4 mi rt
gain: 3163 ft
max: 6270 ft
gpx track, use at your own risk: Snoqualmie
Yes, you read that right…that is 3163 ft gain in just 2 miles. Oh, there was snow for the last mile, up to a foot, foot and a half in places.
I was down in Auburn visiting my fam and while they went and did their Sunday thing, I went and did mine. Snoqualmie Mnt. had been on the list for a while and I figured why not today.
I got to the parking area (N47 26.699 W121 25.434) at around 7:45 and was on the trail a short while after. I anticipated snow so I had full winter gear: light crampons (Hillsounds), gaiters, two puffy coats and my hard shell top and bottom, two pairs of gloves and water proof overmitts, hat, emergency bivy, extra food, headlamp, nebulizer (for the asthma), Delorme Explorer (for SAR if needed). Man, I need a lot of stuff!
I figured hey, it is just two miles…this should just take a short while. Hours later, I got to the top! The trail starts up just 100 ft or so from the trail for Snow Lake. It starts in a brushy field and very quickly starts gaining elevation where the trail and the creek are basically one. There were many spots I had to use my hands but I am short. I did have to down-climb a lot of this on my way down because I am short. And my foot/leg was hurting bad.
There are no switchbacks on this route. After leaving the creek/trail the up continues through a forested area. The views are limited in this section of the trail. Near the end of the forested climb, the trail crosses over the top of a waterfall, do not slip here.
At the top of the trees, the views start as the trail is finally free of all that view limiting greenery. The day was pretty overcast but the local views were nice. This is also where the snow was consistent and got deeper quickly. The top really isn’t visible yet, first you have to get up a rather steep hill. I was third one up so I had it easy and just followed in the steps of those who broke trail before me. After going up that first hump, the summit comes in view but at that point it became apparent that I had to really want it because I was going to have to earn it.
Slow and steady is my way. Guy two that was ahead of me turned around shortly after the summit came into view, probably best, he didn’t have gaiters or gloves or a hat and he looked very cold. Guy number one had already got to the top and had gone back down so that meant that I was alone. In the snow. Near the top of a mountain. I kept going of course.
Following the tracks of guy one had me going up the side of the ridge and near the top passing about 5 ft from the edge of a 500 ft or so sheer drop. That got my heart going. But at this point I had my crampons on for extra traction so it really wasn’t as life threatening as it sounds. That said, I took a different way down.
It started snowing hard while I was at the top and it was cold. I was in a cloud and there were no views. I didn’t stay long. About a third of a mile down the mountain I ran into a group of 4 young men heading up, guess I wasn’t all alone. Those were the last people I saw for the rest of the trail down.