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Trip Report    

Basic Snowshoe - Commonwealth Basin

A Friday morning exploration of the basin area. We took some time at the big trees, gushed over the vistas when the sun appeared, noted the effects of the recent rain on the snow pack, we walked off trail to the accompaniment of live music - a fun small group outing that was my first mentored lead on a snowshoe trip.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • The old commonwealth basin trail was moderately well packed with about 1-2 inches of new snow from overnight. The snow was wet & had stuck to the trees, branches & folliage well  - making for a beautiful wintry sight despite the moderate fog (visibility about 100ft). There was plenty of evidence of small glide cracks on small snowy mounds & small snow collapses near the water's edge> 

    We didn't head out to get close to the main commonwealth creek falls, due to  snow/gully collapses & there was a collective discussion for this potential diversion.  The noise of the rushing water from the recent rains was quite impressive.

    After lunch when we wandered off trail on the flats the  snow had a firm upper crust with plenty of soft stuff underneath. The basin didn't get much direct sun - the temps were around 31F for much of the trip. 

We had plenty of parking options at 8.45am on  Friday - parking across from the snoqualmie pass visitors center (forest service).  The fog was widespread.  We put our snowshoes on at the start of the trail & there was a 1-2 inch on new snow on a firm crust.  The trees were well outlined in this new wet dusting (really beautiful, despite the minimal vista's).  We were not the first up into the basin - prior tracks along the old commonwealth basin trail were easily followed.  We were passed by quite a number of back country skiers on our way up - smoothing the trail/path out even more.  We lingered at the first really large western hemlock (we took group pics, postulated on age, took bets on size). We took our first diversion to glimpse the fall & due the widespread deep cracks in the snow the group collectively agreed to not advance closer to the falls - they were gushing from the recent rainfall.  We continued on and the sun started to poke through the fog - we all gushed at the basin vistas once we reached the first views we had of Guye Peak (when we were at the first log bridge - which looked precarious for crossing) - so we proceeded onto the second bridge and crossed commonwealth creek to explore up the basin to it's upper end - where we stopped next to the creek for an early lunch (around 11.15am).  We returned back & explored off trail with participants breaking trail in the crusty deep snow while collectively discussing observed conditions & route options to rejoin at the bridge & retrace our steps down.  One of the participants brought a small recorder (maybe a piccolo) & we were serenaded with a wide variety of magical tunes as we left our lunch spot and descended from the valley.  

We were back at the trail head likely  around 1.15pm & back at our cars debriefing before 1.30pm.  It was fun day with a delightful group - I learnt a lot, planning & leading this group. I was blessed to have such an great Mentor (Pat).  I'm excited to now move onto my next mentored basic trip lead.