Granite Lakes2

John Sluder joined me for a hike up the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River Valley. The forecast had high winds up high. We chose hot to head for a summit. Instead we set out for a hike to two lakes. I checked the weather in the morning and it was clear we were in for a day of unusual conditions. The temperature in Issaquah was 22 degrees. At Poo Poo Point, 1700' right above Issaquah, it was 40 degrees. We met at High Point at 8:00 am. On my drive it was 28 degrees in North Seattle, 37 on the I-90 floating bridge, and 30 when passing I-405 just a few miles farther. It dropped to 22 in Issaquah and rose to 26 at High Point. The road at High Point was white with frost.  I drove us east to the trailhead. Along the way, it was 38 degrees at the start of the MF Snoqualmie Road. Two miles later at the Mailbox Peak Trailhead, it was down to 26 degrees. We pulled into the Granite Creek parking lot where it was 23 degrees. The lot was white with frost. The crazy temperatures continued on our hike.

We were packed and ready at 8:30 am. We started hiking at a fast pace to warm up. Half a mile later we were warm. It was up to 34 degrees. Time to take off a layer. There was a little fall leaf color down low. There were also frosty leaves. At 1.1 mile, we reached the old Granite Creek road/trail. The bridge over Granite Creek was covered with icy packed snow. The trail was bare before the bridge and for a little way after. Then we started seeing short icy patches. With poles we did not have any problems We did have to step over half a dozen or so logs down across the trail. One is just after the bridge. None were much of a problem. There area creeks that cross the trail. None posed a problem crossing with dry boots. There was water but the level was low.

We did start to see the sun directly ahead. It was still low in the sky but added a bit of warmth when it reached us directly. One of the reasons for the low morning temperatures was the clear sky. We had blue overhead all day long. Soon the icy patches became longer. There was a little snow on the sides of the trail. When the grade steepened I started to lose traction. We continued a little longer before stopping to put on microspikes. This really helped with traction. Unfortunately, there were still bare patches of dirt and rocks. Not the best place to use spikes but it was worth it to stay upright. Crossing a few streams on rocks was interesting.  We reached the junction of the Granite Lakes and Thompson Lake Trails. We turned right for Granite Lakes. The trail descends crossing the largest creek of the day. The snow became a bit deeper though still only 3-4 inches deep.

We kept on our microspikes for the log and rock crossings of the outlet creek. We arrived at Upper Granite Lake at 10:36 am. There was one or maybe two groups together at the lake shore. We post holed through deeper snow to find a spot for our break. The temperature was above freezing for most of our hike in. When we dropped down to the lakes it cooled quickly. It as 30 degrees at the upper lake. The lake basin was in shade as the sun did not rise high enough to shine over the ridge above. We stopped long enough to eat and drink and put on gaiters. The big group left before us. We had a little solitude before a lone hiker arrived. We had passed him on the trail earlier. We took photos and talked with the new arrival. We packed up and headed out at about 11:00 am. We met a few more groups coming in as we headed out.

We took a short detour to the viewpoint above Lower Granite Lake. Gaiters were helpful as the snow was a bit deeper away from the trail. The boulder field was snow covered where we stopped. The lake was in sunshine and a minute later so were we. It was so much warmer in the sunshine. I was not in a hurry to head back into the shade. Most of the lake had a thin coating of ice. The far side, most in the shade, was open water. That seemed strange. The stop seemed short but my photos show we were there for more than 20 minutes. We then headed back tot he trail. Up we went to the junction. I hoped to get in a little more distance and elevation gain and John was fine with heading up the road/trail towards the Defiance Trail and Thompson Lake. In July Gary and I did the same thing on a warm summer day. The road is a little rocky but is was better with a layer of icy snow. Much smoother.

We went beyond where Gary and I turned around and continued to the start of the Defiance Trail. On the way we passed a lone guy and then a woman farther up. They each made it to Thompson Lake. We did not have time for that but I was pleased to make it to the trail beginning. On my first two visits to Thompson Lake I found a trail sign a short way along the route. Now there is a new sign marking the trail right at the beginning. I'm not sure if the very old sign is still there. We took another break here. There was a breeze blowing. It was not too bad but it was chilly. Climbing out of the lake basin had brought the temperature well above freezing once again. I was glad we had chosen a destination that was in the wind all day. This was our highest point of the day. It was almost all downhill now.

We made pretty good time on the way down. The packed ice was fine with microspikes. After one long dirt patch we took them off. The ice began again and I almost took a tumble. They went back on. I was glad to be down with the last of the ice. Well, almost. The bridge was still packed ice. After than we had dry trail coming down. We checked the gps at the last junction with the trail back to the parking lot. We were about .40 short of an 11 mile day. We continued down the old Granite Creek route for .20 miles and came back. The last 1.1 miles was easy hiking. I was getting  a bit tired near the end. We made it back to the parking lot at 2:52 pm The parking lot was still white with frost. The temperature was back down to 34 degrees. We were quickly on the road for home. The temperature read 34 as we passed the Mailbox Peak lot. When we climbed up to the school near the end of the Middle Fork Road it was up to 44 degrees. A 10 degrees rise in just a couple miles. We hit 50 degrees on the drive back. I dropped John off at High Point where the road was still frosty white. It had not melted at all.

This turned out to be a fun trip. 23 degrees was a little chilly at first but once out of the valley bottom the temperature rose fast. The valley did protect us from high winds. We saw two lakes. One was cold and shaded an the other was basking in sunshine just as we were. The snow was not deep and the packed ice was fine with spikes. We saw people on and off but it was never crowded. It was a fun sunny November day in the Cascade Mountains.

Frosty Parking Lot
Cold Start
Quickly Much Warmer
Granite Creek View
Trees Down
Creek From Bridge
John On Icy Bridge
Snowy Ground
Blinding Sun
Mailbox Peak
Microspikes Time
Creek Crossing
Tiny Waterfalls
Deeper Snow
Nearing Upper Lake
Upper Granite Lake
John Shoots Lake
Shady Lake
Near Lower Lake
Lower Granite Lake
Long Shadows
Ascending Again
John At High Point
Mt. Teneriffe
Interesting Phenomenon
Bare Ground
Recrossing Bridge
Big Mossy Rock
South Bessemer Mt.
Leaves Still Frosty
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2022