Surprise Lake Snowshoe 12/21/2016

Mileage: 8.6 miles RT

Elevation Gain/Highest: 2300ft/4500ft

Map: Green Trails Stevens Pass No 176

Favorite Eats After Hike: Wallace Falls Cafe

Find out current conditions and as always, practice Leave No Trace.  Pretty Please.

My Hike:

12/21/2016  What a beautiful day! I was glad we could get out before the new snow comes and the roads become even harder to drive up to THs.  We picked this one because you don’t have to drive in far and for the most part it rambles along the Surprise Creek.  We knew we might only make it so far with the avalanche condition being considerable for today and there are several places along the trail after you cross the footbridge at 1.8 miles.

We parked just across the railroad tracks, the snow to the TH was deep and not recently driven on.  This adds about .6 miles to the hike. We were able to put our snowshoes on from the car, the snow had a top crust though and we hoped for more powder once we were on the trail.

It didn’t take long for the snow to deepen, much more snow than when I did this back last December.  You would have to be familiar with the trail to recognize the wooden steps on the first section under all that white.

The first log bridge was a little sketchy but the kids made it look easy.  It didn’t seem to be too long before we got to the main log bridge at 1.8 miles and crossed over to the east side of the creek.

In order to mitigate slide potential, we stayed as close to the creek as possible for the rest of our trip, spacing ourselves in the open areas.

The trail stays fairly level here as you continue along the creek with its icy waterfalls. 

The sun glistened through the trees as the blue skies teased us from above.

At the 3 mile mark where the trail begins its steep ascent up, we did our best to keep the creek on our right and still weave through the trees and scree.

There would be no tight switchbacks to lead us up like they do in summer, it was basically straight up. It got to the point where postholing was up to our waist, often at times where it would have gone deeper if holding onto the snow hadn’t keep us from sinking lower.

It was 12:30pm when we reached the 3750ft mark and I decided to was time to call that our turn around point. We were still headed in the right direction as we had passed some flagging but I was worried about the postholing even in snowshoes. We sat and ate lunch quickly before fingers froze and then made our way back down in our tracks back to the car about 3pm.  We only saw 3 other folks today, heading up without snowshoes punching through all over the place. I wondered what they would do without us breaking trail for them…

Directions: Drive US 2 east to Skykomish and then continue for another 10 miles.  Turn right (just after passing the Iron Goat Interpretive Site on your left) into a large paved turnout. Cross the railroad tracks and turn right, following a narrow and bumpy dirt road 0.3 mile to the TH.  It is a very small parking lot but it does have a picnic table and pit toilet.

 

For more snowshoes, click HERE.

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