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Trip Report    

Beginner Snowshoe - Grace Lakes

A great early season snowshoe trip with fluffy snow!

  • Snow and ice on road
  • The snow depth was adequate but there were still viewable patches of uncovered or barely covered water up at the lakes.

On the way there: It was an eventful morning trying to get to Stevens Pass. Eight of us met at the Brickyard Park & Ride at 7:45 AM and consolidated into two vehicles. The traffic dramatically slowed down before reaching Monroe, and when we arrived, we saw that several blocks of Monroe were without power including a series of traffic lights (and all the surrounding businesses). After passing Monroe, the traffic picked up again but only for a few minutes before it went back to a crawl. I checked the WSDOT website to see that there had been  an accident in Skykomish that had all lanes blocked. 

Naturally, I was surprised that the accident in Skykomish was backed up all the way to just east of Monroe. It turned out that the other vehicle in the party (in front of us by about 5 minutes) passed a serious accident on Hwy 2 in Sultan just moments after it happened. The traffic behind stopped almost immediately while several emergency vehicles rushed to the scene. Our vehicle was caught in standstill traffic with zero traffic heading westbound. Seeing that the two vehicles in the party were on opposite sides of this major accident, and that our vehicle (the rear one) was not moving, and knowing that we would hit another accident in Skykomish, I turned around and drove back to find a rendezvous point in Monroe (Starbuck's, let's say) and to wait for the other vehicle to find its way to us. Of course, upon returning to Monroe, we remembered that all the businesses were out of power (and thus not open to customers).

While we were trying to figure out what to do, the WSDOT alert for the Skykomish collision lifted and we decided to keep going to Stevens Pass. Our vehicle took Old Owen Road and bypassed the accident in Sultan. On the other side of Sultan, the vehicles could keep heading east.

We arrived at Stevens Pass about an hour later than planned. There was still parking available at the ski area but not in the upper lots. We parked in the lowest lot and walked up to the "trailhead" at Parking Lot 4.

The trip: It was a beautiful day with a long stretch of dry weather bookended with snowfall. Most of the trip participants were new or mostly new to snowshoeing so we took our time, discussed some travel and winter skills along the way, and had a great time playing in the snow.

There was no Cat hadn't been along the  track in some time, so it was fresh snow starting from just above the lodges.  There were some ski tracks up to the lakes but no snowshoe tracks, and we broke much of the trail. The snow was mostly fluffy and fun to travel through. GREAT snow to fall and plunge-step in. The snow on hilltops was a bit crustier from the wind but not too icy at all.

It was a fairly cold day - around the 20 degree mark. With our up- and down-hill travel, we did about 1,000 ft of elevation gain.

The drive back: We started back to Seattle around 3 PM. Several vehicles were parked on the eastbound side of the road near the pass, putting on their chains. The road was pretty icy and drivers were slow and careful. Hwy 2 had its typical winter afternoon traffic pattern. It took over 30 minutes to get through Sultan but once we passed the lights, it opened up again and slowed only a bit through Monroe. Once on 522, the traffic moved pretty normally.

What a fun group of folks to travel with! Everyone had positive and flexible attitudes, even with the series of unexpected delays. All in all, a great day!