Kendall Katwalk

An early big storm hit the mountains last week. Lots of snow up high. Just a few weeks ago it was 80 degrees. Fall hit fast and hard. Add to that the government shut down. All national parks in the country are closed to all activity. That made choosing a destination a little more difficult. With sunshine expected I went with an old favorite for after the first snow dump of the season. The Pacific Crest Trail heading north from Snoqualmie Pass. I did not get an early start and it was 9:15 am when I started up the trail. It was only a little over 40 degrees but I warmed up fast. The lot was half full and I caught up with several groups quickly. One lone hiker went right by me. As has been the case this fall, there were lots of mushrooms in the forest. All the creeks had plenty of water. I wore my heavier boots and I had dry feet all day. Almost everyone else had light boots and soaking feet all day.

The trail remained snow free beyond the Commonwealth Creek trail junction. Views up to Snoqualmie and Red Mountains showed all the fresh snow up high. The long rightward switchback began snow free too. After crossing the creek the open section had snow. Lots of water running down the trail through here. Back in forest it was bare again. As I neared the switchback to the left there was snow. Soon it was nearly continuous though not deep. I stopped where the trail attained the forested ridge top for food and water. One group I passed earlier went by. A few more twists and turns and the trail dropped off the ridge and headed for the big open rock field below Kendall Peak. The snow was now deep enough to cover everything. It was very firm and easy to walk on. I carried microspikes but never did put them on.

As expected, the snow became deeper once out of the forest It was deep enough to cover all the rocks. A little slick but smoother than walking on the bare rocks in summer. The views were now outstanding. Guye Peak, Snoqualmie Mountain, Mt. Rainier, and other peaks to the west and south. Enough snow up hike to cloak all the peaks. I slowed down a lot as there were so many photo opportunities. Several groups went by me along here. It was no longer cool as the bright sun was very warm. Almost no wind as well. The route contours around Kendall then switchbacks uphill. A trench was in place making walking on the narrow trail and steep slope seem more secure.

Above the last switchback I recognized the route up Kendall Peak. it looked like a track went up though it also looked like a narrow avalanche. There were a number of slides that went across or just piled up on the trail. The next part is blasted out of rock. Quite a drop over the side. Traction was fine. I was concerned about where the trail turns onto a north facing slope. If it was frozen it would be dicey. It was not. I crossed over to the ridge top. Great views over to Alta Mountain, Three Queens, and even Mt. Stuart in the distance. A group was sitting at the viewpoint. The trail follows the ridge with a few ups and downs over to the Katwalk.

When I arrived there was a big group cooking lunch. Not a bad idea. Several others were there as well. Looking for a little more solitude I headed across the Katwalk. I have been across with fresh soft snow several times in the fall. This time the snow was much deeper. About two to three feet deep. It was also uneven. Some packed down spots and climbs up on deeper snow. Not dangerous to cross but you definitely wanted to not lose balance when post holing. At the other end is a wider spot that was perfect for my lunch break. Fantastic views. The blue sky and fresh snow encrusting all the peaks was fantastic. I might not be getting back to 6000' without snowshoes for awhile.

A short while later another hiker came across and joined me. We got to talking and it turns out he also posts trip reports at WTA as Steve & Eydie. We had a good conversation and time passed quickly. Steve left and I stayed a little longer. About an hour in total. I headed back at 1:25 pm. As I reached the other end of the Katwalk a hiker pointed up to three eagles flying overhead. That was a surprise. Heading down it quickly became clear that any snow that was in the sun was much softer now. Lots of slush, especially where the snow was thinner down lower. Like walking in almost frozen water. No problem with heavier boots but I would have been soaked in my lightweights.

It was clear coming down that there were now a whole lot of folks coming up. I passed a few dozen groups. Passing on the narrower blasted sections took care. I made better time but it was still slow walking down the now softer and more slippery snow. I even passed one group in snowshoes. They may have provided a little better traction but were far from necessary. Once off the snow I made much better time. Lots of mushrooms to enjoy on the way down. With about a mile to go I caught up with Steve and we hiked the rest of the way down together. I reached the bottom just before 4:30 pm.

This was an almost perfect hike. Snow free for the first two thirds and lots of snow up high. Great contrast with white on all the peaks. Another neat contrast is the fall colors down in Gold Creek while Alta and peaks above are in their winter white. Great views and photos as well. Now I just need to get in a good larch hike and my fall will be complete.

Leaves Changing Color
Framed Red Mountain
Dark & Light
Lundin Peak
4 km
Reddish Mushroom
Cascading Creek
Filtered Sunlight
Avalanche Swath
Denny Mountain
Mountain Ash
Guye & Snoqualmie Pks
Snow On Trail
View West
End Of Forest
Rock Field
Sun On Snow
Chair Peak
Snoqualmie Mountain
Chair Close Up
Mt. Rainier
Granite Mountain
West To Guye Peak
Hikers Heading Up
First Switchback
Near Kendall Pk Route
Ski Area Below
Lundin & Red Pks
Across Valley
Blasted Route
Cascade Crest Peaks
Jagged Ridge
Kendall Peak
Mt. Stuart
Three Queens
Alta Mountain
Back Of Katwalk
Chikamin Peak
Crest Peaks
Kendall Katwalk
Looking Down
Crossing Katwalk
Snowy Katwalk
Softening Up
Red From Katwalk
Heading Back
Ridge Close Up
Narrow Section
Crossing Rock Field
Turning Leaves
Red Once More
Many Colors
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2013