Both Suzanne and I had hiked the day before. We were
looking for a close in hike that would not be icy after the sub freezing temperature
over night and the lingering snow in the mountains. Just as we reached the
freeway we changed our minds again and decided on Mt. Margaret near Snoqualmie
Pass. I first hiked this trail over to Twin Lakes some 20+ years ago. I did
not go back until just a few years back. I have now done this trail up to
the summit of Margaret four times in the last three years. All were entirely
or at least partly on snow. This was by far the least snow I have seen while
hiking the mountain.
We had a moderately early start and reached the parking lot by around 8:30.
There was one truck with a frozen windshield in the lot. It was sunny but
cold as we headed up the road. Two of my previous trips started all the way
down at I-90 elevation. Reaching the parking lot with no snow makes this a
fairly short trip. A few switchbacks in the road and we reached the actual
start of trail. I'm used to just plowing straight up on snow. The actual dirt
trail is very gentle as it gains elevation.
The higher we went the warmer it became. I checked weather stations in the
morning and found it to be 15 degrees warmer at the tops of the Stevens Pass
and Alpental ski areas than at the bottoms. This cloudless inversion proved
to be true for us as well. We found a few small snow patches on the trail
then a few more as we entered the forest. It was still mostly bare ground
as we switchbacked up towards the ridge top.
At the ridge top intersection there was some snow but still some bare ground
as well. The back side of the ridge had more snow and ice. We chose not to
descend to Margaret Lake and instead turned left towards Mt. Margaret. Within
a few hundred feet we left the trail and headed up, staying near the ridge
top. The going was easy as we seemed to find and lose a climbers path several
We made good time and soon were approaching the false summit. This can be
a little bit of a chore to ascend in the snow. It is fairly steep and one
must traverse left under the summit to avoid a small cliff. Seeing it without
snow for the first time it was an easy walk up. The climbers path continues
over the false summit and then descends about 100' down a moderately steep
slope. With snowshoes it has always been fairly easy to descend. With patches
of thin wet snow it was a little harder. I managed to slip and slide on the
snow and needles. I almost ran into Suzanne but was able to stop in time.
Once at the saddle we just had another 250' of climbing to go. The thin
snow made for reasonable foot hold on the way up but I was a bit concerned
about getting down without more unexpected butt slides. In just a few minutes
we were on the summit. It only took us a little over 1:30 to hike on up.
The early morning sun nicely highlighted the many peaks around us. Mt. Rainier
had the beginnings of a lenticular cloud on top. It had been so clear at
the day before.
To the northwest we could see clearly from Snoqualmie Mountain to Lundin,
Red, Kendall, Thomson, Chikamin, Alta, Lemah, and points farther north. Of
course we could see Mt. Stuart. Thorp Mountain lookout was another possible
trip this day and I could just make it out. Silver Peak is close to the elevation
of Margaret but had much more snow on it's north side.
Is was much warmer than the trailhead had been. We were not in a big hurry
and spent about an hour on the summit. Even with the long summit stay it was
well before noon when we headed down. The first section proved not to be
a problem. We had good footing in the thin wet snow. One last short climb
brought us back to the false summit. In now time we dropped back down to the
More switchbacks through the forest and we were back out in the open. I
must say that this long standing clear cut is finally growing back. Trees
are again enclosing the trail. Near the clear cut we met the first group
hiking up. We met more as we continued to descend. Not a summer sized crowd
but more than a few people out to enjoy a sunny fall day in the mountains.
This was a fast trip to a 5580' viewpoint not far from the Cascade crest.
We saw many mountains as well as Laura, Lillian, Twin, Margaret, Yvonne, Stones
Throw, and Rock Rabbit Lakes. Most of the lakes were not yet frozen. For
the day we hiked about 6 miles with 2300' of gain. This and Silver Peak may
be the shortest hikes to such great views in the Snoqualmie Pass area. Next
time I'm up seeing views like this I'll probably be on snowshoes.