Kaddee’s Cairo Chronicles

December 4, 2011

Snowshoeing – Gold Creek

Filed under: Snowshoeing — Kaddee @ 9:44 pm

I don’t know if anyone is still reading this, but I’m going to post anyway.  It has been a long time.  We are not in Cairo anymore (for a long time), but life still continues.

So…today was the first day of snowshoeing for the season.  We attempted to go last Sunday, but the attempt had to be aborted for horrific rain – not worth writing about.  Today was glorious and sunny, even in Seattle, so after a late-ish start we headed out I-90 for the Pass and some snow.  I recently purchased “Snowshoe Routes: Washington” (2ed.) from the Mountaineers.  I am both excited and a little disappointed about the book.  It gives some good information about places to go snowshoeing, however the presentation leaves a bit to be desired, in my humble opinion.  First is the map – there is a map of the state at the front of the book with 100 small numbered dots indicating the approximate position of each trail.  This is insufficient.  The trails are “clumped” in regional clusters that should each be their own focus map with a bit more detail.  Second is the “details” list for each trail – it lists the difficulty, length, elevation gain, etc.  all of which is very pertinent for assessing the trail, however the directions (exit off the highway, Sno-Park etc.) are typically 2 or 3 paragraphs into the description.  This does not make for easy assessment of destination.  Third, and last (regarding the book) is that the directions to the trail-head or along the trail are not easy if you are not an orienteer.  Example: “Start the hike by heading north along the narrow access road (Forest Road 144) on the eastern side of Mardee Lake.”  I can guess which way is north and which dirt road they mean, but it could be described more clearly.

We set out for hike #58 – “Twin Lakes” only to realize that, although the small, trail map showed it as Keechelus Sno-Park, it was ACTUALLY Hyak Sno-Park, which is a groomed trail facility (we only have the non-groomed pass at present).  The map shows Keechelus Sno-Park, but the directions say Hyak.  I didn’t notice that until we were mostly there.  Luckily, on the same exit was the Gold Creek Sno-Park, which is a non-groomed area.  I quickly scanned the listing for “Lower Gold Creek Basin” (hike #53) and decided that we would do that instead of risking a ticket for going to Hyak without a groomed area pass.  It turned out to be a good thing, as there was a ranger ticketing cars at Gold Creek that had no Sno-Park passes displayed!

Our adventure – exit 54 off I-90 (Hyak exit), go left under the highway and park just on the other side of the highway along the small road.  The weather was clear and crisp.  The snow was packed down and grainy with a stiff crust on top – not the greatest, but fine for a first adventure out for the season.  We walked a little way up the Fire Service road, crossed a small bridge and then put on the snowshoes to start up the hill.  The climb was steady but not too steep.  We passed, and were passed by, families, couples, athletic individuals and people out for a stroll.  There were lots of dogs and sleds on the trail.  About where we were ready to turn around (not at the END or anything) we came upon a “field training” of the volunteer, backcountry ski patrol.  They seemed to be having a great time looking for avalanche beacons and practicing backcountry first-aid. (Luckily, we did not require their professional assistance for anything!)  As always, the descent was much easier and faster than the climb.  We covered between 2.5 and 2.75miles and had a really good time.  We’re both going to have to get into better shape for the snow before the Romp to Stomp in February!

When we got back to the truck to come home, I realized that we had NOT done the hike we thought we had done!  We set out for #58 (Twin Lakes), changed to #53 (Lower Gold Creek Basin) but actually DID the lower part of #52 (Kendall Peak Lakes) which was marked as much harder than either of our “choices”!  LOL – so I bought a guide and I STILL can’t find the right trail.  No worries – we had a great time anyway.