Kachess Ridge

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Savoring that last bit of snow

Another blog post?! So soon? I told you guys, I’m getting back on track. And I was bored. This one’s a shorty, but it counts. With trips planned this weekend and next weekend, I’m on a quest for blog content. And hopefully this means we’ve turned a corner, and the hikes will start to flow. I’m seasonal, you know? Seasonally in shape (summer), seasonally introspective (winter), seasonally good looking (summer), seasonally good at cooking (winter), seasonally into country music (summer), seasonally whiny (winter ok always).
  • Distance: ~9 miles round trip
  • Elevation: 2200ft gain
  • Weather: Snow, hail, rain, and sun, maybe high 40’s?
  • Commute from Seattle: 1:20
  • Did I Trip: No!
Well, I had a few hours free on Sunday, and after getting a late start (getting up at 7 is late), I met Sam at the Kachess Ridge trailhead. He beat me there by about a half hour, maybe more, I don’t want to know because I can’t believe he waited. He sent me a picture of sunny blue skies while I was driving through torrential downpour at Snoqualmie Pass, so I knew there was hope out on the east side.

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On second thought, maybe the road is not driveable

I found the Kachess Ridge trailhead (well, the road that leads to the trailhead), and we made it maybe 500 yards past the “road closed” sign before I chickened out. I was just keeping the road in good shape for snowmobiles by not driving it, duh. We packed up our stuff and started walking. Sam brought his cheap snowboard, I left my skiis in the car because I’m a noob and didn’t think I’d be good enough at avoiding rocks.

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Blue skies, baby!

We savored the sunshine as we hiked along the road. After ~.8 miles, you turn right onto an unmarked road, which will take you another .6 or so miles. Soon enough we were at the trailhead, right where there’s a sharp hairpin switchbck turn in the road. We took off into the woods, and as the trail gained elevation, the south-facing slope meant most of the snow had melted. We did hit snow quite abruptly around 3800ft, and the trail disappeared. We headed straight for the ridge, kicking steps in the snow.

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Gaining the ridge

We stopped on the shoulder of the ridge to snap a few pictures. I swear we had the only patch of blue sky in the area. And even then, we were randomly spit on by rain, hail, and snow, alternating with sun. And no rainbows, which is bullshit. If it’s gonna rain and be sunny, I want a rainbow. Add it to my list of grievances, mother nature. At least here I don’t have to shrink wrap all my windows in winter like I did in Chicago, I guess.

We stayed in the trees along the ridge until the very top, negotiating a few baby cornices. Snow was pretty consolidated and kicking steps was easy. For me. Sam had overdone leg day the day before, so he was having a harder time. He was also carrying a $20 snowboard, which, being $20, I can only imagine weighed twice the weight of a desirable snowboard. But the good part about having a crappy board is you have no fear of scraping it over rocks.

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The tower! I think there’s a small shack beneath it. Buried in snow.

I wanted to get to the radio tower because I like destination hikes, so I dragged Sam up the last few hundred yards and climbed up the tower to see what I could see, which was i90 and a bunch of clouds. Bummer man. OH shit, my tea is still in my pack. That’s disgusting. I’m disgusting. I’ll go clean that right now. Hold please.

Okay, nothing freaky grew in my thermos. Cool. Anyway, climbed up the radio tower, not much to see, so we headed back down (I did not stop to drink my tea). Sam strapped on his board, I did the slow-powder jog so I wouldn’t get too far behind. I was hoping to get some sweet pictures of him but with all the trees it was tough. We’ll save it for a better trip.

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“Oops”

Sam did trigger a few sluffs, which are… like baby avalanches. The top few inches of snow creating a mini slide. It’s pretty nuts watching sluffs happen and imagining the exact same thing but several feet deep. Scary stuff. Sluffs can be good news if it’s just a layer of fresh snow that goes without triggering a deeper slab, but we weren’t about to wait around and find out, and it’s not like there was that much to snowboard anyway.

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Looking back on the sluff

Going down was way faster, and before we knew it we were back at the road. We ran into a man with his two sons, one of whom was a geology major and was looking for blue schist. I wonder if he found any. I’m not quite sure what it is, but according to his dad he was pretty excited about it. We got back to the cars just in time before the skies opened up, and I devoured some jerky and cheese and headed back to Seattle in time for a lazy afternoon.

I was going to say that Sam might have been the last one to ski/snowboard Kachess Ridge for the season, but we got slammed with a solid storm last night and have another one on the way this weekend, so the snow isn’t done just yet. I don’t know, skiing is chill but I’m ready for climbing season and some trail runs in the high country. Don’t skip leg day, folks. Even if it means a sufferfest the next day. It’ll pay off in the summer. And who doesn’t want sweet buns and thighs?

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Sam coming up along the ridge

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