A great hike in a winter Wonderland…Snow Lake is the place to go! A busy trail in the summer, this hike is the place to be on a late fall/early winter weekday. A great way hike to kick off December with: tromping through the woods wearing microspikes, hiking on snow and ice, perfect weather, excellent views, amazingly beautiful lake… The hike was sullied by an unfortunate snowshoe-theft-ish incident, BUT all snowshoe related matters have been resolved and all is right again. Read on for more details…
Monday, December 1, 2014. Hike: Snow Lake, 10.0 miles. Elevation gain: 2000 feet. High point: 5100 feet.
Eve and I both had the day off from REI so we decided to put our snowshoes (we were hoping there would be enough snow) and microspikes, to the test. Eve had run the Seattle Marathon the day prior. Yes, you read that correctly. She ran an entire marathon. Yesterday. Therefore, we got on the trail late, around 11 am instead of 8.
Traffic leaving the city was manageable. The mountains surrounding I-90 were covered with a perfect pristine amount of snow. A handful of cars sat in the parking lot. We (hopefully) donned our snowshoes immediately. We’ll need them, right? Totally. And walked along the packed snow trail for about a half mile when we ran into our first fellow hiker. He wore microspikes. And told us snowshoes were unnecessary. Ok, time to trade the shoes for spikes. Check. Shoes stashed off trail, check. We propped them against a fallen tree root and buried them in snow to hide them. They were only slightly visible from the trail, so if you squinted you could see them. But having stashed gear dozens of times, we were trusting and we decided this was our best option. After all, this was a weekday, which meant fewer people on trail, and little hiker traffic past our precious snowshoes.
We passed a pleasant looking family – two men with their two kids – as they skirted patches of ice. They turned around at a treacherous stretch just after we passed them. Our microspikes were perfect for the trail. We crossed ice and snow like it was our job. And we ran into some fellow REI peeps who recognized us by our REI packs! One of them worked at headquarters. Sweet! We chatted a bit and continued on our way. At the junction to Source Lake, we ran into another pair of guys coming from that direction. Quick chat. Continue up.
Then we hit the switchbacks that lead the ridge. So awesome! Super warm. Such great views. Icicles clinging to the rocks above. Sun drenching the slope. Drips of water falling. And the sound of ice falling on soft snow. Amazing views of the valley from the top.
Once at the top of the ridge, we bore left. We stopped to take in views of Snow Lake from the Overlook. We were already in shadow so we put on our puffies to eat cliff bars and cheese-its. Two gray jays joined us and hopped in circles around us. Sorry guys, no food today.
With enough sunlight left that the lake was still basking in sun, we hiked out of the ridge’s shadow. Passing through a patch of alpenglow we returned to the warmth of the sun. I quickly realized that I’d dropped my phone at the overlook, so went back for it and was happy/super relieved to find it laying face down in the snow, not gone after careening off a cliff. Whew. We continued right, over the frozen stream, hopped across frozen rocks, and reached the huge boulder at the end of the trail. The entire lake was frozen and criss-crossed with cracks. The lake overlook was gorgeous. We marveled at the fact that such a beautiful spot existed a mere hour from Seattle. After obligatory REI pack shots were snapped in front of the frozen lake, the return trip began.
Back in shadow quickly, a couple and their dog passed us on their way down to Snow Lake. We were impressed/shocked that the chick was wearing casual boots. Total gear judgy time. We passed another couple at the top of the ridge. By now the once sunny switchback-covered slope was covered in shadow. Sun sets at 4:30! Bounding down the trail, we talked about past hiking adventures and continued to remind ourselves to retrieve the snowshoes. Down, down, down. Over snow. Across ice.
We reached the stash spot at last. And discovered to our horror – no snowshoes. Only a void where our snowshoes had once been. Someone had taken our gear. Bastards! Lame. Bogus. Ridiculous. I was too disappointed in my faith in humanity to be angry. I was just annoyed and confused. Had someone really taken stashed gear? Who would do that? Seriously? I tried to maintain hope…maybe some naive hiker had brought them to the trailhead thinking we had dropped them in a very strategic place by accident? Hmm…
Eve and I picked up the pace. We were at the bottom in no time. And no snowshoes in sight. Not in the parking lot, not propped against the trail sign. Nowhere. Argh. We crossed the parking lot and asked the dude in the rental shop if someone had turned them in? No dice. Harumph. A guy was getting in his car just as we were getting back to Eve’s car, so we asked him. And of course he hadn’t seen them. Lame. The couple with the dog and the casual boots appeared, and we asked them. No sign. Everyone seemed nice and sympathetic and as equally perplexed as us that someone would take stashed gear. Sigh.
So we drove back to the city with two fewer pairs of snowshoes than we’d set out with. But it was a beautiful, beautiful hike. A winter wonderland. Overall the hike deserves a 9/10. It would have been worthy of a 10 if it weren’t for the unfortunate snowshoe incident. But the sunset on the return drive was epic. Pink and orange shades dominated the clouds.
Saturday, December 6. UPDATE:
Snowshoes found! Gear retrieved! Yay snowshoes!
So, it turns out someone took the hidden/buried/carefully stashed snowshoes out of their hiding place so that nobody would take them. Yes, you heard that right. Someone stole the snowshoes so that they wouldn’t get stolen. Weird but true. Anyhow, Eve and I drove to pick them up today. And we are very glad to have them.
Remember folks: if someone stashes gear, don’t take it. Leave it where you found it. Don’t try to be a hero. Seriously. Just leave it.