Kendall Lakes Road

     I had to work in the morning but I managed to get out of town by 9:30. I arrived at the Gold Creek Sno-Park to find only about a dozen cars. By 10:45 I was on my way. I had no idea about the snow conditions so I took snowshoes instead of skis. There is no berm at the bridge to keep cars from driving up the road. Thankfully none did this day. It was in the high 20s and the well packed road was very hard. The good part is that it was hard snow and not ice. I had traction but did not sink in. With these conditions I kept my snowshoes on my back to start. After about a mile I caught and passed two skiers. The recent snow had heavily flocked all the trees. It was partly sunny with some views beginning to open up to the ski areas below. After the first two switchbacks I put on my snowshoes. I still did not need them but I was beginning to sink in just enough to mar the route for skiers. At the final switchback I passed two more skiers. As the road began to turn up the valley away form I-90 the clouds closed in. Two more skiers were taking a break here.

     It was strange to have passed 6 skiers while on snowshoes. At the "T" where the road road drops left or switchbacks and climbs right I took the right turn. The way continued to be firmly packed down. Up on the ridge top it was much colder. I met two more skiers here who were about to head down. After a food break I headed up the ridge. There were only a few tracks up the ridge and it was still pretty easy. I reached the point where I could head over to the lakes. There were no tracks to follow and the snow was very soft off of the ridge. I chose not to slog along in knee deep snow. Instead I explored higher up the ridge. The underlying road headed higher and ended at a flat area with nice views up towards Kendall and out the Gold Creek valley towards Keechelus Lake. I also had an unusual view of Alta Mountain. At first I didn't even recognize it. After taking quite a few photos I headed back down. At the low point where the road reaches the ridge I headed straight. In 1/4 mile I reached the viewpoint. It was too cloudy now to see much. There was no point staying with no view so down I headed. On skis it would have been a fast descent. On snowshoes it was a slow one.

     In the first few miles I passed only a few more people. The weather varied between snow and sun breaks. At no time was in unpleasant. As I passed the switchbacks the crowds began. Half a dozen groups were coming up. In the last half mile the usual obstacle course ensued. People walked 4 abreast blocking the whole road. At least it was easier to get around them on snowshoes than skies. Even with my late start I was up and down by 2:15. Doing 3 of the 9 miles without snowshoes sped up the trip significantly. Totals for the day were 9 miles with 2200' gained. For such a nice day the upper road was surprisingly uncrowded. This turned out to be a great day in the mountains.

Near The Start
Hard Packed Road
First View
Sun On The Snow
Ski Acres
Looking Down  Road
Low Clouds
Gold Creek Valley
View Northwest
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

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