Saturday, December 17, 2011

Commonwealth Basin

Well, it's that time of year again....break out the snowshoes.  Looking around for something that didn't require a sno park pass we found the basin.  It's easy to find.  Snoqualmie Pass (our main stomping grounds) I-90 Exit 52.  Left off the ramp, under the over pass.  We parked by the ski club as there is a wide area that is plowed back.  There is a sign that states no snow play parking anywhere on Alpental Road.  It does not look official to say the least.  We were one of the first cars there at 9 AM and we decided to risk it.  We received no ticket or warning and we were not towed. We did, however, display our NW Forest Pass. Many people parked at The Summit ski area instead.  After gearing up we walked back towards the over pass and you will see the road to the parking area for the trail on the left.  Lots of people have been there before and you will where to climb up over the snow bank.  Once up the road to the trail head it is easy to find.  We followed the Pacific Crest Trail as avalanche danger was listed as green/low.  There is one particular area that would seem a danger in anything higher.  There are still signs up directing you...making it easier as well as a path that has been blazed before you.  With no new snow falling we had no problems making our way, even though we have a green trail map.  We consulted only one time when we no longer had a clear path.  Should you wish to not follow the trail, just after the entering the trail head on the left you will find the alternate route.  It is less that .25 miles in...probably closer to .15 miles or less. We did not use our snowshoes until we lost the obvious path.  Treks were all we needed and we moved along quite quickly.  The weather was very cold and the snow was incredibly crusty.  We did have to find a tree trunk to slip across to get closer to the Red Mountain and over the creek, but someone found it before us making it obvious.  Then we met up with the alternate trail.  Found a nice spot with a small waterfall with a wonderful view of Red Mountain for lunch. On the way back we followed the alternate route.  This is where we ran into droves of people and dogs.  (seeing only 2 other hikers on the way in, this was a big difference.)  Lots of people on their skis on this trail, which is something we had not run into last year.  We had a nice clear morning and after lunch the clouds started rolling the ride home it started to rain/snow.  We had lots of luck in the perfect timing category today!  Terah brought a sled today and we started a new tradition....sliding after the hike.  Found a nice little hill to break it in...and we had a BLAST!

Terah provided an amazing lunch today!  Roast beef wrap with fresh basil and blue cheese!  Why does everything taste MORE amazing outside in the cold?  Oh cheese and crackers are our new side.  The latte and whiskey chaser will always stay with us!

Total miles:  6.5.  Following main trail in 4 miles to the Red Mountain.  By using the alternate route you cut off a lot of miles so the return trip was 1.5 miles.  Be aware that the alternate route is STEEP in many areas should you follow it up.

snow crystals

Natures bridge

Our lunch view, not bad!

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