Ridge Lake (Katwalk)

Different seasons provide different hiking opportunities. Spring snow scrambles and desert flower shows. Summer high meadows. Fall colors and larch trees. One under appreciated opportunities comes just after larch season. The first snow provides easy bare dirt trails leading to high views of peaks dusted in the first white cover. Sometimes it ends in abject failure like a trip to Mt. Dickerman that ended with waist deep unconsolidated snow. Snowshoes were worthless. Often it makes for a memorable day in the mountains. Usually there is only a week or two each year around the start of November. I headed to Snoqualmie Pass and the Pacific Crest Trail for this year's try.

I reached the parking lot at 9:10  to find only about 5 cars. It was cold and damp but not raining. I had heard about the trees that fell last winter and there were plenty down and sawed out. All the ground cover is missing in a few places. this trail is so moderate in grade that it's easy to set a fast pace. It was cold enough to provide another incentive to keep moving. I passed two folks after the first switchback. I only saw two more all the way up. The waterfall was flowing strong. Poles were helpful to get across with dry feet. There are still some colorful leaves along the way. Guye Peak was in and out of the clouds. Red Mountain was lost in cloud cover. At about 4500' I began to see a little snow. The forest kept it to a minimum. Near the ridge top I met one hiker coming down already.

I popped out into the open below Kendall Peak and found a thin snow cover. Not enough to slow me down but it did provide nice contrast on the talus field. Snoqualmie Pass went in and out of the clouds. Red Mountain also peaked out occasionally. It was covered with a thin white coat of snow. High above I began to see some blue sky. Sucker holes became bigger. I hoped for a little sunshine before the day was over. Soon the trail was almost entirely snow covered but it was only a few inches. Exactly what I had hoped for.

At the junction with the climbers path to the summit of Kendall Peak I met several folks who had just come down from the top. It looked a little slippery and they concurred. I chose to continue on. soon the route crossed over to the north side. The snow wass not ice and was still easy to walk on. Good thing as the trail is narrow here the drop off is steep and long. The tarns at the bottom were frozen over. I stopped at the ridge. I hoped to see Alta Mountain and other peaks to the east. I saw clouds. No distant views. Oh well...

The trail drops down then climbs back up to the ridge at the Kendall Katwalk. I popped out of the trees to find sunshine. Almost warm sunshine. It was above freezing but still chilly. The gloves were not coming off this day. No rain so far and no indication of any so all was well. The Katwalk had a thin snow cover and half a dozen sets of footprints. Very nice. I could see a little of Chikamin Peak to the north but nothing to the east. It was just before noon and time for lunch. After that I decided to keep going. No ice on the Katwalk and so it was easy to cross.

Some footprints kept going and so did I. Bright sun on snow and yellow leaves made for nice color. Hard to photograph but still nice. It's about 1 1/4 miles to Ridge and Gravel Lakes. It went by pretty quickly. Chikamin Peak opened up as the clouds drifted away. There was enough snow to cover everything but not enough to slow down hiking very much. The fresh snow really spruced up the views. I stopped at Ridge Lake. The footprints stopped there too. Time for part two of my lunch. At 1:00 pm I headed back. A little uphill then easy traversing. Near the Katwalk I met another hiker coming in. Only the 7th person seen all day. Not like the crowds this trail had most all summer.

The Katwalk was partly bare as the sun quickly melted the thin coating. The tracks on the north side of Kendall Peak were now icy and I did stop to put on Yaktrax before starting across. Not too difficult without them but the drop is enormous and I had them so I used them. Once around the corner and beyond the narrow blasted trail they came off. I lingered on the open talus field. Much of the snow had melted there too. I hated to go back into the dark and cold forest.

I sped up and made good time from there to the trailhead. I chose not to take the short cut through Commonwealth Basin. It had rained/snowed all night and the brush was still soaked. The PCT is longer but the tread is so smooth and gentle that it goes by fast. The last few miles I passed several groups heading up. I was surprised to see them heading up so late in the afternoon. I made it back to the start at 4:15 pm and it was cold. No sun reaches this parking lot this time of year. At hone I checked my report on 11-02-02. Nine years earlier I started at the same time, reached the Katwalk at nearly the same time, reached Ridge Lake at nearly the same time, and arrived back at the start 18 minutes earlier. Am I that consistent or is that just a weird coincident?

This hike turned out to be exactly what I had hoped for. No rain, some sun, and just enough snow to really highlight the scenery both near and far. There were very few folks out on the trail too. Soon the snow will be deep and snowshoes will be needed. I really enjoy a fall hike with just enough snow. Hopefully next year will be just as good.

Color Along The Trail
Leaves Still Green
Guye Peak
Fall Meets Winter
Soaking Wet Brush
View To Kendall Peak
Snow On Trail
Blue Sky!
Snowy Talus Field
Snow & Color
Distant Clouds
Color On Red Mt.
Shady North Side
Narrow Trail
Swirling Clouds
Frozen Tarns
Red Mountain
Kendall Ridge
Snow Covered Rocks
Red Mt. In The Clouds
Approaching Katwalk
The Kendall Katwalk
Cloudy Chikamin Peak
Clouds Along Ridge
End Of The Katwalk
Snow & Colorful Leaves
Sunshine & Color
Chikamin Peak
Gravel Lake
Ridge Lake
Blasted Katwalk
Cracked Rock
More Color
Lined With Red
Alta Mountain
Nearing Katwalk
Good Lighting
No Snow On Red Mt.
Great Color
Back To The Yellows
Last Fall Color Shot
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2011