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Snoqualmie Nordic – Opening Weekend

Cold, clear evenings and plenty of snow made for fast and smooth conditions, both at the Snoqualmie Nordic center and for downhill runs at Silver Fir. After two powder weekends in a row it was good to break out the good form, cruise, and get some exercise.

Here are some shots from the Rockdale Lake area of the Nordic Center. Hidden Valley loop is open and in very nice shape but the Mount Catherine loop isn’t open yet.


Silver Peak and Mount Catherine

On this cloudy day, I set out to get my blood pumping with a mountain run (or two). I saw Silver Peak as a good candidate for views and easy access on Summitpost, and noted that the short Mount Catherine trail is nearby. They’re both located near the Hyak ski area off of FR 9070 in the Snoqualmie National Forest.

About 4.5 miles in, I came to four or five vehicles parked by the side of the road and a trail. I parked here and started following the trail, but got pretty confused – it was gaining elevation much faster than I had anticipated for Silver Peak, and heading in the wrong direction. A quick check of my GPS app revealed I was actually climbing Mount Catherine instead. No matter, I pushed ahead and summited the 5052′ peak anyway. At only 1.5 miles one way, it took me just 23 minutes from car to summit at my decidedly lackadaisical trail “running” speed (more like a power walk given the steepness) for around 1200 feet of elevation gain. This is a good peak for those lacking the endurance for a more stout vertical gain like Mt. Si. And the views are actually pretty outstanding. GPS log here

Mt. Catherine summit

After a quick descent, I moved my car another 1/4 mile down the road and found the Pacific Crest trailhead at Windy Pass. This is what I had originally been looking for. I headed in the direction of Stampede Pass on the PCT. GPS track here

Windy Pass

The trail is just beautiful, winding through conifer groves, talus slopes, and numerous creeks, although the surface is quite muddy right now. At exactly Mile 1.7 the turnoff to Silver Peak via an unofficial but fairly clear trail goes to the right, splitting off from the PCT at a spot marked with visible cairns. After gaining several hundred more feet, I reached a saddle between Silver Peak and its neighbor to the south, Tinkham Peak and headed to the right. Continue reading Silver Peak and Mount Catherine