Kendall Peak Lakes

It looked like a pretty dismal weekend. Lots of rain in the lowlands and in the passes below 3500'. We kicked around a few ideas and decided to go for a snowshoe trip to Kendall Peak Lakes. The start is at only 2600' so we might have rain to start and finish. We met at Eastgate at 7:50 am. Traffic was especially heavy for that time of morning. It was lightly raining at my house and it kept raining most of the way to Snoqualmie Pass. We did lose most of the traffic at the pass. Rather than buy a pass on the Internet, we decided to see how bad the weather was before committing to a 25 day Sno-Park pass. It was overcast but not raining at Hyak. we went over to the big state park lot and purchased a pass. We headed back to Gold Creek and there were many cars parked but inexplicably the good spots next to the sanicans and the interchange were empty. We took one. By the time we were packed and ready to go it was 8:45 am. That is pretty late for us to start. The short road was the slipperiest part of the trip. The road was plowed but a sheet of ice.  I walked very slowly and managed not to fall. At the end of plowing is a car bridge. The end of it  has mostly eroded away. The dirt walkway is only a couple feet wide.

It was windy at first but that did not last. We chose not to put on snowshoes at first and that was a good decision. The track was well packed and our boots did not sink in at all. We passed a few slower hikers who were wearing snowshoes.  As we ascended, we entered the mist.  The trees became flocked with snow and visibility minimized. We had a little light rain and light snow. It was very light. When we reached the viewpoint over to the ski area we saw nothing. Not the highway below and not the ski area. We were completely in dense clouds. Just before we reached the switchback to the right we went above 3500'. Any precipitation should be snow now. The snow began to be less consolidated as we neared what we call "The T". The road makes a sharp right turn and climbs up to the ridge top. Years ago, it was a T junction. A road went left, crossed the creek on a bridge, and climbed up a clear cut point.

We used to turn left, cross the bridge, and go off trail to the lower Kendall Peak Lake. There ere tracks at the junction but we could not see a track heading left. We put on our snowshoes and decided to go left. The bridge is long gone so we had to drop down to cross the creek. Sometimes, with less snow, it is challenging to get down and climb back up. This day it was easy. We sank a consistent 4-6 inches with each step in the soft snow. We no longer had a packed trench to walk in. The grade down and up was fine. There was a snowbridge across the creek. We continued  along the old road until Gary spotted an old spur road heading uphill. We stopped to take off a layer as breaking trail uphill really heats you up. Years ago it was easy to navigate the clearcut. Now trees have grown up and we aimed to avoid any thickly packed trees. Gary did a great job and we had no trouble climbing uphill.

The grade flattened and we descended slightly to a big meadow. It was now snowing. I put on a windshirt. Along with the light snow the wind was now blowing at times. It was really cold taking off a glove for photos. From the meadow, we climbed again. This led to the lower lake. On our off trail route we ran into ski tracks several times. At the lower lake we picked up a track heading up to the middle lake. At the lower lake we saw a group on the other side of the snow covered lake. We arrived at the middle lake at 11:13 am. The wind was gusting into double digits. We went down to the shore and had our lunch break. Snow was blowing off trees at the left end and gusting down the lake. It was much windier out there than on the shore. I put on my jacket for a fourth layer. Everything but my puffy layer.

We spent a chilly 31 minuter at the lake. I was ready to get going again. Our last snowshoe trip was to Lower Kendall Lake on 4-15-22. On that trip My rubber bindings on my other snowshoes broke. First one and then the other binding. I had to post hole my way out from the lake to the trench on the ridge. That was no fun. Our next previous snowshoe trip together was to Nordic Pass on 1-09-21. That day, John's snowshoe binding broke and he had to boot it out. We ended up hiking to near Granite Lakes that day. On this trip we joked that it was Gary's turn to have a snowshoe break. His did not. As we left the middle lake John's binding broke off his snowshoe. Uh oh... His other snowshoe was doing the same thing. We had that good trench down to the lower lake. On the way the second snowshoe broke. John was doing fine without them. Crossing the lake we came to a point where there was slush. We had to cross it. It looked bad but I was able to walk across it.

After that we had to follow the trench through a forest of small trees to the ridge top and the end of the road we followed on the way up. In a spot near a tree John fell in knee deep. Otherwise, it went well. At the ridge, the trench was very compacted. John had to trouble walking all the way up from there. I was afraid the ridge would be wind blown but that was not the case. There was some wind but it was not bad. The hike down the ridge was fast and scenic. The trees were heavily flocked with fresh snow. Farther down the trees are tall with a wide swath through them. Very scenic. Since John had no snowshoes, we passed on a trip out to the viewpoint. There would have been no views anyway. We passed other people at times all the way down.

On the road down from the ridge to the "T" junction the trees were especially beautiful. We stopped for a lot of photos. We took a short break back at the junction. It did not look like anyone else had followed the track we had set in the morning. We had exactly 3 miles to go. The trench was even more compacted than on our way up. It was soft if you stepped out of the trench. Farther down it was much different. It looked like a lot of people went part way up and then went down. The trench turned into a wide packed road. At the last big switchback left we stopped and Gary and I took off our snowshoes. The last mile seemed to take forever. The rain held off all the way down. We reached the car at 1:51 pm.

This trip worked out much better than we expected. The rain held off. At most, we had a little wet mist. Having a little snow falling was fine. We did see other people but far fewer than on most weekends. Perhaps the overcast and rain west of the crest kept people away. The wind up high was an annoyance but most of the trip had little to no wind. We did keep our streak alive at three straight broken snowshoes. I hope that one does not continue. Most of the trip had heavily flocked trees and that is always a treat. When I drove home from Eastgate it was raining most of the way. We left Seattle for the mountains and missed out on the rain. That is a real treat on a winter weekend.

Icy Sno-Park
Starting Uphill
Quick Break
Trees Are Now Flocked
Nice Scenery
Gary & Mist
Better Visibility
Across The Creek
Breaking Trail
Onto Spur Road
Off Trail Snowshoeing
Photo Time For John
Big Meadow
Heading On
John At Lower Lake
Lower Lake
Middle Lake
Gary At Lake
Crossing Lower Lake
Slushy Spot
Big Post Hole For John
Looking Back To Lakes
Big Trees
Back In Clouds
Out Of Cloud
Snow Covered Tree
Old Viewpoint
Descending from "T"
More Flocked Trees
Leaves In January?
Narrow Passage
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2023