Kendall Peak Lakes

     I have been trying to get out for a snow trip for weeks. I finally found the time. With the snow so spotty I left the skis at home and brought along my snowshoes. Kendall Peak Lakes is a trip that starts out from a Sno-Park and quickly gains elevation. I hoped to get up into enough snow to warrant using the snowshoes. One of the nice things about Winter is that a moderately late start is still earlier than most. I reached the Gold Creek Sno-Park at the crack of 9:00 am and was the third car to arrive. I need to vent a little steam first. There is no gate at the bridge where snow usually blocks the route. In the morning there was about 6" of snow on the ground but the route was smashed down into a few inches of ice by vehicles. At about 1/3 mile is an unlocked gate. The tire ruts beyond the gate are a foot deep. The ruts continue on for about 2 miles. Just beyond the last switchback they end. Without the ruts the road would be good for ski and snowshoe travel. With them it's a chore for 2 miles. It will take several feet of snow to make the first mile easy to travel on now. While I would not try to ski the first 1 1/2 miles it is not too bad to snowshoe.

     Beyond the first 1 1/2 miles the going is OK and rapidly improves. Past the 2 mile mark it looks like winter. The trees were freshly flocked and fresh snow replaced compact ice along the route. There were fairly fresh snowshoe tracks although the compacted rut became smaller as more shoers likely turned around. By the time I reached the "T" where the road either turns right and climbs the ridge or drops to the left, the conditions were outstanding. This point is reached in about 3 miles. All the previous tracks turned right but I had planned on going left. I dropped down a short way and then left the road going up the hillside. The snow is not yet as deep as I usually see it here and has not compacted much. My route went through many small trees which are buried most of the Winter. I tried to avoid the tree wells but sank in many times. The distance to the first lake is not far but I was making slow progress as I slogged through the soft snow. The only tracks I saw for the next hour made by animals. I saw no human tracks at the first lake or the second. Snowshoeing through fresh snow so close to Snoqualmie Pass is a real treat. At the middle lake I stopped for lunch. It was about 30 degrees with no wind. The lakes are completely snow covered.

     After lunch I crossed the outlet and headed down to the first lake. From there I headed southeast to pick up the continuation of the road I followed for the first 3 miles. The short distance from the lower lake to the road saw me sink below my waist a number of times. Getting out of the deepest holes was a real chore. Once on the road the footing was firm again. A number of people ascended the road to this point but did not go over to the lakes. Hiking down the road was easy and afforded good views of Kendall Peak and the ski areas across the highway. Unfortunately, the low clouds blocked any longer views. After the low spot on the ridge, the route climbs a short way to a nice viewpoint. Up to this point I had seen 3 people early and none for the last several hours. A snack and some photos and I was ready to head on down. After dropping down off the ridge I met 2 snowshoers coming up. The last mile was filled with hikers, snowshoers, and 2 very brave skiers. The icy ruts could not be skied without skins so they were confined to tiny areas between the ruts and along the edges. When I reached the unlocked gate I was surprised to see 3 vehicles parked there. The last 1/3 mile was no longer 3" of packed down ice, it was now churned up ice and mud. It's going to take a few feet of snow to make the lower section skiable. In summary, I'm very disappointed to see that Sno-Park fees are being collected but vehicles are not being kept off the snow. Still, once I was above the damage the snow conditions were great. It's nice to get to a popular place and not see any signs of other people.

Rutted Road
Snoqualmie Mt.
Ski Acres
Ski Areas
Good Snow
 Click on thumbnails to see larger pictures.

Photo Page 2