Cheese Rock

Gary was free for Presidents Day and we planned a trip on the sunny east side of the Cascades. There might be an inch or so of snow overnight. Well not exactly. We talked in the morning about the fact chains were required over Snoqualmie Pass. We decided to stick with the plan. I met Gary at High Point at 6:45 am and we headed east. Snow was on the side of the highway at Preston. A 600' snow level over night? Not quite what we expected. The drive over the pass was slow but with AWD we did not need to stop to put on chains. Snow continued on the road most of our drive. I seldom see Highway 970 snow covered but did this morning. The Teanaway Road had been recently plowed so it was not too bad. We turned onto the WF Teanaway Road and followed it past the Middle Fork Road and on to the end. We were the first car to arrive a little before 8:45 am. We brought skis and snowshoes. With the fresh snow I felt okay using skis. We carried snowshoes but did not use them. We were packed up and ready to go just after 9:00 am.

It was in the low 20s and cold but the sun was shining. So much warmer in the sunshine. Almost no wind was blowing. We talked about skiing up the WF Road towards Exclamation Point Rock in the sunshine. We also considered taking the route up to Cheese and Bible Rocks. Neither of us had been that way. That was the key. Time to try out a new route. The first trick was finding the short road down to the new bridge. It is easy to see in summer with no snow on the ground. We took what looked like a road and it quickly ended at the river with no bridge. Skiing the untracked snow was fun. We would have a lot more of it this day. We spotted the bridge upriver but heading straight for it went though a swampy area. We headed back up to the road. We went past the gate and turned off quickly. This route took us down to the bridge.

A trip report by Lauren two days earlier put this trip on the radar. Her photos showed a hard packed road. Higher up the snow was thin and there was dirt around Cheese Rock. Only two days later we had a nice layer of new snow that buried the hard pack and any tracks. The snow was very good ford my first ski trip in two years. Good traction on the way up and not fast on the way down. We slogged our way up the road along Carlson Creek. There are some steeper spots but the also some very gentle sections. The road crossed the creek and switchbacked to the left. Now the grade steepened a bit as we headed for the ridge top. Along the way we stopped to enjoy views of Teanaway peaks and the Stuart Range. Mt. Stuart itself had the summit partly in the clouds. Earl Peak was in the clear and seemed to be right across the valley from us.

At the ridge top the road began to descend. It was pretty obvious we needed to head left and climb towards Cheese Rock. The snow here was good in spots and pretty thin in others. Near the top it was the thinnest. We climbed then had a few ups and downs. I managed to stay on my feet with a few flailing arms moments. Near the top we skied across a rock slab with just a few inches of snow on top.  There was a medium sized rock at the top. We went around the left side and stopped. The other side of the rock was much larger. It is pockmarked sandstone that looks a little like cheese. Hence the name. Beyond is downward sloping Bible Rock. Mammoth Rock farther up the WF Teanaway is huge and gently sloped. Bible Rock is very big and steeper. The whole rock was covered with a few inches of fresh snow. We arrived at 10:19 am.We took off our skis and ventured out onto the rock.

My ski boots don't have the best traction and it was a bit uncomfortable crossing the upper rock. We did have some good views out and the parking lot was almost directly below. We skied 1.7 miles to end up right above where we started. There is a short cliff to the next level of the rock. We were uncomfortable going down it so went back across the rock and then dropped down to the next level. The face of the rock between levels was covered with icicles. Very pretty in the morning light. We decided that going farther down the rock in these conditions was not in our plans. Instead we headed back to the top. Just over the ridge was a good spot for a break in the sunshine. It was not in the mid 30s and much warmer than in the morning. A snowmobile could be heard in the distance for a minute then it was quiet once again.

At 11:06 am we headed down. The snow was too thin up top to comfortably ski down. We just walked down to the first flatter spot on the ridge. The skis went back on. Gary enjoyed the ski back to the road. I failed some more but somehow managed to not fall. Much to my surprise. Very quickly we were back at the road. A snowmobile had gone by. We now had a track to ski in. It did speed up our descent a little. It was still not fast but a fun downhill ski. The new snow and temperature meant a lot of snow stuck to the bottoms of our skis. We had to stop on the way down to wax them. We made it back to the car at 11:50 am. Our morning trek covered 3.7 miles with 610" of elevation gain. Not quite up to our normal trips. But we were not done.

I thought Gary would want to ski the road along the river. Nope. He wanted to do some true cross country skiing. With the flocked trees and new snow it was very beautiful off the roads. We crossed the road. climbed up the snow bank and went past the bathrooms. Up the slope we went on thinning snow. We had to step over a few small logs. We had no idea what the ridge would be like. That was part of the fun. At the top we found a plateau with trees to the left but a big meadow straight ahead. On we went. The ridge top was very wide in places and narrow in others. There is a trail we followed and left a few times. No tracks at all. There was one car when we returned but we did not see the people. So far we had seen nobody. It was fun to break trail in our total solitude. Gary weaved a route through trees in some spots and into open meadows too. At one spot we had a view of Mt. Stuart. It still had clouds over the top.

At one point we went over a narrow higher point and down a little. It was getting later and we were not moving very fast. We came down to a snowy road and had to make a choice. If the road continued right to another road that drops to the WF Teanaway Road it would be an easy way back. It would also be longer and might not go easily. We could retrace our track that included really narrow spots just behind us. We could also turn left and see if that route continued well before we connected with our route coming in. We chose number three. This was a better route than our way in. I was getting tired after hours of skiing. Tired means less balance for me. Clouds were coming in and when the sun disappeared occasionally it was much colder. We reached another big meadow and stopped in the sun for another food break.

The map showed we would soon reach our track in. Unfortunately, there was a big gully right before the meeting. With the thin snow cover going down and up the other side did not look like any fun. We turned around and followed the gully up to where we found a small snow covered lake. At the outflow we were able to step across the creek above the gully. A few minutes later we found our earlier track. It did not take long to get back. Right before we left the ridge we crossed fresh snowshoe tracks. No people but several tracks. The snow was so thin that we walked down the last slope to the car. Now it was 2:27 pm. We were done three hours before dark. For the day we skied 6.6 miles with 910' of elevation gain. This will be one of the shortest least gaining trips I will do this year. Also one of the most fun.

We finally saw someone when the snowshoers came back. We saw nobody while we were out skiing. Other than the snowmobile track we had untracked snow all day. The drive home was faster. Most of the snow had melted off the highways. Returning traffic from the last day of the holiday weekend was not a problem. Last February I skied around NW Seattle but it had been two years since I had skied in the mountains. Definitely uses some different muscles than hiking. I'm still feeling it three days later. I hope I can get back on skis more often.

Snowy Teanaway Road
Packing Up
New Outhouse
Looking For Bridge
Crossing Bridge
WF Teanaway River
Untracked Snow
Falling Snow
Climbing To Ridge
Teanaway Peaks
Mt. Stuart
Gary Skiing
Heading Off Road
Upper Bible Rock
Cheese Rock
Bible Rock
Red Top Lookout
Fresh Snow On Slab
Gary Ascends
Cheese Rock & Skis
Heading Down
Snowmobile Track
Trip Part 2
Gary Views Meadow
Mt. Stuart Again
Pushing Through
Second Lunch Time
Fire Station
Snow Covered Lake
Following Our Tracks
Ridge Skiing
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2020