Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Kachess Dam Road

I had hoped to try for a Home Court peak closer to home but the weather didn't look inspiring. I thought I would have a better chance heading further East. I met LiketoThruHike at Preston and we were off. Going up the pass the snow wasn't the issue but rather freezing rain. The road was in descent shape and soon we found ourselves in Easton. After sliding through the off ramp stop sign due to my lack of paying attention, I turned toward Kachess Dam Road. I was unsure if the road was plowed and as we went past Silver Creek Road there was a plow working. Since there are some homes on the Kachess Dam Road I thought there was a good chance they would plow that next. As I turned onto the KDR the snow was MUCH deeper than expected. There was recent travel leaving ruts but the center portion was putting the Subaru clearance to the test. I was sure it was deeper than my clearance would allow but the snow was so light that the bumper just skimmed it off the top and threw it on the windshield. I remembered the acess to the Silver Creek Road had been re-routed from the power line approach that I had used on my last trip. The ruts abrubltly changed direction down to the lake and there were none going any further. I turned around a parked. I thankfully always carry a snow shovel so I was able to clear out a space allowing an easy exit, or so I thought. The snow was the lightest I have ever seen it was deep but it was almost like walking without snow at all. Thankfully I had loaded the trail head on a previous trip and I noticed that we had passed the turnoff. I had rembered the road as being signed on my last vist. Since we were already geared up we decided to just walk to the trailhead and not risk getting the car stuck trying to park.

LTTH decided on putting snowshoes on from the beginning while I stayed in boots. I had planned on using the ridge directly to approach the beacon but when I saw that the Southern exposure had melted out the seasons earlier snow and what was remaining was surely the least consolidated snow possible. The Silver Creek Trail approach seemed like a better alternative. The trail was suprisingly easy to follow and was steeper than I remembered. Thankfully I was able to get a internet signal on my phone and I was able to read a report from Joey regarding the jump off point for the scramble trail to the beacon. I left the trail where he said the trail was. I was unable to see any sign of a trail but just merely headed up. There was defineltly not much bonding between the very crusty old snow layer and the light new layer. I stayed in the trees until reaching a spur ridge that we rode higher until reaching a more defined ridge. The going was mostly open and a very pleasant ascent. Soon I crested a small false summit and was surprised to not see any tower. I continued on until the tower came into view. The last portion had the deepest snow of the day and really got the heart going. I ducked out of the wind and snow and waited for LTTH who arrived soon after. We had a quick snack and I started to get cold so we beat a hasty retreat. The descent went very quickly and was quite fun sliding on the crusty old layer. Soon we were pack for the long road walk back to the car. Just as I rounded the last corner I was dismayed to see a tree had fallen narrowly missing the car. The branches were not actually touching the car but there wasn't enough room to walk in front of the car. The tree was much to big to move WTF..... what the hell are we going to do now? I was able to take the snow shovel and sheer off the branches far enough up the tree to give me some hope. We then dug as much snow out from under the tree and gave my self a landing area past the tree. I was able to have LTTH stand on the tree as I punched it and made it over without issue. Getting back into the ruts took some inspired driving but I made it and parked. Now it was time to see if we could make it back to I-90. Besides having to dodge some snowmobilers who were parked in the middle of the road and wouldn't move we had no issues. Snoqualmie Pass was challenging to cross but I took it slow and had no issues. I still can't believe a random tree would fall so close to the car without any wind and the lightest snow possible. I couldn't help but think the tree had been cut down on purpose we both looked and didn't see any tracks going into the woods. I would highly recommend this route provided you can drive close enough to the trailhead.

Approx 8 miles 2500' of climb 4:30 car to car

Sorry no pictures the camera crapped out on me

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