Moon Wall - Lake Hancock Loop
It isn't often I have the opportunity to do a totally
new hike close to Seattle. When I saw this Mountaineer hike coming up I knew
I had to go. The description listing 16 miles with 3000' of gain and some
off trail bushwhacking made it more appealing. Thankfully, the leader had
done this trip previously. Using a map and an old copy of Footsore 2 I was
able to come up with a rough approximation of the route we were to take.
We arrived at the Spur 10 gate on the North Fork Snoqualmie River Road at
8:30 AM. The elevation is just about 1000'. I have been up the road and over
to Lake Calligan but nowhere else. It was clear and a little cold as we headed
out. The road drops gently down to the Snoqualmie River and crosses on a
bridge. A short way ahead is a four way intersection at the 1 1/2 mile mark.
Straight ahead goes to Lake Hancock. This would be our return route. We turned
right and proceeded to the south.
The road was totally flat for 1 1/4 miles before finally beginning to
climb. At about 1500' we passed a nice waterfall. It actually takes two
consecutive plunges. At about 1800' the fun began. We turned off right on
an old and long abandoned road. It was filled with small trees and salmonberry
bushes. The leaves and flowers were just beginning to bud so at least it
was still easy to see through them. There are numerous trees down along the
road but none were very difficult to get over or around. This road stayed
level and even began to drop a little. It ended just before Rachor Creek.
We dropped down towards the creek.
The creek itself is quite something to behold at this point. There is
a dark canyon. The creek enters by way of a waterfall into a pool scoured
in the rock. On one side is a giant rock wall covered in moss and ferns.
A steady breeze blew through as well. We were able to cross the creek with
one big step from rock to rock. On the other side it is necessary to scramble
steeply up the duff covered hillside. Once above the creek we faced about
300' of steep forest scrambling. We took the path of least resistance as
we avoided as many downed logs as possible. Many good sized logs were completely
rotted out and would collapse under most any weight. This bit of forest
is much different from the clear cuts all around it. The route was steep
but mercifully short. We went more or less straight up staying just a short
way right of the creek.
We came out on level ground on another old road. This road is in Footsore
2. It once was a hiking route from North Bend across the Moon Wall to Rachor
Vista. Now there is no access at the bottom. We were going to visit an old
hiking route by starting at the top. The road was as overgrown as the one
we had previously traveled. It descends at a steady grade all the way back
to the outskirts of North Bend at an elevation of 500'. It was obvious that
virtually nobody has been here in many years. There are a number of places
where the hillside has slid making for a little scrambling. Some downed trees
were also quite large. Needless to say, our progress was very slow. The
Moon Wall is very steep when seen from below. It is amazing that a road was
dug out along it.
It was nearing noon when we reached a wide dry creek bed. We could hear
rushing water above but it was underground at this point. The many good
sized rocks provided a good spot for our group of nine to break for lunch.
Moss and licorice ferns covered the banks of the creek bed. Huge mosquitos
inhabited this spot as well. Summer in March. After lunch we decided to
keep heading on down. We came upon some large rocks either broken off from
the cliffs above or deposited by glaciers. Our route ended near 1000' when
the route suddenly comes upon a bulldozer in an enclosed canopy. There were
no "No Trespassing" signs but it was apparent we had reached someone's property.
This was the first time I have hiked for 4 hours to end up in someone's back
We then had to retrace our steps back up the overgrown road. We had broken
off a number of overhanging branches on the way down which helped a little
on the way up. Slow steady progress was made until we returned to the point
where we first reached the road. Just beyond there we again came to Rachor
Creek. The remains of the old bridge are still there. Half a dozen huge logs
are still there on the other side of the creek. We found it not too difficult
to hop rocks and get across. Once across we traversed a short distance to
more open slopes and headed straight up. This scramble was very steep but
not very long. Within 200' vertical feet we topped out on the gravel logging
road we had left many hours ago to begin our adventure.
It was now 3:30 and we had two options. We had traveled 8 miles thus far
in 7 hours. The easy route would be to follow the road downhill 4 1/2 miles
to the cars. That would give us a respectable 12 1/2 miles on the day. The
other option was to head uphill and follow the road all the way around to
Lake Hancock and out. Being an adventurous group we voted to take the long
way. We were at about 2200' and still had another 1000' or more to reach
the high point on the road. With the road gated and few people having keys
this is very lonesome territory. About a mile along the road we had a great
view of the backside of Mt. Teneriffe. I have sat on the summit and looked
down into this valley. Now I was actually hiking in it. The road finally turned
to the left and began heading north towards Lake Hancock.
There were several spots with very nice views out to Rattlesnake and Tiger
Mountains, Seattle and Bellevue, and Fuller Mountain and Klaus Lake below
us. It soon became apparent that at our speed and estimating the distance
still to go that we were not likely to make it out in daylight. On we trudged
as the mile markers kept getting larger and larger. Near the highest point
we had one last look at the Puget Sound basin. As the sun dropped the temperature
plunged. Sweaters and coats replaced short sleeves. The drop to Hancock was
fairly steep for a road as we lost 1000' in less than 2 miles. Near the
lake a Jeep passed us. It was the only contact we had with anyone all day.
Beyond the lake is an intersection. Right goes to cabins along the shore.
Left heads back to our cars. We had first climbed up to the road at the
3 mile marker. At the intersection we reached the 10 mile marker. It was
now past 6:30 and getting dark very quickly.
The forest is mostly clear cut below the lake which gave us views out
to the lights of North Bend, Snoqualmie Ridge, and the big cities to the
west. The last 3 miles were entirely in the dark. We finally came back through
the gate to our cars at 8:00 PM. Once home I consulted the map and determined
that we had traveled 19 miles with 4000' gained in 11 1/2 hours. Many of
those hours were scrambling and bushwhacking at a very slow pace. This turned
out to be a fun trip. Every step was new to me and some of it has seen very
few people in the last 30 years. We had a strong group and everyone still
looked good at the end of a long and grueling day. All in all it was an excellent
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.
NF Snoqualmie River
Beginning To Climb
Group At Falls
Photo Page 2
Trips - 2005