Deer Creek Road

Gwen was free for a hike. With the low snow level that meant either a snow hike with microspikes on packed icy trail or a snowshoe trip. My knee has been sore so last weekend I went up to Kelcema Lake via Deer Creek Road. The snow was well packed down and I made it most of the way there without snowshoes. The gentle grade proved to not hurt my knee. Gwen has not been snowshoeing this season and I thought redoing the trip would work for both of us. The previous trip was with gray skies. This one looked to have some sunshine. That would make the trip much different. We left north Seattle at 7:00 am and headed north. The previous trip had thin packed snow on the Mountain Loop Highway from Verlot to the end. This time there was icy packed snow on the road from after Granite Falls to the end. We arrived at about 8:25 am. By 8:40 am we were packed up and on our way. Last time I arrived at the same time to find three cars. This time I was the first.

It was a balmy 20 degrees at the start. Instead of the expected 40% overcast we had 0%, The sky was completely blue. It became clear very fast that there was a good dump of new snow the past week. Six or so inches of new snow at the bottom and more as we ascended. The hard pack below allowed us to just use boots. I wanted to minimize the snowshoeing to help my knee. The new snow and blue sky made this a totally different type of trip from the week before. Though traction was good we were still sinking in more than boot deep with every step. We were walking in snowshoe tracks but there was enough soft snow to slow us down. Easy walking but much slower than just a week earlier.

I stopped for a lot of photos. At the turn off for the Double Eagle Road the tracks I had seen last week were completely buried. Soon after there is a good view across the valley to Marble Peak and straight up to nearby Long Mountain. Last week I saw snowy white peaks against a white sky. Now there was bright blue behind them. Very nice. We slogged on farther and then the recent snowshoe tracks ended. Whoever made them had turned around. Now I had to set a track in nearly foot deep snow. The old track was below and solid. The snow was deep enough to be higher than Gwen's gaiters. The slow pace was frustrating. The gentle grade kept it from being to difficult.

We reached the big road washout at just over two miles. No visible tracks through it but we had no trouble. On the other side I stopped to put on snowshoes. It was just getting too deep. We could hear voices coming and two women passed us. Not long after the big washout there is another smaller one. I checked a 2016 WTA trip report that first mentioned the washout and with less snow they showed that there are five washouts. The road will probably never be repaired. The new snow on the trees along the road were looked really good. The second and last group to pass us going up soon went by. This group of three was moving at a pretty good pace. Now with a total of five folks ahead of us we had a pretty well packed down trench to follow. Not too far below the big switchback we met the two women. They found a spot with a small break in the trees providing a view out and for sun to shine through. They were having lunch and due to a lack of time would soon be heading back.

When Gwen and I reached the big switchback we stopped for lunch. All the new snow and the trail breaking had just taken too much time. We chose to make this our turnaround point. We had a bit of sun but some clouds had moved in and we went from shade to sun and back. Very warm in the sunshine but a bit cool in the shade. I arrived at 12:00 pm and Gwen a few minutes later. We stayed until 12:45 pm. There was no wind and it seemed very warm in the sunshine. Well, with a jacket on it did. Pats of the way down would be in shade. I was happy to enjoy the sunshine. We have not had much of it this February.

The trip down was much easier. Most of the way after the washout now had a total of nine sets of snowshoes pounding the snow flat. It made for a fairly deep trench. I hope folks who went up on Sunday appreciated the work that went towards building it. I stopped or many more photos as the still mostly blue sky provided such great contrast to the bright white snow. We saw a few groups and single snowshoers coming up but it was far from a crowd. We reached the car at 2:27 pm. Last week I met folks at the end of the trip with a flat tire and an anti theft lug nut they could not remove. Today it was a big 4x4 truck stuck in the snow in the small lot just up from the highway. They were not having any luck pulling it out with another big truck. I parked along the highway and had no trouble.

Last week on the drive out I passed about 25 cars parked just east and across from the Lake 22 parking lot. All of them had both tires across the fog line and in my lane. This week the snowplows had pushed the new snow to the edge of the road leaving little room. I figured nobody would dare park in the road. I was wrong. There were about 20 cars parked several feet into my lane. I had to cross into the left lane to get past. That is crazy. I wish they all had been ticketed. Ironically, things were so bad near the Lake 22 lot that the county put up no parking signs for a long distance where there was marginal room to park along the highway. They did not put them where there is no room at all. Time for more signs.

All in all, we had a great day. We did not get to Kelcema Lake as I had the week before. We did have bright blue sky for most of the day. It was warmer and a lot less gray. Not a bad trade off for missing the lake. I was really surprised how much snow fell in the past week. This has really been the winter of low elevation snow. Snow in the mountains has been near normal but down low it has been much deeper than usual. It has provided great conditions for usually marginal places like Lake 22. That said, I wouldn't mind hiking on dirt at low elevation again soon.

Gwen's Pointed Comment
Previous Trench
Snowy Peak
Out In The Sunshine
No More Trench
Untracked Snow
Flocked Trees
View From Road
Big Washout
Gwen Crosses Washout
Just Past Washout
Catching Up With Us
Passed Us By
Snowy Arch
Bare Cement
Deciduous Trees
Small Cloud
View Through Gap
Crossing Deer Creek
Back In Cool Shade
Devil's Peak
Heading Down
Rocky Ridge
Gwen Leads
Snow Blob
Back Across Washout
Washout Again
Another Peak
Long Mountain
Almost Back
Back At The Start
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2019