Trail Pair were itching to get back out even though the weather outlook was less than enticing. Our initial plan was to head up Web via Dirty Harry's Museum. But Barry checked the web cams on Snoqualmie at 6:45 a.m. and it looked like the skies were clear on the east side of the Pass. A quick call to Bob and Kolleen and our plans shifted to trying a new route of Keechelus Ridge. Opus (David) was clueless about what he was in for today - trusting us to take good care of him. Since all of us were too to attempt any steep slope stuff, Keechelus turned out to be a perfect choice for many reasons. The first, the weather was absolutely crummy by the time we reached Exit 38 - (where we would have turned off for Dirty Harry/Web) and the roads were not good. As we continued on east, the roads improved some (snowplows probably had a lot to do with that!) and by the time we reached the summit, the roads were in great shape and the skies were clearing. (Note - Summit West & East ski areas were closed - only Summit Central and Alpental were open today.) We took the Stampede Pass exit, crossed over I-90 and headed west to access the Sno-Park. At 8:45 a.m. there already was a boatload of "bubblers" accessing the area.
We headed out a little after 9:00 a.m.
staying on the road for less than a mile. In fact between here
is where you want to start heading up towards the ridge. We disregarded all previous routes we have taken (some closer to Price Creek) and the directions in the "Snowshoe Routes" book and decided to give this a go. Just before we left the road, we put on our snowshoes
- well, the two-legged hikers. Gus was hell bent on catching a snowmobiler and chased down two - I really don't know what he would do with one if he caught it! A quick reprimand and he was back in line as we headed up this new ridge walk.
We were encouraged as we saw the skies clearing - maybe this would be our first weekend in March with decent weather!
As we got higher, the sun was out and so were our sunglasses.
The snow was about knee-deep (less in the trees) - it got deeper the higher we hiked - hip deep in spots - but mostly about 12 - 18" of soft, powdery snow - a lot less than we thought we might hit. Alas, as we climbed higher - avoiding the road entirely, except to cross it about 3 or 4 times - the clouds started to move in. So much for the 11:00 a.m. clearing predicted by the National Weather Service! In fact, the fog/clouds closed in around us quickly and the wind picked up some. As we continued on, we caught a glimpse of the tower about 3/4 of a mile away, but that would be the last we would see of it until we were just about a football field away . . .
By now, the wind had picked up considerably and we all agreed it was time to put on a few more layers and try to find some wind-break. It had only taken us two hours to reach the tower - much quicker than any of us had made it to the tower before. This new route was pretty cool. Conveniently, there was a little concrete equipment bunker that provided a great shelter.
Someone decided to check the views from the rooftop.
For some reason, Opus has this need to stand on roofs! After a lovely lunch break - and with the arrival of many more snowmobiles -
we decided it was a good time to head down. We almost lost our tracks back, because some snowmobilers decided to follow OUR tracks up (glad we could break trail for them ) but our trek back was quick.
It had started snowing on our way back and as we were approaching the parking lot we had a mix of snow, clouds, sun and blue skies . . .
We were back to the cars before 1:00 p.m. - less than 4 hours, including our lunch break! The GPS said 5 3/4 miles and probably about 2200' of gain or so. We left a good trench - so, enjoy! Nice to have TrailPair back with us, even though little Luis had to miss this trip. Another good reason for not doing Web today, as we passed that area on our way home, we were pelted by a rain/snow mix. Probably about the time we would have been summiting Web! Good choice to continue on to Keechelus Ridge! Fun "morning" romp!!
I showed up at the park and ride not knowing where the heck we were going. A nice surprise! Best route I've taken up Keechelus ridge, thanks for the idea Trailpair! The weather was much better than I'd expected too. Some really dramatic clouds and sunbreaks on top.
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