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Sadie's Driver
Sadie's Driver



Joined: 24 Apr 2006
Posts: 1716 | TRs
Location: Welcome Pass
Sadie's Driver
Sadie's Driver
PostSat Feb 02, 2008 9:49 pm 
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Who would have thunk?   shakehead.gif  Wanting to avoid the craziness anywhere near a mountain pass, Jim K and I figured that heading north to Oyster Dome - just a couple of miles as the crow or seagull flies from Puget Sound - would mean little, if any snow.   shakehead.gif   As soon as we took Exit 240 off of I-5 and headed west towards the trailhead (turn left on Barrel-something road - less than a mile from the freeway; then you turn right in .6 miles on the Blanchard Hill Road) there was slippery snow on the road.  We opted to go only about a mile or so up the road to the lower parking lot, since there was probably about a 1/2 foot of snow on the road and, basically, we are wussies.  The weather was predicted to be scattered showers basically through the day.  Well, there were some clouds around - but it continued to clear and was a beautiful day.  It was about 34 degrees when we started at the lower trailhead about 9:45 a.m.  There were two other guys who showed up - they had parked further down the road, not wanting to get stuck in the snow higher up.
Lower parking lot trailhead
Lower parking lot trailhead

You walk about 300' feet up the road to the actual start.
Trailhead from lower parking lot
Trailhead from lower parking lot

Someone was more than ready to get started . . .
All play - all the time
All play - all the time

and right from the beginning, there was a lot of snow on the trail.
Plenty of snow on the trail at 800'
Plenty of snow on the trail at 800'

It's about a mile walk from the lower parking lot via the trail to the upper parking lot - that was pretty much snow covered - probably just as well that we hoofed it to here.
Upper parking lot
Upper parking lot
At upper parking lot
At upper parking lot

We turned right at that sign to head toward the Incline trail (planned to make this a loop and would come back the Lily/Lizard Lake route).  The start of our outbound route would be on road
Heading up the gated road
Heading up the gated road

and would continue about a mile - only saw ski tracks - no one else had been along here for a while.  It already was starting to be an absolutely glorious day 
Road on eastside of Blanchard Hill
Road on eastside of Blanchard Hill

although we would spend most of the day in the trees - this would not have been one of Trail Pair/K's favorite routes!   lol.gif  We reached the trailhead to start up the Incline/Alternate Incline trail - it's a pretty obvious left turn off of this logging road.  You don't run into the actual trail juncture between Incline and Alternate Incline until you are about 50 yards up the trail.
Alternate incline trail
Alternate incline trail

The snow is pretty substantial right away.  We had decided not to take our snowshoes - thinking that the snow "couldn't be THAT deep"  hmmm.gif 
Gus on incline trail
Gus on incline trail
Lots of snow on trail
Lots of snow on trail

This gives you an idea of how deep the snow is
Snow depth
Snow depth

It seems that Gusto may have received more service training than I was aware of!  I do believe this guy is a truffle-hunter!
I'll find them!
I'll find them!
They're here somewhere
They're here somewhere
Really into it!
Really into it!
Truffle hunting
Truffle hunting
Coming up for air
Coming up for air
Trufflegustus in deep
Trufflegustus in deep

We continued our trek - heading through heavily flocked trees - that were occasionally - no - frequently dripping or dropping snow-bombs on us.  These guys seemed pretty well stuck to the trees, however.
Funguscycles
Funguscycles

I had never been on this side of Oyster Dome - only hiked it from the Chuckanut side.  Jim had only been this way once - and that wasn't in snow - and, we conveniently left the map in the car.  So we weren't absolutely sure of the route - and we were pretty much breaking trail the whole way.  All was fine, except for the time when Jim was sure we had missed the turn to Lizard Lake - but there hadn't been any trail markers.  Not to let a crummy little trail sign stop us - we headed out on what looked to be a possible trail/old railroad grade - well, that turned into about a 1/2 mile slog through nearly waist deep (at least for me - and I was in the lead) snow.  We abandoned this plan fairly quickly and headed back to the main trail and continued on - even though it didn't seem as steep as Jim remembered it.  Finally, we ran into some trail signs that answered our questions about "Where the heck are we?"
Junction on Pacific Northwest Trail
Junction on Pacific Northwest Trail
Real Lizard Lake route
Real Lizard Lake route

So, we decided to take the Lizard Lake trail - good decision.
Lizard Lake
Lizard Lake
Blue sky on route to Lizard Lake
Blue sky on route to Lizard Lake

We returned to the main trail again and headed to Lily Lake - we had yet to see any sign that said anything about Oyster Dome.  Along the way . .
Absolutely stellar day
Absolutely stellar day

We came upon this sign - but it made everything as clear as mud.
Very confusing sign - doesn't mention where/which direction
Very confusing sign - doesn't mention where/which direction

Undaunted, we continued on towards Lily - passing a sign that identified Max's short cut - but we weren't headed in that direction - we headed to Lily.
Jim and Gusto on the way to Lily Lake
Jim and Gusto on the way to Lily Lake
Jim K heading to the lake
Jim K heading to the lake
Lily Lake and blue sky
Lily Lake and blue sky
Lily Lake sign
Lily Lake sign
Gusto looking for a dip into Lily Lake
Gusto looking for a dip into Lily Lake

Connecting back to the main trail - we finally saw a sign that gave us some hope that we were on the right trail.
First sign identifying route to Oyster Dome
First sign identifying route to Oyster Dome

As we traveled along the creek, we found an interesting spot.
Wide shot of semi-frozen creek with snow "plumpfs"
Wide shot of semi-frozen creek with snow "plumpfs"
Bubbles in creek
Bubbles in creek

We crossed the creek once and then came to an unmarked junction - the trail coming up from the left (West) was the trail from Chuckanut.  Fortunately, the trail ahead up to Oyster Dome was broken by others - so I was off duty.  We crossed the creek again and started heading up - not too steep - and probably a 1/2 mile from the junction - but here is what we were waiting for - breaking out of the trees into a wonderful overlook - looking to the south and west.  Spectacular.  There was one solo woman (on her way down) and three folks/two dogs just getting ready to head down.  All four had come up from the Chuckanut side.
South/Southwest from Oyster Dome overlook
South/Southwest from Oyster Dome overlook
Looking North/Northwest from Oyster Dome overlook
Looking North/Northwest from Oyster Dome overlook
San Juans and Olympics in distance
San Juans and Olympics in distance
Jim K on Oyster Dome overlook
Jim K on Oyster Dome overlook
Looking south from Oyster Dome - Padilla Estuary mid-photo
Looking south from Oyster Dome - Padilla Estuary mid-photo

We enjoyed the views and the great weather - had our lunch - by now it was about 1:45 p.m. - and then decided to head back down.  On our way, we passed a whole bunch of folks - in varying kinds of attire - heading up.  Lots of tennis shoes; even a guy in knee-length shorts.  I doubt that anyone expected this much snow at the top - but the trail was well-beaten and the snow was still soft enough so it wasn't slick (if it gets cold tonight, it will be awful!)  We decided to head back to the Lily Lake junction and take what we believed to be the loop back down to the upper parking area.  It seemed to be right - but we started to get concerned when the route continued to head west - instead of east like we thought it should.  eek.gif  Finally, two women were coming up the trail and said that we were on the right route - but we were still doubtful - because we could see Puget Sound!  We were really getting a little concerned.  But, after about 2.5 miles the trail took a hairpin turn east and we felt a little more assured.  The trail also started losing snow - and there was little snow on the trees by now.
Much less snow on trail and trees on south facing slope
Much less snow on trail and trees on south facing slope

As we got closer to upper parking lot, we got one last great view to the south.
Looking South from trail back to car
Looking South from trail back to car

It did look like some weather was moving in - maybe today turned out to be the better day of the weekend after all.  We got back to the upper parking lot - there were now two cars there - regular ol'cars - they had no trouble getting up the road.  The trek back from the upper lot to the lower lot seemed to take forever - but we were back to the car before 4:00 p.m.  A great choice on a day when other snow options weren't as promising. And, Gus' new haircut seemed to keep the snowballs to a minimum!
Minimal snowballs on the Gusto
Minimal snowballs on the Gusto

Stats (only a guess - but fairly reliable)  11 miles; 1800' gain.  Great day!! winksmile.gif

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Four-paw buddy lets me tag along!
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seawallrunner
dilettante



Joined: 27 Apr 2005
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Location: Lotusland
seawallrunner
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PostSat Feb 02, 2008 11:30 pm 
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ooo nice hike and what beautiful photos. I ran this exact course a few years ago - when the leaves were back on the trees and the ferns were at least knee-high. gorgeous area. lovely to see it under the snow.
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Gabigabs
Trail Breaker



Joined: 07 Nov 2007
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Gabigabs
Trail Breaker
PostSun Feb 03, 2008 10:40 am 
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Great idea for a winter trip. Nice pics.

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Life is simple... Eat, Sleep, Hike!
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Kathleen
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Kathleen
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PostSun Feb 03, 2008 3:57 pm 
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Gusto seems to love snow as much as my dog does. I love that little nose burrowing thing they do.
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Sadie's Driver
Sadie's Driver



Joined: 24 Apr 2006
Posts: 1716 | TRs
Location: Welcome Pass
Sadie's Driver
Sadie's Driver
PostSun Feb 03, 2008 4:33 pm 
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Kathleen wrote:
Gusto seems to love snow as much as my dog does. I love that little nose burrowing thing they do.

I'm counting on Mr. G making me big $$$$ when he finds those truffles!!!! lol.gif  agree.gif

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Four-paw buddy lets me tag along!
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Trevor
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Trevor
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PostSun Feb 03, 2008 5:11 pm 
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Thanks for the update; still need to visit this area. Wasn't expecting quite that much snow there;seems like a good spot to go to get some snowshoing in without the worries of hazardous driving.

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Trevor Anderson Photography
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the Zachster
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the Zachster
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PostSun Feb 03, 2008 5:18 pm 
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What a great winter trip! You sure had more blue sky than we did in North Bend!  cool.gif

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"May I always be the kind of person my dog thinks I am"
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TrailPair
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TrailPair
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PostSun Feb 03, 2008 7:49 pm 
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Even though you found more snow than you had expected being so close to Puget sound,  you had a marvelous day. cool.gif

I hope Gusto finds those truffels!

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This thing called work is interfering with my play
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Sadie's Driver
Sadie's Driver



Joined: 24 Apr 2006
Posts: 1716 | TRs
Location: Welcome Pass
Sadie's Driver
Sadie's Driver
PostSun Feb 03, 2008 8:09 pm 
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TrailPair wrote:
Even though you found more snow than you had expected being so close to Puget sound,  you had a marvelous day. cool.gif

I hope Gusto finds those truffels!

TP - I hope he finds those truffles, too!  I'm counting on him being my 401K-9 plan!!!   winksmile.gif   At least we weren't swimming in snow like you guys did today!   rolleyes.gif

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Four-paw buddy lets me tag along!
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goinbigg17
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goinbigg17
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PostMon Feb 04, 2008 5:24 am 
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Sounds like a great day out!

That can definitely be a confusing hike. The time I went, the mileage on the signs seemed like it was off. If you don't mind, how did you find the trail to the top of Oyster dome? The time I went, the only way we saw to get to the top was through the big boulders which have some deep holes/caves.
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Sadie's Driver
Sadie's Driver



Joined: 24 Apr 2006
Posts: 1716 | TRs
Location: Welcome Pass
Sadie's Driver
Sadie's Driver
PostMon Feb 04, 2008 8:16 am 
Route Finding
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goinbigg17 wrote:
Sounds like a great day out!

That can definitely be a confusing hike. The time I went, the mileage on the signs seemed like it was off. If you don't mind, how did you find the trail to the top of Oyster dome? The time I went, the only way we saw to get to the top was through the big boulders which have some deep holes/caves.

Funny you should ask!  On the lower part of the trail (at least to Lily Lake) - we were on a snow-covered route with no real trail or trench to follow - it was pretty much "assuming" confused.gif  the route through the most "logical"  hmmm.gif direction and what appeared to be a trail (there were occasional blazes to follow).  When we got to the junction at the Lily Lake outlet we headed west along the creek (we remembered that much from the map that was still in the car!) until we crossed it and then followed what surely seemed like a trail - the junction with the Chuckanut trail (coming up from the West) is unmarked.  We were fortunate that there was a boot path in the snow and we followed it up to Oyster Dome.  You really wind your way through the rocks - back at the junction with Chuckanut - you go about 100 yards North/Northeast and cross the creek again and then basically head up - almost due North.  Maybe I can convince Jim to post the map - it's not terribly helpful,  shakehead.gif but it may give you some idea.  It isn't marked and I don't remember seeing any blazes on the trees - there were blazes on the lower part of the trail.

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seawallrunner
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Joined: 27 Apr 2005
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seawallrunner
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PostMon Feb 04, 2008 8:55 am 
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if you had a steep hill to climb, that was on the right path. In the race, it was called Kill Bill Hill (after the race director's first name)
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aywolfpac
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aywolfpac
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PostMon Feb 04, 2008 9:04 am 
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Nice pix.  It looks very similar to my trip just after Christmas.  I came in from the Clayton Beach trailhead and hiked up into Lost Lake.  No snow at the trailhead, just a tad around the Fragrance Lake area, and then about 16 inches around Lost Lake.  No snowshoes, no skis, just my tennie runners.  Makes for tough going, but it's worth it for the views.

I'm heading into that area today looking for the waterfall on Oyster Creek.  We want to stay out of the snow, so we're probably just gonna slosh our way up the creek from the road.  A little wetter, but much easier on the legs.
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JimK
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PostMon Feb 04, 2008 9:10 am 
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Here is a link to the best map I could find:

Blanchard Hill Map

There are no rocks when coming from the east. Sounds like you were coming up from the Chuckanut side. I have not done that route so can offer no specific help. The Chuckanut Trail is shown on the above map in part. The bottom is there as well as the top. The middle is missing. Perhaps it crosses some private land?

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Hiking Northwest
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Sadie's Driver
Sadie's Driver



Joined: 24 Apr 2006
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Location: Welcome Pass
Sadie's Driver
Sadie's Driver
PostMon Feb 04, 2008 8:15 pm 
Snowy Oyster Dome
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Thanks, Jim.  The map did leave a little to be desired!!!  Aywolfpac - hope you had a good trip and it wasn't too slick.  Seawallrnr:  Yes, steep little pitch at the end, eh?  Bill deserves whatever wrath you can bestow on him!!   lol.gif

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Four-paw buddy lets me tag along!
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