Mt. Margaret

Suzanne was looking for a good first snowshoe trip for Joe. We settled on Mt. Margaret. Last "winter" we did it but were able to drive to the trailhead with no snow in sight. There was snow higher up but not that much. This winter is a little different. Lack of snow was not a problem. We met John and Julie and were at the end of the frontage road beyond Gold Creek by 8:40. There were only half a dozen vehicles. The forecast was for mostly cloudy skies but it was nothing but blue. It was cold and clear. The road was freshly groomed for snowmobiles and frozen solid.

The first section is loud as the highway is close by in sight and sound. When the route begins to climb the aesthetics improve. We crossed Wolfe Creek once, switchbacked and crossed it again. After the third crossing we debated heading straight up or just following the road. The road was easy walking and it won out. We passed the turnoff to the Lake Lillian shortcut at 2.3 miles. The summer trailhead is at about 3.4 miles. Unlike last year there was about 7+ feet of snow in the parting lot.

Thus far we had been lucky as only a few snowmobiles were out in the early morning. A few more switchbacks and we turned left off the main road onto a smaller one. Another switchback or two brought us to the start of the summer trail. It was not that obvious but there was a lone snowshoe track heading off to the left. At this point we put on snowshoes. The snow was very firm. The crust was such that even out of the track we hardly sank in at all. This area is an old clearcut. A few trees grow here and smaller ones are under the snow. Travel is very easy with few trees to block the way or create tree wells.

We again picked up snowmobile tracks. The clouds never came. It was crystal clear and we were now above blocking trees with spectacular views. Mt. Rainier appeared over the ridge. Granite Mountain and McClellan's Butte were in view. Silver Peak and Mt. Catherine were across the valley. Snoqualmie Mountain and Guye Peak were not far away. We climbed up gentle and slightly steeper slopes while moving farther to our left. We hoped to reach the ridge top in the vicinity of the summit. The steepest part was right where we entered the forest but it was not bad at all.

It looked like the ridge was not far above where the trees began but of course that was not correct. In the trees there was a little actual snow but it too was firmly consolidated. Snowmobile tracks were all around in the forest. We reached a small level meadow at about 4800' and stopped for a food break. This little break in the trees left us out in the bright sunshine. After our break it was time to head straight up to the ridge top. When we reached the top views to the east opened up. Mt. Stuart quickly caught my eye. The false summit was also in view. We were not very far away from it.

We reached the ridge well left of the summer trail. The ridge quickly began to climb. There were the ever present snowmobile tracks as well as an older ski track. With a hard icy packed snowmobile track to follow it was no problem climbing up the ridge. The final climb to the false summit was a bit steeper but traction was good and we had no problem. I reached the top first and took time to enjoy the view. From just about 5500' it provided a great vantage point. Keechelus Lake was below with the north end open and the south end snow covered.

The rest of the group arrived shortly. Many photos were taken. We quickly decided not to head over to the real summit. The view is not much better and there was a steep icy drop to negotiate along the way. This was Joe's first snowshoe trip and 3100' gained on snow is a heck of a workout. We reached the summit at 12:10. It took about 3:15 to travel five miles coming up. Now came the fun part. Downhill was much faster. Footing was good and firm as we charged down the mountain. In no time we were back to the edge of the forest and then back into the bright afternoon sun.

On the way up the clearcut we looked for the gentlest slope. Coming down we did just the opposite. We had one excellent glissade with a nice runout. Farther down we saw a couple snowmobiles. They were the first ones since early in the day. Before we knew it we were back on the road. The views quickly went away and we were left with a long road walk. The snow had softened up a little but was still very firm. We made it back to the cars just after 2:00 pm. It took only 1:45 to come down.

I was expecting an overcast day with limited views. We ended up with a spring like day with huge views. It was cold in the morning but felt like April not February coming down. Although this route is usually a snowmobile racecourse we were fortunate to not see that many. The upper mountain was lots of fun and the views were far better than expected. Add good company and it was a terrific day in the mountains.

Road Walk
Snowshoe Time
Ski Areas
Open Slope
Suzanne & Sadie
Lake Keechelus
John & Julie
Forest Above
Lake Margaret
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Photo Page 2

Trips - 2006