West Cady Ridge

Gwen and I debated a destination late into Friday. We finally chose West Cady Ridge. It should not be possible to drive over Jack Pass and down the north side in February. This year it is. We met in Bothell at 7:00 am and headed east. Unlike our trip up Highway 2 the previous weekend we did not expect the crowds seen on Beckler Peak. We were correct. We turned off on the Beckler River Road and had no snow up to Jack Pass. None on the north side of the ridge either. We turned right at the junction and then went past the Blanca Lake trailhead. the road continued to be totally snow free until we reached Quartz Creek. Just a few hundred feet before the parking lot we crossed the bridge and went from spring to winter. Snow began right at the end of the bridge. The lot (2500') was almost entirely covered with hard snow/ice. Probably 4-8 inches of hard pack. No problem with the Gwen's Subaru. We arrived at 8:45 am.

It was about 30 degrees but with no sunshine reaching us and the ice it felt much colder  We were packed up and on our way right about 9:00 am. There were no other cars in the lot. The crunchy icy snow lasted until we crossed the bridge a short way in. The route began to climb and the ice disappeared immediately. The trail is very gentle. No steep parts as it traverses the side of the ridge. There are some big trees and lots of moss along the way. Several logs have  recently bee cut out. We had only two logs to step over. Both were easy. At times we seemed to be seeing earlier sections of the trail. It seems likely that this gently switchbacking trail was once a little steeper.

At about 3600' we had a dusting of new snow on the trail. Open spots had some snow. Little if any where the forest was thicker. By 4000' the snow was covering the trail. The recent snow provided good traction. We never walked on solid ice. As the trail emerged from the forest the scene was quite beautiful. Flocked trees and soft untouched snow all around. The snow was never more than about 4-5 inches deep. No post holing to worry about. We had a report from a week earlier. We followed one set of footprints as they soon became small indentations in the fresh snow. Once on the ridge a trail is not all that necessary. We took the path of least resistance between the trees.

Views north to Kyes Peak began as we left the forest. They just kept getting better as we climbed higher. Sloan Peak was soon in sight. To the west were peaks of the Wild Sky Wilderness that were harder for me to identify. This is not an angle I often have. The ridge began to flatten as we crossed 4500'. It looked like a winter wonderland though the snow as probably not more than two or three feet deep. The meadows of the ridge top provide berries and then fall color. Today it was more like acres of white.

We found a good spot for lunch (4800') with great views to the north. Columbia, Kyes, and Monte Cristo Peaks to the left. Sloan, Pugh, and Glacier Peak in the center. To the right we could easily make out Indian Head Peak and what seemed to be Skykomish Peak. Bald Eagle Peak was across the ridge right in front of us. The recent snow had covered whatever tracks there might have been. We just had untracked snow in all directions.

We sat down for lunch at 11:30 am. The wind was light and the sun was warm. Even with the temperature probably in the high 30s it was pleasant. Our lunch break lasted about an hour. I could have spent all afternoon. We chose to do a little exploring on the wide flat ridge top. First we headed south to get views in that direction. Gwen stopped to make a snow angel. Be sure to not drop onto your back when a few inches of snow covers rock hard snow. It looked a little painful. We continued to the south side where more peaks came into view. Mt. Rainier was visible along with peaks north of Snoqualmie Pass. We went a little farther east along the ridge and then headed back.

One short stop at the lunch spot and we began the descent. We left at about 1:30 pm. Two hours later we were back at the car. The sun does not get very high this time of year so our hike down the north side of the ridge was almost entirely in shade. That made us appreciate the sunshine on top all that much more. Back at the icebox that is the parking lot we found a motorcycle. We parked an a small patch of dirt and the cycle was right next to us. That hiker probably went up Quartz Creek. We did not see a single person all day. When we drove over the bridge and out of winter we saw one more car parked right there. Another arrived as we went by. Not bad solitude on a really fantastic view hike. It won't be that way this summer.

A great time was had by both of us. The hike was mostly on dirt but with a fresh layer of snow up high. Cool but not windy weather and views that rival any from a 4800' viewpoint. We took a long time figuring out where to go but came up with an excellent choice.

Snowy Parking Lot
Wild Sky Wilderness
Green Forest
Macro Moss
A Little Snow
Kyes Peak
Snow Covers Trail
Great Contrast
Gwen On Trail
Snow Worm
Sloan Peak In Sight
Into The Meadows
Flocked Tree
Snowy Peak
Untracked Snow
Indian Head Peak
Framed Glacier Peak
Sloan Peak
Epic Fall
Making Snow Angel
Snow Angel
Running Shadow
View South
Glacier Beyond Meadow
One More Peak
Mt. Rainier
Looking Up Ridge
Glacier Peak
Monte Cristo Peaks
Sloan Peak Close Up
Heading Down
Hazy Peaks
Mountain Nymph v2.0
NF Skykomish River

Snow Angel Gwen
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2015