A meetup event with last minute change of plans due to crowded Stevens pass forced us to park at Nordic center and snowshoe to Lanham lake instead of the original plan of Skyline Lake. It was insanely crowded and I was surprised to see the number of cars waiting to blanket the parking lots. Even though we reached around 9:15 AM, we couldn’t find a spot at the ski resort and at the next lot too. I wasn’t expecting much due to the forecast, but the clouds were over the mountains and we had nice views. The frozen lake nestled between snow covered trees with tall mountains in the background and Sun peeping occasionally from the clouds. I wore my new Cortez down and hard shell jacket which kept me warm throughout and I cherished the bright blue color on me. The organizer had bought Green tea and shared with everyone. I played around walking on the frozen lake and pushed a bit by inching more towards the middle. It was an easy short snowshoe but still a rewarding outing.
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After being frequently bombarded by Franklin falls pics on the WH&C group, I decided to visit it this winter. The forecast was perfect for any kind of hiking for the last day of the year and I decided to visit the falls even if it was only by myself. Fortunately, two other hiker friends – Gaurav and Priya joined me and we started for the trailhead at 7:35 AM. The sun rays were just kissing the peaks around I-90 and the orangish hue and the snow looked stunning. The road to the trailhead was closed which added an extra 5 miles to make a total of 7.2 miles roundtrip. It was still very cold, we layered up and started our hike. The first 2.5 miles was on a relative flat wide road and then the last 1 mile had a bit of an elevation. It was an usual partial snow covered winter route along a creek. We didn’t wear micro-spikes until the very end where we had to descend to the falls. I tried for a distance without it but after barely avoiding a fall, I decided to put them on. The main waterfall was cascading in liquid form but water around it was frozen in pointy ice formations which adorned the waterfalls to give a majestic look. Compared to the cars at the trailhead, there were relatively less crowd at the falls, so we had all the time to enjoy the place and click pics. It was quite cold near the base of the waterfalls and my fingers started to pain slightly. We left the place after having our share and made a quick return to the trailhead in the Sun. As soon as we took the exit to enter I-90 we were presented with shiny mountains in the broad daylight. The unusual winter Sunny day gave us one of the best holiday present and I thoroughly enjoyed it. After seeing the Olympic mountains in the west, I craved for more and Gaurav then took us to a Microsoft cafeteria which had unparalleled views of entire Greater Seattle area, mountains from North Cascades, Mountain loop highway, I-90 peaks, Mt Baker, Mt Rainier and Olympics. The views from the cafeteria matched those from the visitor centers in the National Parks. I was surprised at every glimpse I took as Gaurav walked us along the glass windows. All in all, we made the best we could on the last day of the year.
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I almost didn’t get up since alarm was on vibrate mode. I woke up at 6, got ready in 20 mins and left my home. A meetup hike with Jim again and I have started to like his hikes and the group. It was a snow drive again and I felt the snow in between was scraping my car’s belly. We were split across 5 cars and mine had the lowest clearance. I realized even Crosstrek’s clearance was not very good enough for the winters here. We started the hike at 9 AM and the first 2 miles was a walk on the washed out road. Then the switchbacks started and it was steep for the next 2 miles. The long distance, snow-shoes weight, previous day’s snow hike and less sleep was all taking a toll on me and my back hurt a lot. The views on the ridge were soothing and the winter wonderland was at its prime with various shapes of snow. We then dropped around 500 feet to the lake. I wasn’t expecting such green lake and it looked vibrant with all the black and white around. We had fun and lunch facing the lake and started our return hike at 1 PM. It started raining slightly by 3 PM and by 4 it had picked up. It was 11.9 mile hike and I was just glad to have completed it. I neither wore snowshoes nor microspikes, my new Quechua boots was excellent in blocking the cold and water but it has a hard sole. So I might get a soft layer below my feet. We all were done with the hike by 5 and started our drive back to Seattle. I was glad with the rain since it washed my car quiet neatly.
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Sai and I decided to hike Beckler Peak on a Saturday. Since, I knew road conditions were tricky, we drove in my car instead of his sedan. Till about 1.7 miles from the trailhead, there was snow on the road and it was still an ok drive. Then we saw a car(BMW SUV) parked on the side after which there were no tire marks on the road. Also at this moment, I had a short slide on the road towards the mountain on the left. I wanted to try reaching the trailhead in the car itself, so continued driving. I was slow and the drive was not that bad. It was sunny and the temperatures warm enough to be comfortable in just my sweat shirt. We left our snowshoes in the car and started hiking around 10 AM. The weather was near perfect conditions for winter hike – clear sky, Sun’s rays melting the snow into shiny droplets and piercing through the trees and almost non existent wind. Enjoying the ambience, we slowly hiked up, sometimes with knee length snow. There were 3 ahead of us and fortunately for us, they had broken the trail for us. There was a view point with a decent 180 deg views and since the summit had near 360 deg views, I was excited to reach the top. We reached a forest where the trail passed between huge trees with snow on them. Due to the warmth, snow melted and kept falling on the ground. They made such a sound that I had initially thought they were gun shots. Trail was bit wider so there was less chance of falling directly on our head, but still I experienced some sprays and Sai took a shot on his shoulder. My microspikes kept getting stuck on the snow, so I just hiked without them and couple of times Sai found them lying on the trail. All three who were ahead of us turned back without making it to the summit and we decided to do the same due to the interest of time and difficulty of unbroken trail. We went back to a view point and spent ample time enjoying the snow, clouds and surrounding mountains while having our lunch. I had qualms about return journey on the car in the last 1.7 miles, but there were many people on the trail by afternoon with their cars. We had a quick descent and reached Skykomish for a quick snack where we had Hot cocoa and a sandwich. Weather was a pleasant surprise and we had a good day out.
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It was raining in the morning which turned to snow en-route the meetup location. We drove to Steven’s pass and snow was accumulated on the road just before the pass. This was the first time I drove my car on snow and I was excited. As soon as we reached the parking lot, the organizer started testing his car on snow and I followed the same. It was fun to run my Crosstrek through the snow. Given the snowfall and weather, we changed the hike to climb the mountain instead of Lake Valhalla. There was fresh powder all around and it was beautiful to walk through it. We reached one of the top of ski lifts, had lunch and got back. It was short and quick hike but a sweet one. I knew many people on the hike and it was like a nice get together. The fall colors were on display while driving back and the mist and snow added more beauty to it.
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