Hyak To Dam

Martin Luther King Day is a holiday on my business and Gary joined me for a cross country ski trip at Hyak near Snoqualmie Pass. We met at High Point at 7:30 am and I drove east. We arrived at the Hyak parking lot at 8:05 am. There were a dozen or so cars already in the lot. The lot opens at 8:00 am. It was 29 degrees. We started out at 8:07 walking across the slightly icy parking lot. We had a lot of snow recently followed by some rain. Many avalanches covered ski trails. I hoped this one by the lake would be n better shape. The snow was very hard. The groomed track was not very deep. Good fast conditions but not a track to hold my skis well. Still, not bad conditions. We could see one skate skier out ahead of us as we started out. Thankfully, the wind was very light. This route is very long and has almost no elevation gain or loss. I could not even round it up to 100' round trip.

Last year I managed to get out skiing one time. That was a trip from my home around northwest Seattle. The year before, I did one short ski and snowshoe trip to Bible and Cheese Rocks on the WF Teanaway River. I was happy to be doing a flat trip to reacquaint myself with cross country skiing. In addition, I did a hard hike two days earlier on Tiger Mountain. I spent 7 hours doing a 7 mile hike. It included a lot of trail maintenance including sawing out logs. My arms and legs were a bit tired before we started. Gary had done a ski trip a few days earlier and he was a bit tired as well. We made good time without pushing hard. Hiking at three miles per hour is hard. Doing it on skis with packed snow and no hills is not. I seldom take photos when skiing but this day I planned for lots of photo stops. There was a mix of blue sky and clouds with clear views of the peaks near the pass.

We cruised down the trail with a few short views out to Lake Keechelus and peaks behind us. At the open section along the lake shore we had very nice views. Gary pointed out a spot where the frozen iced over lake had a crack all the way across it. We could clearly see the work done rebuilding Interstate 90 on the opposite side of the lake. Sections raised up where avalanches can pass under the roadway and fences up the avalanche gullies to catch and slow the avalanche snow. At the far end of the lake we could see the dam. That would be our ultimate objective if our legs and arms held up. Part way across the open section where two snowsheds used to stand we had a short bump to ski over. This was where snow slid across the track. This is not a safe place when avalanche possibilities are high. This day it was fine.

A few skate skiers went on past us but the traffic was very light. Just what we had hoped would happen. The track was well packed and very hard. Off to the sides there was a lot of not consolidated snow. I think I would have fallen in quite a ways. On the track we were fine. The grooming vehicle came up on us quickly and went on by. He was grooming the center and the left side track. We stayed on the right side. I checked out the new track and it was worse than the one we were using. The groomer broke up the hard icy snow a bit but did not leave a smooth track. We had reached the open section at 2.7 miles. Our next objective was Roaring Creek at 4.7 miles. We were getting tired but still felt okay at that point. I wanted to keep going and Gary was fine with that. We soon began to see folks coming towards us. We were now much closer to the Crystal Springs Sno-Park than the Hyak one where we started. They were smoothing out the new broken up track we would use on our way back.

After another half mile we could see that the dam was getting close and decided to continue that far. The metal railroad bridge over Meadow Creek was caked in snow. Just a few minutes later we reached the junction with the Lost Lake Road. The grade continued flat ahead. To the left and right is the Lost Lake Road. The turn off to the dam is also just left. We followed that path just off the road and sat down for a lunch break The sun was now out and it felt really nice with no wind and the sunshine. It was early for lunch at only 10:00 am. We had skied 6.2 miles in about 1:50 including a number of photo stops. The road is heavily used by snowmobiles from Crystal Springs. I have never seen the road groomed without any snowmobile tracks on it. We wondered if they could not use the sno-park for some reason. No noise or smells of gas as we sat near the road. We did see a few groups of skiers gong by.

It was still early and so nice and warm and bright that we were not in a hurry to leave. The past few days in Seattle we had an inversion. Fog all day long down low and bright sunshine a thousand feet above. On my Tiger Mountain hike I climbed above the fog and had sunshine up higher. The bright light was nice after days of dark gray all day long. We finally packed up and headed back just before 10:40 am. The track was still not very deep and I skied out of it continuously but other skiers had smoothed  down the broken up track I tried on the way down. We made pretty good time on the first 1.5 miles back to Roaring Creek. Just after that I took a video of Gary skiing away from me. By the time I started up he was quite a ways ahead. I picked up my pace considerably and very slowly began to catch up. Emphasis on slowly as Gary had picked up his pace. By the time he stopped and I caught up we had covered about 1.5 miles. The last mile Gary did at over 4 miles per hour. I was just a bit faster. We were half way back and I was now feeling it.

The day of cutting logs and moving branches on Tiger Mountain then this first ski trip in a year and now a fast mile after already skiing over 8 miles and my arms and legs were getting sore. We dropped the pace to a more comfortable level the last 3+ miles. I kept waiting for the later starting crowds to reach us and it kept not happening. The first few miles are mobbed on a weekend. This was a Monday but it was a holiday for many folks. We never had to ski around a slower skier ahead of us. I was happy to see the parking lot though we still had a ways to go. At the end we clipped out of our skis and both felt a jolt as we started walking on the pavement. It was around 12:30 when we finished;. The parking lot was nearly full though there were a few open parking spots. There must have been a lot of tubers on the tubing hill because there were too many cars for the relatively few folks we saw on the ski route.

I was glad to finally get out on skis again. I hope to get out many more times this year. Some new snow atop the hard pack would be nice before I try any long downhills. It was a challenge for both Gary and I to ski about 12.4 miles after strenuous trips a few days earlier. Especially when skiing uses some different muscles than hiking. Those are the muscles that were complaining on the trip back. The weather was about perfect and the crowd was way less than expected. The snow was hard but pretty fast. Good conditions for my first ski trip of the year.

Icy Parking Lot
Start Of The Ski Track
Big Crack
Looking Back
Gary Leads The Way
View Down Lake
Snoqualmie Mountain
Narrow Section
Sunshine At Dam
Groomed Road
Gary On Bridge
Meadow Creek
Deciduous Trees
Short Break
Pale Blue Water
Sun On Lake
Roaring Creek
Avalanche Fencing
Exit Avy Zone
Home Stretch
Snowy Room
Gary On Track
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2022