Thomas Mountain

Gwen and Janet were planning on a snowshoe trip to Thomas Mountain. I signed on. I've done Thomas once in summer and once in winter. On the winter trip in 2003 we had lots of fresh snow up high and 15 degrees and a strong wind on the summit. This day looked to be cold with sun and blue sky. We did have some fresh snow a few days earlier. The first snow in many weeks. By January the road to the trailhead is often snow covered. We cruised over Snoqualmie Pass and exited at Easton. The Kachess Dam Road was bare and it remained that way all the way to the trailhead. As expected there were no other cars there at 8:30 am. By 8:45 we were on our way.

We dropped down and crossed Silver Creek then began the switchbacks up the slope. It was well below freezing and the uphill served to warm us up. We hit the short road section then headed back onto the trail. The next section has half a dozen or more trees down across the trail. I was able to get over two of them. The rest I had to limbo or crawl under. Being tall was not an advantage. The ground was frozen such that each step I took I sank into crunchy dirt. White ice was left in my footsteps. That was pretty unusual. The switchbacks are moderately steep but easy compared to what lay ahead. Another group of three caught up with us at the Domerie Divide/Easton Ridge junction. They were also heading to Thomas Mountain.

The trail is flat on the ridge top for a short distance. We all stopped at the viewpoint just before the route begins to climb again. It turned out that one of the other hikers was Galigabs who also posts on NWHikers. It's a small world. The trail began to climb steeply and continued to climb steeply. We gained 1100' in the first 1.3 miles. There was another 1300' in 1.7 miles to the top of the ridge. To this point we had seen a little snow on the trail but less than an inch. Above the flat area in the open there was fresh snow. In the trees it was mostly bare. As we climbed the snow became more consistent. Gwen and Janet put on microspikes.

Traction was okay with poles but the thin snow became slick on steeper sections. As we climbed views began to improve. Back on the flat I was surprised to see that Lake Easton did not have any water in it. From a higher elevation the mud in the empty lake bed was very unusual. I don't recall ever seeing that. Views south to Mt. Rainier and west to the crest showed there were no clouds to be found. With no wind it was getting toasty in the sunshine. It was still chilly in the shade but with all the climbing I was warm enough. We reached a point where the other group had stopped to but on snowshoes. That was at about 4600', some 350' below the ridge top. They were sinking up to about 6-8 into the fresh snow.

I had much better traction with snowshoes on. On the last steep slope below the ridge top we stopped to enjoy the views. It was more like spring than winter. Not that much snow and blue sky. The trees were nicely flocked and covered in ice. Very photogenic. Up at the ridge top we followed the track as it turned left heading for Thomas Mountain. The trail drops quickly losing 275'. The ridge to Thomas is wide and heavily forested Few views out but ice and snow plastered trees all the way. Very enjoyable. I had forgotten how far it is to Thomas. Turned out to be over a mile. There were a few spots with views to the east. Mt. Stuart looked good with a fresh coat of snow.

At long last the route began the climb to the top of Thomas. I reached the 5206' summit at about 1:25 pm. The summit is largely forested. No views to the west. Wide open to the east. Cle Elum Lake was laid out below us. I was on the summit for a little over half an hour. With a puffy layer it was not too cold. Nothing like the 15 degrees and high winds on my other winter visit. Heading down was easy in the nicely packed trench. The 275' climb was not much fun but was not too long either. Heading down from the ridge top we had great views laid out in front of us. Really nice. We made much better time coming down. I used microspikes coming down once the snowshoes came off. They were very helpful. It was almost dark when we reached the creek at 4:40 pm. A few minutes later we were back at the car.

This was an outstanding snowshoe trip. Dirt down low then several feet or more snow up higher. Snow plastered everything on the ridge. No clouds meant great views. We only saw the one other group all day. The numbers show 8 miles RT with 3400' of gain. Almost exactly the same as Mt. Si. This trip is much more interesting than Si. It also had about 400 less people on it. Soon the road with be covered in snow (I hope). Until then Thomas Mountain and nearby Mt. Baldy are excellent destinations.

Parking Lot
Falls On Silver Creek
Morning Light
Lake Kachess
Empty Lake Easton
Dusting Of Snow
Cascade Peaks
Fresh Snow Level
Low Lake Level
Rainier Over Ridge
More Snow
Janet Leads
Gwen & Snowy Trees
A Flat Spot
White Bark Pine?
Big Trees & Blue Sky
Views South
Find Gwen
Gwen On Route
Ridge Route
Flocked Trees
Sun On Snow
Mt. Baldy
Climbing Higher
Sunny January Day
Snowshoe Track
Gwen At Work
Ice Spears
Mt. Stuart
Descending To Thomas
Long Shadow
Nearing Thomas
Thomas Summit
Lake Cle Elum
Heading Down
Big Trees
Looking Up
Mt. Rainier
Lot's Of Tracks
Open Slope
Late Sun On Peak
Shade In Valley
Sun On Peak
 Near Darkness At Falls
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2014