Thursday, January 29, 2009

Kelcema Lake 1/28/2009

I've been wanting to snowshoe to Kelcema Lake for quite a while. 3 years to be exact. The first time the trip was planned (in 2006), I got sick and spend the day in bed feeling miserable. The second time the trip was planned (in 2007), windstorm came and shattered our hiking plans all together.

When an unexpected opportunity presented itself of having a day off during the week, I knew this will be the perfect trail to go and explore. Third time the charm...Our mid-week trip turned out pretty good. The road was plowed all the was to Deer Creek and Martha's Subaru had no problems getting into a little snowy parking spot.

The trail was on a longer side - 9 miles RT. There was not much fresh snow around but there still was a fair distance of breaking the trail. Most of the trail took us up snow bound forest road and while gaining elevation we encounter several spots where damage to the road likely from recent storms was visible.

The whole route was very interesting but the last 0.4 miles was the most exciting part of the trip. That's where the trail left the road and took us through beautiful wintry forest.

Commonwealth Basin 1/24/2009

The trip turned out way better than expected. It was cloudy and
freezing when we started but the area of Commonwealth basin
immediately welcomed us with a splendor of frosted trees and calmness
of a stream running along the trail and the lack of sunshine was
quickly forgotten.

The snow was hard packed allowing for a fast progress; however we let
ourselves stop many times to admire beauty of the snow bound forest
and the amazing artful displays of frozen waterfalls and water
running under a thin layer of ice that nature decided to treat us
with along the way.

Then the clouds gave in and first rays of sunshine revealed the
amazing mountains that surrounded us. Kendall Peak shined in its full
beauty standing against now blue sky while Guye Peak maintained its
mystery feel by only partially peeking from still mostly cloudy west

We pushed little bit beyond the Commonwealth basin area and continued
uphill towards Red Mountain. This part was steep and got steeper as
we gained elevation but our effort was rewarded by fantastic views
from above the clouds once we broke from the tight forest into more
open area. We did not intend to summit so that's where we found a
good lunch spot and decided to call it a final destination for the

Lake Walhalla 1/18/2009

Sunday turned out to be rather cold but pretty good day to be out. The
sky was clear all the way to Stevens Pass and then we drove into a
fog. Usually it's the opposite way but fortunatelly the fog lifted
once we were on the trail letting us enjoy some of the much
appreciated sunshine.

We followed Smithbrook road for a while and then turned to proceed
through the forest. That's where the uphills started... and with them
came the views.

Our route took us to the lake overlook and from there we followed
snowshoe tracks little bit more up McCausland mountain; however it was
pretty windy up there and we did not have enough time to summit so
soon we decided to retreat back to the calmer area.

According to the "Snowshoe Routes in WA" book the trail is about 7.5
miles; however both road signs we saw along the way and GPS reading
Steven gathered suggested that the route was indeed 2 miles longer.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Mount Washington Trail - 01/04/2009

It was a nice morning and the sunrise was so beautiful when we drove
through the Duvall Valley; however the forecast made it clear the
weather will change to rather bad later during the day and up to 8
inches is expected at the Pass. With that in mind Chad did not feel too comfortable going over the pass and a quick change of plans took place.

We decided to stay closer to North Bend this time and headed for Mt.
Washington trail which turned out to be a great alternative. It was
longer and more demanding that our original destination but the beauty of wintry forest and fun of descending slopes cover in deep powder made for a fun adventure.

We ended up snowshoeing about 10 miles and gained about 2700 ft of
elevation. It was surely another great day in winter wonderland.