Annette Lake

     Annette Lake is one of my favorite close in hikes. I seem to find my way back there once or twice each year. It is especially nice when there is a fresh coating of snow on the trail. I was last there on January 18th of this year. It was 22 degrees that day with a cold wind blowing. It was nearly as cold this time but there was zero wind and it was much more pleasant. It was Julie's birthday and she wanted to spend part of the day in the mountains. I had not yet met 4 of the other 5 members of the group. We met in North Bend at 8:00 am and finalized the decision to go for Annette Lake. The drive to the trailhead was very nice as all the peaks were flocked in white. The road from the Denny Creek exit to the trailhead had some snow but presented no problems. The lot was completely covered with snow. It was about 30 degrees when we got started.

     There were several cars in the lot when we began and a couple more just arriving. Last January the bridge over Humpback Creek was being replaced. We had to detour via the Asahel Curtis Nature Trail. On this trip I had my first look at the new bridge. It was covered in snow. There were only a few footprints in the snow at this point. Even from the start all the trees were heavily flocked with snow. There was only about 6 or 8 inches at first. It was enough to make for a wintery scene but not enough to hinder hiking. At the railroad grade there were few prints. Just a few animal prints and a few hikers ahead of us. Another group was not far behind us as their dogs periodically joined us. The biggest problem with popular trails in the snow is when it's packed down and slick. With mostly fresh snow we had good footing. One group passed us and soon we passed others.

     Near the first open slope we stopped to put on snowshoes. By now there was only one set of prints and the snow was more than a foot deep. Snowshoes were not necessary but they were helpful. Besides, I hate to carry them all the way up and back down. With this being the first snow layer of the season there was virtually no avalanche danger on the open swaths we crossed. We soon entered forest for the last time and plodded on towards the lake. When we reached the lake I took a detour over to the outlet. Around the outlet was open water and the rest of the lake had a thin frozen cover. It was a high overcast and the summit of Silver Peak was in the clear. I rejoined the group just in time for lunch. Even at the lake it was still dead calm. This may have been the first time I have been there in winter conditions without any wind. It was a good thing as my thermometer read 24 degrees. We were dive-bombed by Camp Robbers as usual.

     The cold limited our time at the lake to about 20 minutes. It wasn't too bad as I stayed warm by laughing. This group was anything but stoic. Several of us kept snowshoes on for the start of the descent. We packed the snow fairly well on the way up. By the time we tromped it down again it was smooth and flat. At about the high point we stowed the snowshoes for good. We began to see some of the usual afternoon crowds. It was nice to have the lake to ourselves earlier as quite a few people made it up later. All those boots compressed the snow and made it much slicker coming down. Still it was fine, especially compared to what it would be like after a thaw and freeze. When we returned to the parking lot there were now more than a dozen cars. All in all, it was a great day. I think Julie had a nice birthday hike and the I know I enjoyed it. The conditions were just about as good as they could have been. Cold with no wind and fresh snow on the trail and on the trees. This was a good way to kick off snowshoe season.

Humpback Mt.
New Bridge
Humpback Creek
Group On Bridge
Cascading Creek
Break Time
Humpback Mt.
RR Grade
On The Trail
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