Ridge Lake - PCT

     The Pacific Crest Trail, north from Snoqualmie Pass, is one of the nicest trails in the state. It is smooth and gently graded. The Kendall Katwalk is worth the trip by itself. It's a fairly narrow path blasted right out of the ridge top. I prefer to keep going on to Ridge and Gravel Lakes. A little extra distance gets me beyond most of the crowds. This day was forecast to be cold and clear and it was both of those things. I slept in a little longer than usual to let it warm up. It was about 30 degrees when I hit the trail at 9:20. The trail is in great shape. nearly all the creeks are dry. In fact, I have never seen it so dry down low. After crossing the big avalanche blow out of about 10 years ago I found my first snow of the season. The frozen ground with a dusting of snow on it was quite picturesque. After reaching the ridge top the trail breaks out into the open and crosses the talus field below Kendall Peak. There was little snow here. After crossing the talus the trail turns more northerly and at the first switchback I met more snow. It was only a few inches but it was packed down, frozen, and very slick. Fortunately, it wasn't as packed and slick as Mt. Si in the winter and was not too bad. When the trail turned to cross the northern side of Kendall there was more snow and the footing was better. Here it was crunchy snow and not icy. When I first reached the ridge the view east to Alta Mt. was terrific. The trail drops down below the ridge and comes back up to it at the Katwalk. There was about 3 inches just before the Katwalk. After crossing over to the east side of the ridge the Katwalk itself was nearly snow free. A little sunshine made a big difference.

     After a break at the Katwalk I continued on. All the peaks had a dusting of fresh snow. That made the view much better than it was only a week ago. beyond the Katwalk the trail had a thin snow cover. The boot prints attested to the popularity of this hike, even in early November. The snow made it easy to pick out the Crest Trail way across the valley under Chikamin Peak. The trail dropped down to the pass between Gravel and Ridge Lakes. Gravel appeared to still be open but Ridge had a thin coat of ice on it. There was a few inches of snow all around the lake. I sat down on boulders next to the trail and had lunch in the sunshine. I was in no hurry to leave but the days are getting very short. A little after 1:00 I headed on back. The afternoon crowds were in evidence all the way back. I met 4 parties by the time I reached the Katwalk. Below that a steady stream of hikers passed me coming up the trail. If they all make it to the Katwalk then many of them came down in the dark. I am always amazed how many people I meet with only tiny fanny packs who are still heading up so late in the day. I was back to the car by about 4:00. It was nice to get a taste of fall/winter hiking on such a bright sunny day. This was probably one of the last sunny days to get up over 6000' without snowshoes. What a great day to be in the mountains.

Guye Peak
Icy Trail
Fresh Snow
Alta Mountain
Near The Katwalk
Start Of Katwalk
Bare Katwalk
Looking Down!!

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