West Rattlesnake Mountain

After a long snow drought to start the year we finally had a big dump at the start of March. Over 4 feet at Snoqualmie Pass. I only had part of a day so I did another close in trip. A report from two days earlier showed snow in the parking lot and all the way up the RMT to Grand Prospect. I pulled into the parking lot at 9:20 to find only four other cars. A little snow but the lot was nearly bare. I crossed the road immediately and thin snow covered the route. It was not icy but still a little slick. Too thin for traction devices. I carried snowshoes as the earlier report mentioned several feet of soft snow near the top.

There were a few completely bare spots in forest and then back on snow again. The big tree down across the trail at the next road crossing was cut out. There are no logs to cross all the way to Grand Prospect. As the snow became thicker a small trench appeared. It was slick but easy walking. When I reached the old road that heads over to Stan's Overlook I met two folks. They were about to head down. They were the only people I saw all the way up.

In the clear cut just above there some fresh snow covered the trail. I could see no new footprints. Where were the folks from the other cars. I never did find out. It was clear I was the first person up this far this day. The old tracks made following the trail a breeze. I have seen much deeper snow on top but this may have been the most snow I have seen at lower elevations on the trail. When I dropped down to cross the only bridge it was completely covered by snow. In the open clear cuts lower down it was so cloudy I could not see much at all. Now I was in dark old forest. It looked like views were not going to happen.

The trail wound around and finally came out on the old road. Once out of forest the snow depth doubled. It was now knee deep. I finally put on gaiters and kept going. The trench was hard and icy. It was too narrow for snowshoes so I just kept on booting it. Most steps held but occasionally I would post hole knee deep. It was even slower going now. Back in forest the snow was less deep then back in the open it was even deeper.

Slow and steady wins the race and I was slow and steady. At the viewpoint for a summit tower I could see nothing. The clouds were even thicker now. A little more slogging and I popped out at Grand Prospect. It was 12:02 pm. A time of 2:33 was my slowest ever. The benches were buried under snow. The metal map had one corner showing but the rest was buried. Call it about 2 1/2 - 3 feet of snow. Looking out I could see nothing. No Mt. Si, no North Bend, and no I-90. Back in 2008 we had a lot of lower elevation snow. Suzanne and I went up to the summit towers and found that the chain link fence was completely buried. Only a little of the barbed wire was snowing. I went back in the summer and figured there had been about 8 feet of snow. I was interested in just how much was there after our recent big dump.

In days gone by the RMT did not go on to the East Peak. an old road went straight up to the summit towers from Grand Prospect. It was closed off and is very brushy in the summer. Only when there is a lot of snow can one fairly easily climb \up to the towers. I put on snowshoes and headed higher. The brush was all covered but a few trees are down and more are bent over with snow load. It was more of a pain than I was expecting. My watch showed it was only a 110' climb. I popped out of the forest at the first tower.

The snow was just about half way up the fence. About 4 feet was above the snow so I calculate the depth at about 3 1/2 - 4 feet. Without snowshoes I think I would have been sinking in crotch deep. The top of the towers were going in and out of sight in the clouds. I had a quick lunch and headed down. No new footprints while I was on top. I dropped down to a viewpoint and met two hikers. They were having a good time though they were ready to turn around. The Cascade front peaks came into view periodically though not for long. I passed one more hiker above Stan's Overlook. I took the short trip over to Stan's and found some views at last.

Mt. Si was mostly in the open. It was not completely clear but much better than at any point earlier in the day. The last mile down I met three more groups. That was it. Very few people ventured out on this trail while I saw cars all along the road when passing High Point and Tiger Mountain in the morning. An extra 10 minutes of driving provided a whole lot more solitude. The hike down was a lot faster. I was back on the road before 3:00 pm. I hike this trail several times each year. It seems much more remote when buried under several feet of snow. Like a deep in the mountains experience only 30 miles from my house. The snow provided some different photos too. It turned out to be a fun day in the mountains.

A Little Snow Down Low
Deeper At The Crossing
Low Clouds
Small Trench
Mossy Branches
Snow On Bridge
Deep Out Of Forest
Depth Measurement
Heading Back To Forest
Gentle Grade
Deeper Snow
Grand Prospect View?
Sign Half Buried
Summit Towers
Snow 4 Feet Deep
Narrow With Deep Snow
The Gauntlet
Low Clouds Gone
Stan's Overlook
Mt. Si In Clouds
Mt. Si Close Up
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2011