Snowshoeing

Gold Creek Pond Snowshoeing

Today, Kim and I went snowshoeing with our friends Michelle and Laura at the Gold Creek Sno Park on Snoqualmie Pass. The temperature was in the low to mid 30s, and there was a ton of snow overnight followed by a light rain.  The conditions for an avalanche were high, and avalanche warnings were posted. Originally, we planned  to follow a guide book route up the Gold Creek Valley.  Instead, we decided to do a loop around the Gold Creek Pond keeping us far from any avalanche hazards.

We arrived at the park before anyone else and geared up!

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Since we were the first people there, we got to cut a new trail through all of the fresh snow.  It was thick and heavy.  So heavy that Laura’s snowshoes straps broke just as we were getting started!  Michelle was kind enough to lend Laura her snowshoes, and hiked along in just her boots.  To make things a bit easier, she followed along at the end of the line.

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In the summer, you can drive almost all the way into the pond, and there is a picnic area with a nice trail that loops around.  In the winter, you have to snowshoe/ski in about 3/4 of a mile to get to the summer parking area.  We followed the road into the parking area, and then (mostly) followed the trail using my GPS (the topo map had the trail marked).

This is the outlet creek from the pond.

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The pond itself was mostly frozen over and covered with snow.  We did not think it would be a good idea to go out on the ice.

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This is a typical section of the trail that we hadn’t cut yet.  There was probably 12”-16” of new snow that was heavy, heavy, heavy!

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A small creek comes in at the north end of the pond keeping the ice clear.DSC00615

They had a couple of cool bridges on the north end, but I didn’t take any pictures.  The snow was piled higher than the handrails that the summer hikers use.

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At the end of the trip, we broke out the jetboils to make some warm food and hot chocolate!DSC00617

The trip was just about 3 miles in length and took us about 2 hours to complete.  All of the details from my gps can be found here.

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Sunny Day Snowshoeing

What a busy day!  Started off with a quick workout with the Pro Club Triathlon team, followed by coaching a girls basketball game, and topped off with trying out our new snowshoes!

Our destination for the day – Lower Gold Creek Basin.  The weather was sunny and cold, absolutely perfect!  As such, we figured that parking would be a challenge, and we were not wrong.  On the way up, the active highway signs displayed a notification with the list of sno parks that were full.  Fortunately, ours was not listed.

We wish it would have been…the access to Lower Gold Creek is a narrow road that has parking on one side.   We made our way down and the parking was packed.  After about a quarter of a mile, all the traffic stopped.  We waited (and waited, and waited, ok it was only 15 minutes or so) to find out that a large trailer was trying to come from the other end of the road, and it couldn’t fit between the parked cars and the line of traffic heading into the area.  Complicating things were all of the people who thought the line of traffic were parked cars, and started going down the oncoming lane.  Ultimately, everyone had to back out of the road so the trailer could get out!

At this point, we gave up on Lower Gold Creek and decided to check out the other sno parks in the area.  It turns out that there was parking at Hyak, even though the signs coming up the pass indicated that it was full.  This particular park is an access to the John Wayne Trail.    The John Wayne Trail is a “rail trail” (an old railroad bed that has been converted to a trail).  This section is groomed for cross country skiers and snowshoers.  In fact, here comes the groomer now…

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After proceeding down the trail a bit, we took off on a side trail that was also groomed…in the summer, this is the access road to the boat launch on Keechelus Lake.

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Had to get a quick picture of my snowshoe buddies!

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And a self portrait…no mirrors around, so a shadow will have to suffice.

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We relaxed for a little bit at the boat launch and I took a quick panorama looking north – the valley in the middle of the picture was our original destination.

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After we were done at the boat launch, we explored off the groomed trails. As we moved under the trees, the snow turned pretty icy. The snowshoes that Kim picked out were awesome – they have great big cleats on them, so going up and down icy hills is not an issue.

We made our way back to the car after logging 4 miles while we were out and about.  The sun was going down and it was getting pretty cold, so we broke out the Jetboil and made some hot chocolate.  Yum!

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