Iron Horse Trail Ski

With two day left in the year I was near my elevation gain goal but still well short on mileage. I had to work half the day then I was free. I chose to head up to the Hyak Sno-Park to get in a nice long and fast trip. It's as flat as a pancake but that would be fine. With all the recent snow I did not know if it was freshly groomed so I took my touring skis. A bit wider than needed for groomed tracks but able to cut trail if necessary. Last year I only made it out on skis one time. This year I would get an earlier start to the season. It was 11:30 before I managed to get out of town. By 12:30 I was on the trail.

The groomer had just come through and the tracks were in perfect shape. It was overcast and cold but not too windy. This is a great aerobic workout. It is about 6 1/2 miles down to the Lost Lake Road at the other end of Lake Keechelus. The old railroad grade follows the west shore of the lake. Sometimes the lake is in sight and often there is a swath of trees blocking the view but also much of the wind. At about one mile I reached Mill Creek and the start of the connector trail to the Cold Creek groomed trail run by the ski area. It is also the route of the Common Corridor for backcountry skiers. They can use the Cold Creek route up to Windy Pass with no charge.

This day I was happy to stay on the level railroad grade. I crossed Mill Creek then Cold Creek on bridges and soon reached the site of the old snow sheds. When I began skiing the route there was no Sno-Park at Hyak and I came from the other end of the lake. It was not groomed then either. I used to ski around the southern shed and then walk through the other one. Now they are gone and in high avalanche times the route can be dangerous to cross. I was fine today.

From the open shed site it looks like a long way to the other end of the lake. It is still some 4 miles away. I saw an occasional skate skier but late afternoon mid week was a time for some solitude. I crossed the bridge at Roaring Creek after 5 miles. The last 1 1/2 miles seemed to take a long time. At long last I crossed the Meadow Creek bridge and reached the Lost Lake Road. When I was last there two years ago there was a chain link fence blocking the way across the Keechelus Lake dam. Not so any longer. I saw some tracks heading over the dam. I'll have to come back and check this out later.

With a number of photo stops my time down the lake was 1:30. Nowhere near my best but not too bad either for 6 1/2 miles. After a short lunch I headed back. It was pretty quiet until I reached the last few miles. At Cold Creek a skater asked if I could take a photo of her with her camera. She reciprocated and I now have one of the few shots of me on skis. On the way back there are views out to the peaks around Gold Creek. They were largely in clouds though they began to break up. I made it back with about a half hour of daylight left. I took 1:37 coming back.

There are not a lot of places I can get in 13 miles in just over three hours. With daylight ending just after 4:00 pm this proved to be one place I could work half a day and still get in the mileage before dark. It was a very nice day to be out skiing and set me up to reach my goals on the last day of the year.

Freshly Groomed
Flocked Trees
View Of Snowsheds
Dam In Sight
Skate Skier
Roaring Creek
Roaring Creek Bridge
Keechelus Dam
Camp Sites
View Up Lake
All Alone
Cold Creek Outhouse
Me On Skis
Alta Mountain
Home Stretch
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2008