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Tom
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PostWed Aug 21, 2019 4:05 pm 
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Neek's Chikamin TR piqued my interest in revisiting the Kendall Peak Lakes logging road.  In 2003 we climbed Chikamin looping in via Rocky Run and out via the Kendall "back door" (a spur road that came within 400' or so vertical of the PCT).  A year later the Kendall Peak Lakes road was barricaded 1/4 mile from Gold Creek.  I remember the road being in good shape back in 2003 so was curious what kind of toll 15+ years had taken.

I've never been up to the lakes but they must be getting more popular as I found 2 other cars parked mid-week.  The road was bikeable although steep and rocky in spots so I biked in lowest gear most of the way up.  Around 3700' I hit a spot where things got brushy.  After getting past this section I realized this was where the old spur road used to be.  I back tracked and found the spur.  It was overgrown so I stashed the bike to investigate.  Walking was tedious and brushy and I regretted not putting on long pants.  The road washed out at Coal Creek (more likely was decommissioned) and it was a steep but short scramble to get across.  I went a little further and scrambled over another washed out creek crossing.  Definitely not carrying a bike through either of those sections!  The road ahead looked unappealingly steep and hot so I decided to turn around at this point.

Parking Area
Parking Area
Barricade
Barricade
Wildflowers at first switchback
Wildflowers at first switchback
One of the more pleasant sections of road
One of the more pleasant sections of road
First signs of fall
First signs of fall
Old PCT back door
Old PCT back door
Snoqualmie Pass Ski Area
Snoqualmie Pass Ski Area
Coal Creek Washout
Coal Creek Washout
Not very bikeable!
Not very bikeable!
A semi-pleasant section of the decommissioned road
A semi-pleasant section of the decommissioned road

I retreated to my bike and continued up the road to the next switchback where I think an alternate backdoor used to exist.  There was a boot path branching left but upon investigation it disappeared after scrambling over Coal Creek where things got brushy fast and swallowed by vine maple.  I am guessing one could still access the PCT from the lakes.  If I ever get up that way I may investigate, but can't imagine it being a very appealing way to access the PCT, even with a pedal assisted bike.

Switchback where I stopped
Switchback where I stopped
Boopath to vine maple
Boopath to vine maple
RIP back door
RIP back door
Brushing along road
Brushing along road
Brushing along road (probably more helpful in winter)
Brushing along road (probably more helpful in winter)
Snoqualmie Pass from Road
Snoqualmie Pass from Road
Experimenting with simulated bokeh on my Pixel 3
Experimenting with simulated bokeh on my Pixel 3
Wildflowers
Wildflowers

Out of curiosity I pulled up the old aerial imagery of the area.  Looks like they decommissioned the spur road(s) after 2006.  For reference, the PCT is indicated by the green line to the upper left.

8/1994
8/1994
7/1998
7/1998
7/2003
7/2003
8/2006
8/2006
9/2009
9/2009
11/2011
11/2011
7/2012
7/2012
6/2015
6/2015
7/2017
6 labels
7/2017
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Tom
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PostMon Aug 26, 2019 12:02 am 
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Decided to explore more on Saturday.  Left the parking area around 12:45 PM and made quick work up the road reaching my previous turnaround point within a half hour.

2 other vehicles
2 other vehicles
Old PCT shortcut to upper left RIP
Old PCT shortcut to upper left RIP
Previous trunaround
Previous trunaround

After pushing the bike thru some overgrowth and bypassing a washout things started to open up again for easy riding.  I biked the remaining way other than to push the bike thru a large downed tree (thanks to whoever cut a wide enough swath).  Passed a few people coming down including a couple who had biked up.  Reached the obvious boot path to the lakes by 2 PM and stashed the bike.

Road washing away
Road washing away
Snoqualmie Pass
Snoqualmie Pass
Zooming in 25x to Snoqualmie Pass
Zooming in 25x to Snoqualmie Pass
Flower
Flower
Zooming in to old PCT shortcut RIP
Zooming in to old PCT shortcut RIP
Upper section of road
Upper section of road
Downed tree
Downed tree
Old PCT shortcut RIP
Old PCT shortcut RIP
Bootpath to lakes
Bootpath to lakes

Within 10 minutes reached the first lake which is quite marshy but photogenic.  Pushed on and traversed above the middle lake until I stumbled on the steep boot path heading up to the higher lake which was worth the effort.

Arriving at lower lake
Arriving at lower lake
Marshy meadows
Marshy meadows
Leaving lower lake
Leaving lower lake
Traversing above middle lake
Traversing above middle lake
Arriving at upper lake
Arriving at upper lake
Upper lake
Upper lake
Upper lake from campsite
Upper lake from campsite

Decided to continue exploring above the lake to see if I could find a way to traverse to the PCT.  It ended up being sketchier than I was comfortable with and eventually dropped a hundred feet to easier traversing and then open forest above the middle lake.  A short bit later I crested the ridge above the PCT where a bootpath headed down.  Obviously I'm not the first to go this way.

Leaving upper lake
Leaving upper lake
Found this a bit too sketchy to traverse
Found this a bit too sketchy to traverse
Much easier to traverse
Much easier to traverse
Middle lake peeking out
Middle lake peeking out
Traversing high above middle lake
Traversing high above middle lake
Traversed into open forest
Traversed into open forest
Follow the light
Follow the light
Approaching the ridge
Approaching the ridge
Boot path down to PCT
Boot path down to PCT

After dropping down to the PCT I hiked for a bit and was tempted to continue to the katwalk but it looked like weather was approaching so decided to call it a day.

PCT
PCT
Making mental note of mound for my return
Making mental note of mound for my return
Incoming weather
Incoming weather

On my return I headed straight down to middle lake.  Things got a tad bushier as I got closer to the lake but nothing to complain about.  Took my time photographing middle and lower lake and then back to my bike.  Had a blast biking down the road and in less than 30 minutes was back to the parking area.  Fun day to be out in the mountains.  If you enjoy mixing bike with hike and a little off trail this is a fun option to shortcut the monotony of the PCT.

Found it a tad brushier approahcing middle lake
Found it a tad brushier approahcing middle lake
Descending to middle lake
Descending to middle lake
Arriving at middle lake
Arriving at middle lake
Fishing middle lake
Fishing middle lake
Father and daughter
Father and daughter
Bathtub ring around middle lake
Bathtub ring around middle lake
Campsite at middle lake
Campsite at middle lake
Leaving middle lake
Leaving middle lake
Lower lake
Lower lake
Abstract 25x zoom
Abstract 25x zoom
Incoming weather
Incoming weather
Back to the parking area
Back to the parking area
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iron
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getting old
PostMon Aug 26, 2019 12:27 am 
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good to see tom TRs!

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man, you go through life, you try to be nice to people, you struggle to resist the urge to punch 'em in the face, and for what?

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Tom
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PostMon Aug 26, 2019 12:54 am 
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Thanks. Feels good to get out again. Body can't take the pounding that it used to. Oh to be a decade younger but with age comes the wisdom to savor each opportunity that much more.
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fourteen410
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PostMon Aug 26, 2019 7:29 am 
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Only seen the upper lake in winter. It's much more pleasant looking in the summer than I'd expect. Thanks for sharing.
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Roly Poly
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PostMon Aug 26, 2019 7:36 am 
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How was the noise from I-90?  When I went there you could hear I-90 pretty loud for the first three miles.  One other hiker I met turned around as the noise was too loud for him.  I’ve never gone back.
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Gil
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PostMon Aug 26, 2019 7:56 am 
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Nice report, Tom!

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Tom
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PostMon Aug 26, 2019 9:39 am 
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I don't recall much noise along the road but I was biking most of rhe way. When I stopped to take pictures I don't recall freeway noise like say from granite mountain. I think I would probably get bored up there pretty quick though and the lakes do have a bit of a bathtub ring to them.

The few reports I found online indicated the lakea weren't that popular in summer but was surprised to see how many GPS track recordings were posted on alltrails. I encountered more people than the parking area indicated but I think some park further down the road right off the freeway. I wouldn't go up there without a bike in summer.
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Malachai Constant
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PostMon Aug 26, 2019 12:19 pm 
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We go up there most every winter. Very popular it is about only place you do not need a grooming pass. Smelly from dog leavings when the snow melts. Haven’t been up in Summer since they blocked it.

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"You do not laugh when you look at the mountains, or when you look at the sea." Lafcadio Hearn
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RandyHiker
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PostTue Aug 27, 2019 4:43 am 
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Walking up the road in the summer is way less crowded on a sunny weekend than the PCT or Snow Lake trail or most of other trails along the I-90 corridor.  My dog loved romping free along there. An umbrella helps with the sun beating down while traversing the clear cuts.  Great views of Mt Rainier and the Alpental valley.
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Backpacker Joe
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PostTue Aug 27, 2019 8:35 pm 
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Great report Thomas.  How far would you say it is from the PCT to the middle lake?  There is supposed to be a well used trail somewhere just before the middle lake that connects to the PCT.

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Tom
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PostTue Aug 27, 2019 8:49 pm 
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I didn't see anything that looked well used but maybe there is another route or perhaps I lost it on the way down.  I crested at the LD in wilderness on the quad.

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Backpacker Joe
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PostTue Aug 27, 2019 9:20 pm 
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Thanks.  I know Big Steve has talked about using the connector trial in the past.  Im heading back in there in September.  Ill look for it then.  Its way nicer up there in the fall.

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"If destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen we must live through all time or die by suicide."

— Abraham Lincoln
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Malachai Constant
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PostTue Aug 27, 2019 10:16 pm 
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Used to go there every summer there never was a “well used trail” there was a route from the middle lake to the PCT which had flags ever 50’ or so until I and others took them down. I was up there on the PCT a couple weeks ago and identified where it used to go but could see no real trace. There was a swale but that could have been a game trail. If you have to walk/ride the road it is not that much shorter than the Commonwealth Basin trail.

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"You do not laugh when you look at the mountains, or when you look at the sea." Lafcadio Hearn
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puzzlr
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PostSat Aug 31, 2019 9:25 pm 
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I like the sequence of old aerial photos. And I often wondered about that back door route. If they just hadn't made the PCT route so circuitous people wouldn't be constantly trying to find short cuts.

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Mid Fork Rocksflickr
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