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
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
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
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.
Click on thumbnails to get
Icy Parking Lot
Start Of The Ski Track
Gary Leads The Way
View Down Lake
Sunshine At Dam
Gary On Bridge
Pale Blue Water
Sun On Lake
Exit Avy Zone
Gary On Track