my business, Good Friday
is a holiday. I get a day off that few other people do. I almost always
get out for a hike with a lot of solitude. I mentioned to Gary that it
was coming up. He was free and John decided to take a vacation day to
join us. We had snow in the mountains at the start of the week. Gary
suggested a snowshoe hike. We decided on Kendall Peak Lakes. Gary and I
used to ski up to the lakes when only a few folks went up there. Later,
snowshoeing became very popular and we started running into big crowds
of them heading up as we skied down. Not being a great skier, I had
enough trouble skiing down an ungroomed road. Add in snowshoers walking
up side by side and it was just not much fun. We started snowshoeing up
the road most of the time. Our last
was on 12-30-19. We wanted to get out of town before morning traffic
picked up. We chose to meet at High Point at 7:15 am.
Traffic out of North Seattle was very light. I zoomed down I-5 and onto
I-90. I arrived at the High Point exit at 7:07 am. Gary and John
arrived just a few minutes later. I had the sno-park permit so I drove.
We headed over Snoqualmie Pass and exited at Hyak. There was only 1
parked car. Gary told him he had his lights on and was draining his
battery. He was not heading onto the trails. We were packed and on our
way at 7:52 am. We decided to start with snowshoes on our packs. There
was a packed trench with about 2" of fresh snow in it. Pretty good
conditions for just booting it. It was 29 degrees and completely
overcast. Right after the start is an old cement bridge. I recalled it
was damaged on our last trip. There is just a narrow strip connecting
the far end. We passed by easily enough.
The road starts flat and soon we turned left and started climbing. I
was expecting solitude for a late season snowshoe trip on a Friday. I
was a little surprised to see that there was nobody ahead of us. There
were no tracks on the new snow. The road climbs steadily. Never very
steep and never entirely flat. I was heating up quickly. The recent
snow had flocked all the trees. That made it look like mid winter and
not three weeks into spring. It was very pretty scenery to see and
photograph. The road is heavily forested. We could just hear the
highway but not see out. At one point we did have a small window to see
the ski area on the other side of I-90. There are a couple switchbacks
along the way. The trench did not get much snowier and we had no
trouble hiking in boots. A step outside the trench meant sinking into
soft foot deep snow. We stayed in the track.
After the switchbacks the road makes a ninety degree turn tot he right
and follows above a creek valley On the other side is a point that is
rapidly becoming reforested. It was a bare clearcut when I fist started
skiing up the road. Long ago I snowshoed to the top of it several
times. We continued up the road to the "T" junction. The road used to
drop left and cross the creek on a concrete bridge. The bridge has been
gone for some years now. Almost everyone turns right and follows the
road tot he ridge top. We stopped at the junction and took a break. It
was 9:38 am. We had covered exactly 3 miles in 1:46. Our usual route is
to cross the creek and go cross country up to the lakes. With a foot or
more of soft snow I was inclined to just follow the road in the packed
trench. Gary was up for a bit more of an adventure and I agreed to take
the shorter but more difficult option.
We pulled out our snowshoes to put them on. I slid my foot into the
first one and grabbed the rubber strap. If fell off in my hand. Not a
good sigh. The next one fell off without a pull. The entire binding was
very brittle. There was no way I could post hole in soft fresh snow
without snowshoes. Our chances of reaching even the lower lake now
looked pretty bleak. Ironically, a year earlier we snowshoed up the
Nordic Pass Trail across the highway and John had a binding strap break
in the middle of the trip. We turned around and another one broke. We
had to jury rig it for him to get back down. Now it was my turn. I had
been using my Lightening Ascents most of the time the past couple years
but I thought I had used these Denali Ascents fairly recently. Oh
The trench was getting a little snowier but it was still easy enough to
keep booting our way higher. The road section up to the ridge
top is on a steep slope. The snow was quite deep on the uphill side.
The trench was right near the steep drop on the right side. At the
ridge top we looked to see the trench conditions ahead. A trench turned
left and climbed the ridge towards the lakes. The more popular short
road to the right goes to a viewpoint called Kendall Knob. The track up
that was not in place. That was a surprise. It was doubtful that I
could get up there even following a track set by Gary and John.
Continuing towards the lakes was the best option. I was in the lead for
this section. Some folks turned around at the ridge top. Part way up
the ridge some more turned around. A trench was still in place but with
fewer folks compacting it it became softer. Every dozen or so steps I
post holed. I was only sinking in 5-6 inches but it was a lot more work.
We stopped one more time where the track left the road and headed left
to the lower lake. Gary and John went first and packed the track down a
bit. I followed. Now I was sinking in up to my knees in places. We were
close to the lake but I was moving very slowly. I was too close to
turnaround now. It took a while but I caught up to them at a flat spot
looking across and down to the lower lake. The middle lake was out of
the question but at least I saw the lower one. We stopped for lunch. It
was now 10:45 am. We had traveled just about 4 miles so far. There was
a cold light breeze that make it much colder than on the way up.
While we were there a couple skiers passed by heading down to
the lake. We did not see them again. Three hours into the day we saw
the first people. That never happens on a weekend on the route.
Our break lasted until 11:17 for Gary and John. I started back a bit
earlier since I was going to be so slow. Before leaving, I checked out
the other snowshoe. With one binding completely brittle it was a good
guess the other one was too. Except it was not. It was just fine. I put
it on and it helped a bit heading down. I replaced the original
bindings some years ago. All I can guess is that I only replaced one of
them. Now One foot stayed atop the snow and the other one sank down.
Better but now great. I was still pretty slow. We kept the snowshoes on
when we reached the road. I did much better dropped down the ridge. At
the bottom We saw a track was now in place heading up to Kendall Knob.
Gary and John headed up. I quickly fell out of sight. With just four
sets of snowshoes since the snow fell, it was still very soft. Now one
foot floated and one fell up to my knee. At one point a small tree fell
and created void. The others walked right over it. I fell in to my
crotch and still did not touch anything solid. It took some time and
effort to get out. It was only .30 miles up but it took me a long time.
I was beat when I reached the viewpoint. The two women who put in the
track were their too.
The view was great. Alta Mountain and Rampart Ridge went in and out of
the clouds. Lake Keechelus was below. Summit Central was just across
the valley. We picked out some tiny downhill skiers. John noticed that
one left was running. The sun now began to break out. The sky was still
partly cloudy but some sunshine really warmed us up. Soon, the camp
robber jays zeroed in on us. I was dive bombed a time or two while
eating a snack. Our early start was helpful. Even with my slow speed,
it was still only 11:59 am when Gary and John arrived. I did not record
my own gps track so I would guess I was about 5+ minutes behind them.
With the sunshine and some views it was hard to get motivated to leave.
We stayed until 12:28 pm. I did not want to get back to Seattle at the
peak of rush hour traffic.
The first .30 miles was a pain for me. Once back on the road it as much
better. We kept our snowshoe(s) on past the "T" junction. Where the
road leaves the creek valley makes a left 90 degree turn we stopped and
took them off. The two women passed us here.The road was a bit softer
in the afternoon but not a problem with just boots. On the way down we
saw two more groups of two. That brought us up to 8 people seen the
entire day. Not bad solitude on a very popular snowshoe route. The sun
on the flocked trees provided a different view than on the way up. I
also applied sunscreen when I took off my snowshoe. It was getting
pretty toasty. The last mile seemed to go on and on. I was pleased to
reach the flat part again. A few minutes later we crossed the broken
bridge and arrived at the car. It was 2:26 pm
I look forward each year to my Good Friday hike when I can do very
popular trails without the weekend crowds. This trip worked out great.
Fresh snow and flocked trees in mid April was a treat. We had just a
little snow fall on us but no rain. It was not very windy. The sun even
came out. Very nice conditions overall. It was my first snowshoe trip
of the year. The extra weight on your feet and wider steps take a toll
on muscles used to just hiking. With only one snowshoe and a lot of
sinking in and having to pull myself out of those holes it was tiring.
I would have preferred to use the snowshoes I carried much of the day
but it all worked out okay in the end. The only disappointment was not
being able to snowshoe u to the middle lake. It turned out to be a
great spring day for a winter-like snowshoe trip.
Click on thumbnails to get
Tree Over Trail
Guys At Switchback
John Leads The Way
First View Out
Better View Out
Snow Covered Tree
Break At Junction
Up To The Ridge
Clouds Just Above
Near End Of Road
Lunch Time Near Lake
Post Holing Back
Heading Down Road
At Kendall Nob
Gary At Kendall Nob
Deep Soft Snow
Ski Area Again
Nearing The Bottom