Kendall Peak Lakes

Snoqualmie Pass saw more than a foot and a half of new snow in the preceding two days. The snow level was down under 1000' and the avalanche danger was considerable above 4000'. Where to go? Kolleen, Bob, and I thought it over and settled on either Dirty Harry's Peak or Kendall Lakes. We met in Bellevue at the rather late hour of 8:15 AM and headed east. We turned off at Exit 38 and followed it around towards the trailhead for Dirty Harry's. The gate was locked adding a mile and a half round trip to that 11 mile trip. There was a little snow at that low elevation. We decided to fall back on Plan B. We headed up to Snoqualmie Pass.

This day started a little bizarrely. Just out of Issaquah and a little before Preston we passed a car going very slowly in the right lane. There were a few snowflakes coming down here. The road was completely bare. The slow car had chains on! Very strange. We had clear road all the way up and over the pass. There was a little snow at the Gold Creek Sno-Park. As we walked towards the start we passed a group getting ready to go. They had a dog in a pink sweater with dark booties. The dog seemed to be embarrassed as the colors obviously clashed.

Once on the way the route was well packed down. The sign at the summit read 27 degrees and it was cool but not overly cold. We started by carrying our snowshoes. The trench was packed but step a foot off to the side and one sank into several feet of unconsolidated snow. We made good time up the road. At least I thought so. When a view finally opened up we stopped for some photos. A minute later a lone snowshoer caught up and passed us. He was really moving.

The road finally turned away from the highway and up the valley. We soon began to posthole a little and it was time for the snowshoes. I usually use by short MSR shoes but with all the fresh snow I opted for my old Atlas 30s. The going continued to be pretty easy. At the "T" intersection we met two of the morning trail breakers. Another group of 4 or 5 were not far ahead now. The route switches back and climbs to the ridge top. Part way up we passed the next group. Now we were following only the lone snowshoer. He had short MSRs and was really working in the deep snow.

At the ridge top we met a duo who were heading down after camping on the ridge top the previous night. They had a great time. After a short break we headed up the ridge. Now we had just a single track and the going was a bit harder. As we climbed a group of two skiers went on by. We also now saw the lone snowshoer. If I had been breaking trail alone I would wait for the approaching help. This guy just kept plowing ahead. Even so, we soon caught up and gave him a well deserved rest.

The route climbed and we looked for a good spot to head over towards the lower lake. The snow was really soft and deep once off the ridge. We slogged along and down to the lower lake. There was no way to get over the outlet so we headed around the right side of the lake. In the open the snow was about waist deep in places. In the trees it was not as bad. we set a rising traverse uphill.

It was slow going. Greg the lone snowshoer had turned around at the lower lake. The skiers also stopped there. We were alone in breaking trail. With the trees so heavily flocked it was very beautiful. We climbed up into the clouds and now had a few spots of blue sky along with a little light snow falling. The wind was very gentle and it did not seem all that cold though it was.

At long last the terrain began to look familiar. A last climb and we leveled off and proceeded to the middle lake. There were no other tracks here. It was now past 12:30 and time for lunch. It took us about 3:15 to slog up about 4 1/4 miles, not blazing speed, but helped a lot by the early trail breakers. We were finally getting cold as we packed up for the descent. It must have taken us a good 30-40 minutes to climb from the lower to the middle lake. It took just under 10 minutes to follow our trench down. As we hiked over to the ridge road the sun began to come out...a little. The sun, clouds, and snow were very nice.

We made good time hiking down the ridge. At the ridge top intersection we chose to go straight towards the viewpoint on the knob. A trench was now packed all the way out. At the viewpoint we met two skiers. It was now clear enough to see Lake Keechelus and all the ski areas across the valley. The hike down was pretty easy as the trench was now very well packed down. We did not see huge crowds but did pass a steady stream of folks still coming up. There was a larger than usual representation of skiers this day.

Down near the bottom were the usual number of sledders. This is the most dangerous part of the trip as they come shooting down at you with no warning. We made it down with more than an hour of daylight left. This proved to be a very good choice this day. We were on snow the whole day but only had to cut trail for about a mile. The heavily flocked trees looked terrific. The middle lake was deserted and had plenty of solitude. After two snowshoe trips where we failed to reach our destination it was nice to have some success again. It was just plain nice to be out on the snow.

Pink Sweater?
Start Of Route
Deep In Forest
Still No Snowshoes
Knob In Clouds
Nearing Ridge
Ridge Top
Flocked Trees
Up The Ridge
Sucker Hole
Neat Lighting
Minimal Trench
Trail Pair
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Photo Page 2

Trips - 2006