Horse Trail Ski
With two day
left in the year I was near my elevation gain goal but still well short
on mileage. I had to work half the day then I was free. I chose to head
up to the Hyak Sno-Park to get in a nice long and fast trip. It's as
flat as a pancake but that would be fine. With all the recent snow I
did not know if it was freshly groomed so I took my touring skis. A bit
wider than needed for groomed tracks but able to cut trail if
necessary. Last year I only made it out on skis one time. This year I
would get an earlier start to the season. It was 11:30 before I managed
to get out of town. By 12:30 I was on the trail.
The groomer had just come through and the tracks were in perfect shape.
It was overcast and cold but not too windy. This is a great aerobic
workout. It is about 6 1/2 miles down to the Lost Lake Road at the
other end of Lake Keechelus. The old railroad grade follows the west
shore of the lake. Sometimes the lake is in sight and often there is a
swath of trees blocking the view but also much of the wind. At about
one mile I reached Mill Creek and the start of the connector trail to
the Cold Creek groomed trail run by the ski area. It is also the route
of the Common Corridor for backcountry skiers. They can use the Cold
Creek route up to Windy Pass with no charge.
This day I was happy to stay on the level railroad grade. I crossed
Mill Creek then Cold Creek on bridges and soon reached the site of the
old snow sheds. When I began skiing the route there was no Sno-Park at
Hyak and I came from the other end of the lake. It was not groomed then
either. I used to ski around the southern shed and then walk through
the other one. Now they are gone and in high avalanche times the route
can be dangerous to cross. I was fine today.
From the open shed site it looks like a long way to the other end of
the lake. It is still some 4 miles away. I saw an occasional skate
skier but late afternoon mid week was a time for some solitude. I
crossed the bridge at Roaring Creek after 5 miles. The last 1 1/2 miles
seemed to take a long time. At long last I crossed the Meadow Creek
bridge and reached the Lost Lake Road. When I was last there two years
ago there was a chain link fence blocking the way across the Keechelus
Lake dam. Not so any longer. I saw some tracks heading over the dam.
I'll have to come back and check this out later.
With a number of photo stops my time down the lake was 1:30. Nowhere
near my best but not too bad either for 6 1/2 miles. After a short
lunch I headed back. It was pretty quiet until I reached the last few
miles. At Cold Creek a skater asked if I could take a photo of her with
her camera. She reciprocated and I now have one of the few shots of me
on skis. On the way back there are views out to the peaks around Gold
Creek. They were largely in clouds though they began to break up. I
made it back with about a half hour of daylight left. I took 1:37
There are not a lot of places I can get in 13 miles in just over three
hours. With daylight ending just after 4:00 pm this proved to be one
place I could work half a day and still get in the mileage before dark.
It was a very nice day to be out skiing and set me up to reach my goals
on the last day of the year.
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.
View Of Snowsheds
Dam In Sight
Roaring Creek Bridge
View Up Lake
Cold Creek Outhouse
Me On Skis
Trips - 2008