Amabilis Mt. & Cedar Butte

We had a sunny day on tap with minimal avalanche risk. Gary wanted to get out for a ski trip to Amabilis Mountain. I had not been cross country skiing since last winter. It had not snowed in days and we have had several freeze/thaw cycles the past few days. It might be an icy mess. I agreed to go anyway. We did bring boots just in case it was too icy so we could go somewhere else. We met at Eastgate at 7:30 am and headed east. It was 33 degrees as we neared Snoqualmie Pass but quickly dropped to 29 degrees as we crossed to the east side. We cruised into the Cabin Creek sno-park lot at 8:15 am. There were only 9 or 10 cars there. It was sub freezing but there was on wind. A fine blue sky day was getting started. We walked across the overpass and started out at 8:26 am.

The route had been recently groomed. A short distance brought us to the start of the road up Amabilis. The snow is not deep but was sufficient. The groomed snow was hard. As we climbed a very thin coating of new snow was apparent. Just enough to provide a little grip. The road was smooth enough to provide hope for some braking ability on the way down. It was definitely more ice than snow though. We saw what looked to be a track down low but soon it seemed that we were the first folks up since the very light snow fell. A skater went by us then later one more.

We reached the junction, about two miles up at 9:25 am. It took just about one hour so far. Gary checked out the road to the right and found it to be non groomed and really icy. We headed up the left groomed road. One of the skaters zoomed on by heading down. Just one person was ahead of us now. Most of the way up the trees were green. We hoped to reached fresh snow and flocked trees. We had been mostly in the trees but we now had a few stretches in the sunshine. And the sun felt really good.

The last stretch up to the ridge top us steeper and it was very hard. I was getting a little nervous about the descent. A good skier would love fast descent. More than four miles of icy downhill is at the limit of my skill level. Not having skied in a year did not help my confidence. We took a break where we reached the ridge top. Last year was the first time I had skied up with the route groomed all the way. Now there was a four way junction. Groomed track crossed the main road on both sides. At some point we will explore them. For now we were just planning to continue up the ridge top road as usual. We now had a little breeze but it was still pretty calm. The route continued to climb. At one point the old ungroomed road crossed around a point where the snow was often sloping and wind blown ice. Below was a big open drop in a clear cut. Now the groomed road was flat and trees have grown up to fill in the clear cut.

We passed the first summit and followed the road higher. The grooming ended at the point we normally head into the forest off track. This day I was finished. We now had five miles of downhill ahead of us. The snow in the trees was way to icy anyway. We stopped for lunch at 10:48 am. We took 2:22 to ski five miles gaining 2000'. From the end of the road we had some great views. To the north were peaks of the Cascade Crest including Mts. Daniel and Hinman. The unusual angle made many peaks look more jagged than I had seen before. With winter white on the peaks they looked great. Below we could see open water of Kachess Lake and frozen over Little Kachess Lake. Across the valley was Kachess Ridge. I think I could make out the lookout atop Thorp Mountain.

We spent 20 minutes sitting in the sun having our lunch. The sun was great but a very cold light breeze felt really cold. At 11:10 am I started down first. Gary is a much better skier and I expected him to catch up fast. I quickly found that I was about half in control. I tried to check my speed and icy ruts bounced me all over. After just a few minutes I crashed and burned. Too many falls really wears you out on a long downhill. I hoped it would get better. I managed to stay upright back to the new junction where we first reached the ridge. Along the way I passed several groups coming up. I was surprised that Gary had not yet caught up. That 1.3 miles took 12 minutes. The barely in control downhill did not take long. Gary caught up and we took a short break. Then it was time for the rest of the descent.

The real fun part is when skaters come up the middle and I try to avoid them. In each case they did see me in time to get out of the way. The steeper part off the ridge was actually better than the ridge top section. I almost felt that I was in control. At one point a speedster zoomed by me on the far left. They were gone in a matter of seconds. It must be fun to go that fast on icy snow. Gary was having a little trouble too. It has to be pretty icy for that to happen. I made it down to the ungroomed road junction staying vertical. My legs were getting tired fast. Just another two miles to go. Several folks were coming up at a corner and I lost control trying to get around them and the corner and had crash #2. Not too bad so far. Down in the last mile thee was a sunny spot where the track was really fast. Add in two more folks coming up and my move right led to a loss of balance and fall #3. It has been years since I have fallen three times on on trip. Considering the conditions that was not all that bad.

I was pleased to reach the bottom. It was just before noon. Gary came down 5 miles in 48 minutes. I took one minute more. It was fast and a bit exciting. A few minutes later we were back at the start. We walked back to the car and headed for home. I had been suggesting to Gary that since we had our boots we should hike up Cedar Butte on the way home. It was only 12:00 pm after all. We both had tired legs fighting the ice and decided we could make up our minds on the drive back. Well, at North Bend we decided to go for it. We hoped there would be parking in the State Park lot which requires a Discover Pass. Across the road the Rattlesnake Ledges Trail would surely be a zoo with cars parked everywhere. We were not disappointed.

Well before reaching the Rattlesnake Ledge parking lot we saw cars parallel parked on both sides of the road. Between the state park and Rattlesnake lots the road had cars parked on both sides. It was a zoo. In the state park lot the first few small lots were full. We did find a spot farther down. We expected a warmer day in the upper 40s. It was only 40 degrees. It was sunny but cold. We were on our way at 1:04 pm. The first .90 miles gained 90'. The next .90 mils above the old railroad grade gained 810' more. That is short but steep for tired legs. In previous years I have seldom seen more than one other group on this trail. It has been discovered. We saw and passed quite a few groups. Rather than the longer Boxley Blowout trail we stayed on the main route. Shorter but steeper.

We reached the summit at 1:51 pm. 1.8 miles up with 900' of gain in 47 minutes. Jackets went on. It was cold. They did not come off to hike down. It was cold. Across the valley the summits of Si and Mailbox were in the clouds. Teneriffe had just the summit go in and out of the clouds. Mostly sunny but not on the peaks. We had one more lunch and headed down. We saw more groups going up and down. More groups on the railroad grade. Not much solitude but compared to Rattlesnake Ledges it was enormously less crowded. On the drive out we counted the cars parked along the road. There were about 140 cars That does not include the large lots off the road. Way too many hundreds of hikers for us this day. Cedar Butte was much nicer.

For the day we skied 10.2 miles with about 2100' of elevation gain. We then hiked 3.8 miles with 900' of gain. Added up that was 14 miles and 3000' of gain. Not too bad for a couple of old guys. The weather turned out to be pretty good. The ski conditions were challenging for me but not too awfully bad. I'm glad I at least managed one ski trip this year. The snow forecast is not good for the next few weeks.Hopefully March or April will be better. All in all, a rare day with two different types of trips instead of just one. I will be a bit sore tomorrow but had a great time today.

Bright Sun Lit Cloud
Lot Is Not Yet Crowded
Putting On Skis
Heading Up Amabilis
View From Junction
Gary At Junction
Continuing Up
Sunshine At Ridge Top
Back On The Move
Into The Sun
Shade & Sun
Peaks To The North
Hinman & Daniel
Cascade Crest Peaks
Jagged Peaks
Higher On The Ridge
Turn Around Spot
Peak On Kachess Ridge
Lake & Ridge
Thorp Mountain
Looking Northeast
Time To Head Down
Back At The Start
Lot Is Much Fuller
Folks On Iron Horse Trail
Mossy Arbor
Gary On Trail
Cloudy View
Ceder Butt
Mossy Goodness
Trail Sign
Rattlesnake Ledges
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2018