Grand Prospect

Time for another winter after work hike. The snow level was down to 700' - 1000'. We chose not to do Tiger where the trailhead was below the snow level. Instead we decided to go to Rattlesnake Mountain. The west end of the Rattlesnake Mountain Trail (RMT) starts at about 1050', more than 500' above High Point at Tiger. Snow along I-90 at the Highway 18 junction. The road up from Exit 27 was bare though there was some snow on the sides. A little snow where we parked outside the gate. The gate closes at 8:00 pm. The parking lot was mostly snowy though a very thin coating. We were ready to get going by 4:40 pm. This was the first week after daylight saving time so dark would not occur until near 7:30 pm.

The snow stayed thin for the first half mile then began to deepen. Easy walking. It was snowing lightly when we started. It soon stopped and that was it for precipitation. In the first clear cut we passed a guy coming down. That was the first and last person we saw. Everything was covered in fresh snow. The ground was bare at this elevation just a few days ago. One big storm and lots of snow. We took a short clothing break at the power line corridor. There were no footsteps now but it was easy to break trail. When we reached the next road intersection steps reappeared. Someone must have walked that section of road. Not a bad idea as we had a lot of branches weighed down with heavy snow to push through. Rain jackets were a must.

At the turn off to Stan's Overlook the footprints ended for good. It took us just over one hour to reach the half way point at 2 miles. The snow was about a foot or more deep now. Back in forest the snow cover thinned. As we neared the bridge over the creek it was more out of the thick forest and the snow was deeper than ever. The snow made this trail look better than ever. Gary finally ended his trail breaking and John took over. The route was easy enough to follow though we had seen very little dirt from the start. From past winter experience I know the snow would be deeper when we left the forest and hit the old road section. It sure was.

I took over the lead. Wow! Much deeper than I expected. Two plus feet of soft totally unconsolidated snow. We brought one set of snowshoes but it was so soft I doubt they would have helped. The pace really slowed down. In addition to the deep snow there were trees bent over the whole road plastered with a lot of snow. I would a route around them as best I could. We made it back into forest and the going was easier. The trail left the old road and the snow depth increased. John took over the lead again.

There are several open spots where the depth was a whole lot more. John was near waist deep slogging through. With four of us along we did put in a bit of a trench which helped with the descent. At the two hour mark we were maybe 5 minutes from Grand Prospect on bare trail. A whole lot longer in very deep snow. I took over the lead one more time. At the last switchback we were only 100 feet or so from the viewpoint. It took another five minutes. I tried to go around a bent over tree and fell in past my waist. Four feet deep and no way forward. John went right and slogged through. Hard to believe that this far west there was nearly 4 feet of snow that fell in just a few days.

Thankfully there was almost no wind. At 28 degrees it was cold enough. Visibility was non existent. North Bend was down there somewhere. We slogged back into the trees for a food and water break. Dry gloves on we headed down. Four miles up in 2:20 was a new slowest pace ever. David started down first and Gary, John, and I started down at a relatively fast pace. Fast for the conditions but not all that fast. It was much easier with five sets of footprints already in place. Off the road and back in the forest we caught up with David. We left Grand Prospect at 7:20 pm and by 8:00 pm we turned on our headlamps. With all the snow the lights reflected great and really lit up the forest.

The rest of the way down was just a nice walk in the forest. We had a great time. It was a lot more effort than I expected but a normally easy hike became a little more of an adventure. It took us 2 hours to come down. We arrived at the deserted road at 9:40 pm. Easily the latest return on our headlamp hikes. There is only a week left in winter but it looks like mid winter on Rattlesnake Mountain.

Warning: Photos were taken with a cell phone in dim lighting. The results are not up to par.

Snow At Start
Group Shot
Deeper Snow
Flocked Trees
Snowy Log
Pushing Through Branches
Winter Wonderland
No Footprints On Bridge
Footprints On Bridge
Very Pretty
Heavily Laden Branches
John Breaks Trail
Waist Deep At GP
GP View
Buried Trail Sign
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2012