Mt. Si Via Teneriffe Road

It was time to try out my new snowshoes. With a lot of unconsolidated snow in the mountains I chose a very low starting elevation to get in some mileage and elevation gain without hours of wallowing in deep snow. The Mt. Teneriffe Road fit the bill with Mt. Si being the goal. As I passed the Mt. Si trailhead there was a few inches of fresh snow on the road. That I was not expecting. There were three cars at the Teneriffe parking lot. I pulled off into the snow and by 9:35 am I was on my way. Light snow was falling as I set out.

I saw one set of fresh footprints heading up and one set coming back. With snow starting at the car I was not sure I would have time for the 10 mile round trip. Without footprints to use I would be traveling even slower. In less than a mile the early hiker turned around. Now there were no prints in the fresh snow. At the turnoff for the new Kamikaze Falls trail I found footprints heading down and onto my route. Where did they start from? Those prints turned around shortly.

I had my GPS along as I wanted to check mileage. It was 1.75 miles to where the road finally begins to gain elevation. The snow was still only a few inches deep. A few switchbacks brought me to one at 2.5 miles with bootprints coming out of the forest. So this is where the Mt. Si Talus Loop connector trail comes in. The snow began to deepen and the new footprints helped my speed. The snow stopped and I took off my jacket. I was plenty damp with sweat after climbing while wearing a jacket.

At about 3 miles the bootprints became snowshoe prints. I was still fine booting it. At a leftward switchback at 3.5 miles I met the folks who had been making the tracks. I stopped to put on my new Atlas snowshoes while we talked. I headed out first setting a track in the now deeper snow. The snow was almost powder. It was very dry. Very unusual for the west side of the mountains let alone for near North Bend. I was already sinking in 6", almost down to the road bed. After two more switchbacks there is a small open view out. Nothing to be seen now but clouds.

One of other snowshoers caught up with me here. He took the lead for the steeper grade up to where the road flattens. Once there he stopped to wait for his group and I took the lead once again. The Teneriffe Road is not very scenic but after a heavy snow dump it really does look good. The trees were heavily flocked. Numerous small leafless trees hung low over the road weighted down with snow. Several chose to dump their load as I bent down to go underneath.

The road soon began to climb once again. My pace was slowing down even more. My last winter trip here did not hit snow until half way up and even snowshoeing the rest I reached Mt. Si in 2:40. At the 2:40 mark this day I was still short of the turnoff. I stopped when I did reach the turnoff for food and water. It was already about 12:30. The other three snowshoers soon caught up again. Two of us headed on towards Mt. Si. There were no signs of buried tracks. Completely untouched deep new snow. When the route turned to the right the other guy stopped to wait for his group. I continued on.

The snow was really nasty now. Completely unconsolidated and very deep. A few times I fell through to my waist. I knew I was close to Si and struggled ahead. Just one or two more people to trade the lead would have made a huge difference. I almost missed the last turn to the left. A big deciduous tree bent over with snow nearly blocked the route. The route straight ahead was obvious. I worked my way around the tree and kept going. Soon I came to a mess. No obvious route and a jungle of thin 12' tall alder trees forming a wall. I consulted the GPS and it suggested I bear left. All I saw was downhill through the thin trees.

I tried heading that way but I sank waist deep numerous times. More like swimming than snowshoeing as I clawed my way forward in the soft powder. I was only 1/4 mile and 100' vertical feet from the highpoint above Haystack Basin. Maybe 5 minutes without snow. Maybe an hour with this snow. I reluctantly decided to turn around. It was 1:15 pm. I've been to the top of Mt. Si in snow many times. There was no view to be had either. This day was more about the trip than the destination. Once I cleared the alder traps the way down was easy. Well, at least a lot easier.

When I reached the spot where I left the one snowshoer I found a flattened out spot where it looked like they had lunch. I never did catch up with them. Back at the Teneriffe Road there were no fresh tracks. No tracks heading up that road. The three of them had created a very nice trench. It was smooth sailing now. The sky even lightened up a bit. It was a straight shot back with just photo stops and snowshoe removal at the spot where I put them on.

Farther down I passed one person taking skis off his pack. He did not catch up with me coming down. There were a few more tracks lower down. I guess a few folks went for an easy walk in the snow. I reached my car at 3:20. It took only 2 hours to come down 5 miles. There were half a dozen cars in the lot.

The day was a success even without reaching the summit of Si. I had a lot of solitude and a little help with the trail breaking. I sure had a heck of a workout, even more than 10 miles with 3000' of gain would suggest. The snowshoes worked well though they were not designed to battle that much unconsolidated snow. Shorter is usually better with Cascade Concrete but the conditions were anything but that. All in all a very nice first snowshoe trip of the season.

Snow In The Lot
Thin Snow At First
Prints In & Out
"Not A Trail"
Snow Weighted Branches
Beautiful Simplicity
Branches Cover The Road
Snow Covers Everything
White Branched Tree
Snow Still Not Deep
Catching Trail Breaker
Deep Snow In The Open
Snowshoe Shot
Faint Buried Trench
Tree Walled Canyon
On Si Connector
Narrow With Deep Snow
End Of The Road
So Close Yet So Far
Heading Down
Snow Sculpture
Compacted Trench
A Little Sunshine
Sun Shines On Clouds
Teneriffe In Clouds
Sun, Snow, & Clouds
More Sunshine
I-90 In Clouds
Last Sunny Shot
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2010