Kendall Katwalk & Ridge Lake

Saturday brought a temperature inversion. Cold fog near the surface and warmer temperatures above. I had to go for a higher trailhead to be above it all day. With that in mind, I headed east to Snoqualmie Pass. Low dark fog on the drive but it lifted as the road climbed towards the pass. Bright sunshine ensued for the rest of the day. There were already about 20 cars in the lot when I arrived at 8:30 am. It was chilly at the start. Last year I went up via the Commonwealth Creek route. It is shorter with a bit less elevation gain. This time I wanted the miles and gain. The trail is like the most all of the Pacific Crest Trail. This section north from Snoqualmie Pass climbs at a very steady grade. Never too steep but consistently going uphill. The first few miles make long switchbacks. The Commonwealth Creek route is much more direct.

With the steady but fairly gentle grade this trail hikes very fast. I set a steady pace and kept it up all the way to the Katwalk. Before long I started catching up with folks from all those other cars.  I passed a couple then a larger group then another couple and another group of half a dozen. I single and two other runners zoomed on by me. Between the groups I had quite a bit of temporal solitude. I only saw one group already heading down. At the talus field where the trail descends I had great views of Guye Peak and a very red Red Mountain. I just had one stop as it warmed up enough to remove one layer. Before long I rolled up my sleeves. It was starting to feel like spring.

When the trail breaks out of the forest into the rocky open slopes below the summit of Kendall Peak the sunshine really warmed me up. There was little haze and so great views. Mt. Rainier was in sight to the south. Far below I could see I-90. I had seen a trip report from a few days earlier with some great fall leaf color. I figured the open section of Kendall Gardens would be great. It was okay. Some good color when backlit but lots of leaves have fallen off. The route rounds the corner and the colors improved. Up the switchback and I passed the boot path leading up Kendall Peak. I debated taking it but decided I'd go for Ridge Lake instead.

I arrived at the Katwalk at 10:42 am. I took 2:11 to hike up 5 1/4 miles. Great views over to Alta Mountain. A few weeks ago I sat on Alta and looked at the Katwalk. To the left of Alta is Three Queens and farther left is Mt. Stuart. At the north end of the valley is Chikamin Peak. Time for a water break and to zip off my pants legs. Shorts and short sleeves in late October. It was warm but not hot. Probably in the mid 60s and still warming. I headed on. After the Katwalk are some very colorful leaves. This is where the best color appeared. I reached Ridge Lake at 11:17 am. A few folks came and left but for the most part I had Ridge Lake to myself. Try having that happen in mid summer. One of the benefits of October hiking. I reached my turnaround point, almost 6.5 miles in and it was still before 11:30 am.

I had an evening engagement or I would have stayed even longer. As it was, I did not pack up to go until 12:06 pm. About 50 minutes at the lake. I have recently spent long periods at lakes or on summits. I like it. My trip back to the Katwalk was slow. Many photos as the sun was not backlighting the leaves. Much better colors than on the way in. I also just climbed up on a rock slab above the trail to sit and enjoy the view. I finally reached the Katwalk again at 12:45 pm. There were quite a few more hikers at the Katwalk now. After one last break I headed down at 12:51 pm. The trip down went fast. I stopped for photos on the open sections. When the trail went back into forest I took far fewer photos. There were a number of groups still coming up though it was never a crowd. In the last few miles I caught and passes quite a few people.

I reached the trailhead at 2:58 pm. I had plenty of time to get back to Seattle early. I felt I was going much faster downhill but I only saved four minutes over my ascent time. Perhaps I had more photo stops than I thought. This turned out to be an almost perfect hiking day. It was cool on the ascent then warm up high. No bugs and very little cold wind. A great October day but these conditions would be terrific any time of year. The PCT to the Katwalk always has a crowd but this day it was a small crowd. Seattle sat under a dark gray fog much of the day and it never did warm up much. At 5700' it was like a warm spring day. Snow will be falling soon but it was great to have another warm sunny day in the mountains.

Runner On Trail
007Guye Peak
Catching Up
Red Mountain
Muted Colors
Mt. Rainier
Talus Field
Back In Shade
Snoqualmie Pass
Narrow Blasted Trail
View North
Red & Alta Mt.
Nearing Katwalk
Hiker On Katwalk
Narrow Katwalk
Color Ahead
Cascade Crest Peaks
Mt. Thomson
Gravel Lake Reflection
Ridge Lake
Lemah & Chikamin Pks
Three Queens
Much Better Colors
One More Chikamin
View Of Katwalk
Better Colors
Terrific Colors!
Add Some Yellow
Katwalk Ahead
Steep Drop Off
Framed Red Mountain
Mt. Stuart
View West
Returning Color
Really Nice
Colorful Border
More Red
Last Color Shot
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2018