Joined: 18 Aug 2008
Posts: 2838 | TRs
Location: Someone get me out of Everett, WA
|Some of my friends recruited me to join them for the patrol race later this February. The route runs from Snoqualmie Pass/Summit West to the Mountaineers lodge near Stampede Pass. It mostly follows the PCT which I did 10 years ago in the summer. My intent for the weekend was to scout the route from the start to Mirror Lake and then reverse the route back to the car. I didn't even come close to making it to the lake.
I think I began skinning at 7:30 up the groomed ski slope. I could tell it was going to be a beautiful day, athough it was already warm.
The route is mostly flat or very gentlely graded, but the route down to Lodge Lake was tough. The PCT is basically a mix between a creek and a snow trough. I had a tough time gliding downhill with skins at some parts. The firm crusty snow was actually smooth though, which helps for awkward gliding.
For the most part the trail was visible even when covered by snow. I occasionally came across old skin tracks but they were faint. After a while I found a set of animal tracks that followed the trail for many miles. I think the X in the paw means they belong to a canine. At least that is what I told myself.
I had to remove skis, rock hop through creeks, hike, and skin through water more times than I can count on two hands, but I eventually made it to where the PCT was groomed! I followed this for a while and eventually found some XC skiers who gave me a map of the trails which were not on my USGS map.
Olallie Meadows to Windy Pass was my favorite part. It was beautifully clear, sunny but shaded, and the supportable crust skinned smooth and brisk.
From Windy Pass the PCT enters a long traverse under Silver and Tinkham and then down to Mirror Lake. I lost a lot of time trying to get around some creeks and transitions between the clear cut and old growth. I eventually found the PCT markers on the trees so my map/altimeter skills are alright. But by noon I realized I had lost enough time and the long traverse didn't seem to interesting (it was beautiful old growth though) to continue on for the day.
I went back to Olallie Meadows, ate my sandwich, and got back to the top of the ski lifts at 4:00 for a very nice run reminiscent of spring corn. On the way out several snow bridges over the rail had blown out. Also there were a new set of tracks that had followed on top on mine. Are there foxes, coyotes, or wolves here?
And if you like gummies for hiking snacks you might know that TJs has a nice selection of seasonal gummies. The Valentine's day variety is may favorite. I only tried one package of them last year and they were all sold out when I returned the next week to buy more. This year I stocked up.