Mt. Margaret

Both Suzanne and I had hiked the day before. We were looking for a close in hike that would not be icy after the sub freezing temperature over night and the lingering snow in the mountains. Just as we reached the freeway we changed our minds again and decided on Mt. Margaret near Snoqualmie Pass. I first hiked this trail over to Twin Lakes some 20+ years ago. I did not go back until just a few years back. I have now done this trail up to the summit of Margaret four times in the last three years. All were entirely or at least partly on snow. This was by far the least snow I have seen while hiking the mountain.

We had a moderately early start and reached the parking lot by around 8:30. There was one truck with a frozen windshield in the lot. It was sunny but cold as we headed up the road. Two of my previous trips started all the way down at I-90 elevation. Reaching the parking lot with no snow makes this a fairly short trip. A few switchbacks in the road and we reached the actual start of trail. I'm used to just plowing straight up on snow. The actual dirt trail is very gentle as it gains elevation.

The higher we went the warmer it became. I checked weather stations in the morning and found it to be 15 degrees warmer at the tops of the Stevens Pass and Alpental ski areas than at the bottoms. This cloudless inversion proved to be true for us as well. We found a few small snow patches on the trail then a few more as we entered the forest. It was still mostly bare ground as we switchbacked up towards the ridge top.

At the ridge top intersection there was some snow but still some bare ground as well. The back side of the ridge had more snow and ice. We chose not to descend to Margaret Lake and instead turned left towards Mt. Margaret. Within a few hundred feet we left the trail and headed up, staying near the ridge top. The going was easy as we seemed to find and lose a climbers path several times.

We made good time and soon were approaching the false summit. This can be a little bit of a chore to ascend in the snow. It is fairly steep and one must traverse left under the summit to avoid a small cliff. Seeing it without snow for the first time it was an easy walk up. The climbers path continues over the false summit and then descends about 100' down a moderately steep slope. With snowshoes it has always been fairly easy to descend. With patches of thin wet snow it was a little harder. I managed to slip and slide on the snow and needles. I almost ran into Suzanne but was able to stop in time.

Once at the saddle we just had another 250' of climbing to go. The thin snow made for reasonable foot hold on the way up but I was a bit concerned about getting down without more unexpected butt slides. In just a few minutes we were on the summit. It only took us a little over 1:30 to hike on up. The early morning sun nicely highlighted the many peaks around us. Mt. Rainier had the beginnings of a lenticular cloud on top. It had been so clear at Mildred Point the day before.

To the northwest we could see clearly from Snoqualmie Mountain to Lundin, Red, Kendall, Thomson, Chikamin, Alta, Lemah, and points farther north. Of course we could see Mt. Stuart. Thorp Mountain lookout was another possible trip this day and I could just make it out. Silver Peak is close to the elevation of Margaret but had much more snow on it's north side.

Is was much warmer than the trailhead had been. We were not in a big hurry and spent about an hour on the summit. Even with the long summit stay it was well before noon when we headed down. The first section proved not to be a problem. We had good footing in the thin wet snow. One last short climb brought us back to the false summit. In now time we dropped back down to the summer trail.

More switchbacks through the forest and we were back out in the open. I must say that this long standing clear cut is finally growing back. Trees are again enclosing the trail. Near the clear cut we met the first group hiking up. We met more as we continued to descend. Not a summer sized crowd but more than a few people out to enjoy a sunny fall day in the mountains.

This was a fast trip to a 5580' viewpoint not far from the Cascade crest. We saw many mountains as well as Laura, Lillian, Twin, Margaret, Yvonne, Stones Throw, and Rock Rabbit Lakes. Most of the lakes were not yet frozen. For the day we hiked about 6 miles with 2300' of gain. This and Silver Peak may be the shortest hikes to such great views in the Snoqualmie Pass area. Next time I'm up seeing views like this I'll probably be on snowshoes.


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Trips - 2007