes a good early morning trip when you don't have a full day free.
It also makes a nice second trip of the day. There were cars parked down
the road from Rattlesnake Lake so I bet the Ledge trail was mobbed. I, on
the other hand, had one person leave just after me and he was the only person
I saw on the whole trip. There is now a sign for Cedar Butte along the railroad
grade. The trail has also been largely rebuilt. Instead of a short steep
climb up the Butte, it is now a longer trail with many, many, many switchbacks.
All but one of the short steep sections have been rerouted. This is now
a trail that is well suited for small children. If they can handle the four
miles there are no longer difficult sections of trail to navigate. Even
after 13 miles of skiing and no food since breakfast it only took me 48 minutes
to reach the top. The trees are growing and blocking a little of the view
but I could see from Mt. Defiance to Mailbox to the Middle Fork Peaks to
Green, Teneriffe, Si, and Little Si. This is a very nice view with a minimal
amount of effort. After a short stay on the summit it was time to head on
down. The downhill part is no longer a knee basher. It is quite gentle now.
I passed two signed trails to the Boxley Blowout but lacked the energy to
explore them this day. The blowout took a massive amount of hillside down
into the valley when it occurred. I didn't know that there was a trail to
a viewpoint. I'll come back with my camera soon.
Overall, this was a nice day to be in the mountains. I managed to overcome
my own stupidity and made do without my gear. Hopefully, it will be another
21 years of hiking before I do it again. The totals for the day were 17
miles and 900' of elevation gain. All that and I was home by 3:00.