Forum Index > Trip Reports > Keechelus Ridge (USGS Stampede Pass) 11/18/17
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Matt
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Joined: 29 Jan 2007
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Matt
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Tea, Earl Grey, Hot
PostWed Nov 29, 2017 12:28 am 
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Date: 11/18/17
Destination:  Keechelus Ridge (USGS Stampede Pass) 5151 feet, 651P
Party: Matt, Cartman

This trip had 4 stages:
1) Driving in circles on scenic I-90 because we forgot that Exit 60 no longer exists due to road construction.
2) Gaining exercise lower down by snowshoeing up untracked snow-covered roads.
3) Easier travel higher up hiking on tracks from every conceivable kind of snow transit.
4) Breaking trail under magnificent tall snowy trees to the tree-covered summit.

Kecheelus Ridge GPS track, with some road labels
Kecheelus Ridge GPS track, with some road labels
Amid the tall snowy trees of Keechelus Ridge
Amid the tall snowy trees of Keechelus Ridge

This route used to start from the Price Creek Sno Park at I-90 Exit 60.  Not any more.  I should have realized why there were no trip reports since 2013.  That area is now one giant construction zone, with no way to exit the highway.  So we looped back and forth on I-90.  First we had gone east to Exit 62 and then back to Exit 60, where you used to be able to exit on the north side.  Since there was no exit, we had to drive farther west to Exit 54 at Hyak before we could turn around.  Then we drove back east to Exit 62, took the Kachess Lake Road north 0.9 miles, and happily found that Road 4832 had only a few inches of snow and was driveable.  So 1.5 miles back west on that road took us to the junction with Road 124, where we rejoined the traditional snowshoe route.

Eric looking oddly expressive where we parked at the junction of Roads 4832 and 124
Eric looking oddly expressive where we parked at the junction of Roads 4832 and 124

The lower roads were surprisingly untracked.  Thus we got a workout breaking trail with our snowshoes.  As we ascended the gray ceiling overhead took on an increasingly blue tone, until we finally broke out above the clouds.

Breaking trail up the snowy road
Breaking trail up the snowy road
Gray skies lightening to blue
Gray skies lightening to blue
Transition from clouds to sun
Transition from clouds to sun

At 4400 feet we reached the 4934 road and found it heavily tracked by vehicles coming up from the left and ascending to the summit.  By this time, we were glad to walk on the packed snow and have a break from breaking trail.   For the next segment, we followed various tracks from pretty much every kind of snow transit method.

The road on the right was untracked, for all of about five minutes, and then a pickup with giant tires came up, making its own path through the fresh snow.  Later on, we were passed by some kind of snow-dune-buggies – they looking like big dune buggy frames mounted with snow tires.  Leaving the road to cut a switchback, we punched steps up some downhill ski tracks, and then went farther up on snowmobile tracks.  Back on the higher road, we also saw some snow bikes – snowmobiles with a single front ski and the driver in a standing position.

This segment also brought us into open sunlight, with lots of snowy trees.  Snowy Trees!  Yay!

First pickup tracks on the road
First pickup tracks on the road
Folllowing snowmobile tracks above the clouds
Folllowing snowmobile tracks above the clouds
Rainier view
Rainier view
Following tracks upward
Following tracks upward
Fine flocked trees along the higher road
Fine flocked trees along the higher road

Just before reaching the radio tower, we turned eastward made our own snowshoe path toward the true summit.  Once we left the road, it felt like we were in a whole different world.  No machines or noise or tracks, just ourselves hiking through the silent forest, surrounded by tall trees soaring upward to snowy crowns.  (We were also glad it stayed cold and calm, so none of those snow loads fell on us.)   Travel up the ridge was hard work with soft snow and occasional brush, but we continued till we reached the far eastern end  of the summit where a rock outcrop seemed to be the highest point.

Into the snowy trees
Into the snowy trees
Big snow load overhead
Big snow load overhead
Eric breaking trail past a smaller guardian
Eric breaking trail past a smaller guardian
Snowy trees small and tall
Snowy trees small and tall
Clouds of snow and snowballs of cloud above us
Clouds of snow and snowballs of cloud above us
Eric higher on the crest
Eric higher on the crest
Summit tea
Summit tea

Views were mostly obstructed by the trees, but we did find a few glimpses of the Snoqualmie Crest peaks north from us.

Shadowy snow goblins with Lemah, Chimney Rock and Summit Chief in the background
Shadowy snow goblins with Lemah, Chimney Rock and Summit Chief in the background
Wider view of the valley northward
Wider view of the valley northward
Hiking back down through the tall trees
Hiking back down through the tall trees
Snow Angel
Snow Angel

Stats: 8.9 miles, 2580 cumulative gain, 7:00 hours

P.S.  I really like snowy trees, in case no one noticed.

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“As beacons mountains burned at evening.” J.R.R. Tolkien
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Nancyann
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Joined: 28 Jul 2013
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Location: Sultan Basin
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PostWed Nov 29, 2017 11:48 am 
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Thanks for the entertaining trip report, Matt. I love those tall snowy trees, so pretty until the wind starts blowing, then time to be bombarded!
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Mtngirl717
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Joined: 05 May 2015
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PostWed Nov 29, 2017 12:09 pm 
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Wow, we were just up there on Sunday and did not get those gorgeous summit views! Also there was a lot less snow, we heard snowmobilers but saw no one.

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What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
-Mary Oliver
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