Joined: 15 Mar 2010
Posts: 712 | TRs
Location: Duvall, WA
|I originally had higher and bigger plans, but avalanche danger and waist deep soft snow made me change my plans. I always wanted to explore Napeequa River at least a little in winter, ever since looking at it in summer many years ago from the Little Giant pass. Napeequa is the most beautiful river in Washington state. It is simply gorgeous, surrounded on all sides by high and imposing rocky mountains, while the river valley itself is narrow and incredibly flat, so standing near the river at almost any location you get an experience of being walled in. The river valley was never logged and it has no roads or trails leading all the way, making it wild and perfect for solitude.
It was snowing heavily Friday night and Saturday morning and soft, but sticky, waist deep snow made for slow going right from the start of the Twin Lakes trail. I have seen Twin Lakes many times from above, but never had a chance to go down to them, because normally I would think the trail to them is too short and easy to justify the long drive. It was suprisingly not easy now.
Breaking trail was hard, but this is what real snowshoeing is all about and it would not be as interesting, if it was easy. There were no human tracks to follow, but lots of wildlife tracks and a small douglas squirrel right by the trailhead sign. Sometime later that day me and Cookie also met a Canada jay.
Shortly we noticed a small knoll that looked like it would be a good viewpoint. I *suspect* it is known as "Eagle's crest".
And indeed it had some really nice views unto Napeequa meadow.
From there we dropped back down to Napeequa river and followed it for a while. I just couldn't stop admiring the river curves and white-frosted trees all around it.
We passed by a swamp and even a grove of really ginormous ancient cedars.
From there we crossed Twin lakes creek (well, I fell into it, but Cookie jumped over) and started following it up to the first (smaller) of two Twin lakes. There is one spot where it gets terrifying, narrow terrain trap with open rocky cliffs on both sides. I tried to go up first into kind of ledge above the creek, but once I got there it was immediately clear that this is a bad idea. In fact, my step immediately released a small slide avalanche down. Getting swept down into the creek didn't appear to be a fun way to spend my day and we carefully down climbed again to find our way following some squirrel footprints through the brambles along the water, but avoiding touching the loaded snow slope above us.
After that was over, it was finally lakes time! And yeah, they are not really frozen and I did fall into the lake three times too. But thankfully not deep either.
It took way longer than expected, more than 9 hours just to the both lakes and back! By the afternoon the snow turned to rain.
Next morning I followed the north side of the Napeequa river instead, just a short while until I stumbled upon what I *suspect* are Napeequa falls. Yet again, despite the rain, it was an amazing day and place to snowshoe. American dippers were loud singing their songs of the river.
While Nappequa river is mostly flat and meandering, occasionally it comes to a place where mountains come really close to each other and the river turns into rocky cascades. It felt so nice to just be there. In two days I have not seen a single human, but seen lots of animal tracks. Sometimes the hike doesn't have to have any grand tall destination to be rewarding.