|from April 18, 2005:|
Silver Creek, Wenatchee National Forest, Washington, April 3, 2005
(Click any of the photos to view large versions)
Silver Creek trail
across Silver Creek
Douglas fir trunk and snow
Ski tracks through
Lower Silver Creek meadows
A doorway to more meadows
Silver Creek Pinnacle
Ski tracks in foggy meadows
West Peak from
Silver Creek meadows
Photos by Charles Eldridge
|Backcountry ski touring trip report:|
April 3, 2005, Silver Creek, Wenatchee National Forest, Washington
All the snow of the past week suggested that, finally, a Snoqualmie area forest ski tour might actually be reasonable. Matt woke up sick, but this is a good solo tour, so I went ahead with it. There was no snow on the road to the trailhead (2400 ft), and just a couple of thin patches on the Silver Creek trail at first. The snow became continuous and skinable near 3000 ft, all from the last week, but I had to stick to the trail because it was not very deep (4-6"). Once to the lip of the hanging valley (3600 ft), there was more snow but still all from the last week: up to 12" in glades, and 4-6" of tree-drip compacted elsewhere. I kept skins on for a little while because the tree-drip snow was refrozen, but then removed them and started fishscaling, which was a little tricky under the densest trees but allowed for nice glides. There was still not enough snow to stray from the trail, and this led to an interesting thrash when the trail crossed to the other side Silver Creek, without any easy way to cross. It is definitely more enjoyable, not to mention efficient, to ski through the woods when there is ample snowpack. Lots of animal tracks, including dog (coyote?), and a bunny in white garb bounded across my path at one point.
When the trail re-crossed back to my side farther up the valley, I took quick snack break and considered whether it was worth continuing. Since the trail was now about to gain some elevation, I decided to go a little farther and see if the traveling got better. It did! The snowpack quickly deepened and made it possible to leave the trail, and there came to be a thin layer of new snow over the tree-drip that let my waxless skis grip well. When I reached the beginning of the meadows at valley's end, it felt like a normal winter - great, go-anywhere coverage, and trees laden with recent snow. The snow in the meadows (4800 ft) consisted of about 6" of dense, moist snow over a firmer layer, then a thick layer of dense and moist snow (didn't dig a pit and didn't look too closely). Skiing around the meadows my skis would usually stay in the top 6" of snow, making for some fine kick-and-glide, especially after the first track had been set. I skied around the meadows for a while, exploring little nooks and crannies which I'd never bothered to look into, reusing my tracks and generally just having a nice time in the winter wonderland. Although it had been snowing lightly, filtered sun came through the clouds at times, warming things up and providing some nice light on the otherwise foggy grey day. I started back down at 3:15, gliding down my up track though the meadows.
The gliding continued as the valley dropped down from the meadows, in and out of my uptrack, with a few turns here and there - very enjoyable. The tree-drip snow had softened nicely, but now there was active tree drip and it began to seem as if it was raining. By the time I got to the thrash section, I was "moist", and by the time I was through the thrash I was completely soaked, mainly from the water-laden foliage which I had had to push through. I was able to ski about 100 ft down the trail from the lip of the hanging valley before the coverage became too thin, then it was just a hike back to the car.