Photos from recent trips I've led for Everett Parks and Recreation.  Photo captions are under each picture.  Navigate through the photos by clicking the arrows on the sides of the photo.  Clicking on photo will expand the size.  Enjoy! 

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Snowshoe 12/30  Lake Wenatchee State Park

 

Driving through pouring rain around Skykomish, there was no hint that we would enjoy a mostly sunny day over by Lake Wenatchee a few hours later. But that we did, and it made for a nice loop route on the snowshoe trails in the South Unit of the state park. Snow was looking a little worse for wear after an inch of rain fell the previous day, but the trail was generally OK with up to about 14 inches of snow remaining on the ground. Especially nice was our lunch spot along Nason Creek, with sunshine and calm winds making it feel positively spring-like.  

Snowshoe 12/29  Kachess Ridge
(alternate for Heather Meadows)

 

Our scheduled trip to Artist Point at Heather Meadows was thrown out after hearing of the expected high winds and heavy rain in the forecast. After combing the weather maps looking for a drier alternative, I suggested this area east of Snoqualmie Pass. It wasn't totally dry-- nowhere was on this day, but up until maybe 1:00pm it wasn't half bad. Our group of 6 climbed over 1600 feet up from the valley bottom and reached some nice semi-open slopes offering surprisingly sweet views over the area. We stopped for lunch and then headed back, even though the snow was getting much nicer. Wet weather was on the way, so we called it good and finished up a little after 2:00.

Snowshoe 12/27  Salmon La Sac

 

We had a nice holiday week trip to the snowy forests around Salmon La Sac, north of Roslyn. Nice conditions with about 2 feet of snow on the ground, snow-laden trees, and partly sunny skies. After escaping the snow machines near the trailhead, we had a peaceful tour with almost no other people out there. We climbed a long steady hill to a great viewpoint of the valley, and also checked out the Cooper River Canyon. We covered around 3 miles during our 4 hours out on the snow. Sorry for the funky picture quality--think I got some moisture in the camera. 

Snowshoe 12/22  Smith Brook Valley (alternate for Hurricane Ridge)

 

When life hands you lemons (government shutdown meant no access to Hurricane Ridge), you have to make lemonade (head up to the snow at Smith Brook). My compliments to a fun group of 10 folks who, though disappointed not to go to Hurricane Ridge, went happily along with my back-up plan and enjoyed a beautiful tour through the snow-blanketed forest just off Highway 2 east of Stevens Pass. We meandered over the creek and through the trees, finding a nice slice of quiet peacefulness and escaping the noise and pollution of the world nearby.  

Walk 12/20  Seward Park

 

Once again, the wild winter weather tested our resolve, and made sure we had plenty of adventure, even on a casual walk around a Seattle city park. This was the second consecutive walk on a high wind warning day. so we had to be fairly cautious. Fortunately the worst winds struck elsewhere, but we still had some gusts in the 30 mph range as we did our 2.5 mile loop around the park.  

A bunch of cute coots on Lake WA
Snowshoe 12/16  Lanham Lake

 

Snow is really starting to pile up now in the mountains, and the snowshoe conditions are getting better and better every week. For the tour to Lanham Lake, we started at Stevens Pass Nordic Center and followed a well-beaten snowshoe track steadily up for 1.6 miles to the lake at over 4100 feet elevation. There's over 4 feet of snow on the ground up there, and a beautiful blanket of white on the trees. Our group make the first tracks of the day in the fresh snow all the way up and around the lake. The layering in the un-tracked snow is still fairly weak though, as a couple of us found out when we dunked our feet into the outlet stream at the lake!

Hike 12/15  Silent Swamp Loop

 

We got to see Tiger Woods on Saturday! No, not the golfer guy--we were hiking through the woods on Tiger Mountain. The Silent Swamp Loop is a nearly 9-mile route that connects several trails on the southeastern portion of Tiger Mountain, accessed from Highway 18 at Tiger Mountain Summit. We only got to about the 2000-foot elevation, so we had no snow, and surprisingly little wet or muddy trail to deal with. Since this is a well-used area for mountain bikers, most trails were very gently-graded, fairly smooth and pleasant to hike. A few sections passed through open areas that had been recently logged, giving us nice views toward Mt. Si, Rattlesnake Mountain, and even Mts. Index, Pilchuck, and Glacier Peak.

Walk 12/11  Whatcom Falls and Lake Whatcom

 

Heavy rains and high winds weren't enough to deter 12 folks from coming out for a midweek walk as we headed to a couple of pretty spots in Bellingham. We braved the mid-December storm conditions, and were rewarded with invigorating walks alongside a cascading creek in the middle of the city, and a large wind-tossed lake at the eastern edge of town. Fortunately the wind gusts remained in the safe range, and the raingear did its job, so we were able to log about 4 miles for our efforts. 

Snowshoe 12/8  Grace Lakes

 

For the second time in two weeks, I headed to Stevens Pass with an enthusiastic group of snowshoers for a little fun in the white stuff. The 1 to 2 foot snow pack was ample for our needs, even though the ski area wasn't able to operate due to some thin conditions on their slopes. We started near the Stevens ski lodge, snowshoeing toward the forested area west of the ski runs. Once there, we had some nice trails virtually to ourselves. Some nice powder conditions off of the established trails made for especially enjoyable touring. We visited the two lower Grace Lakes, reaching an elevation of around 4600 feet before returning to the pass. 

Hike 12/2  Heart Lake and Sugarloaf

 

We headed to the wonderful Anacortes Community Forest Lands for a day of hiking the trails just south of the city. Heart Lake is a nice wooded lake with a good trail system surrounding it, and adjoining trails make it possible to connect to the vista point found on Sugarloaf, a 1027-foot hilltop that looks out over much of Fidalgo Island. We were able to make a nearly 5-mile circuit, got some good exercise, stayed dry, and even did a few minutes of "sun-bathing" atop Sugarloaf .

Snowshoe 12/1  Skyline Lake & Ridge

 

We got the snowshoeing season off to a great start Saturday with a delightful tour to the Skyline Lake area above Stevens Pass. Although the ski area was not yet in operation, there was about a foot or so of snow at the pass, and about 2 or 3 times that at the upper elevations--plenty of the white stuff for us to frolic in. We spent much of the day venturing through untracked terrain on nice soft powder, already deep enough to cover most of the obstacles (small trees and brush). Visibility and sunshine were limited, but the snow was falling softly, the winds were light, and the setting was pure winter wonderland. We covered about 3 miles, 1300 feet of elevation gain for the day.

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