Rachel Lake & Rampart Ridge (Jul 4, 2014)

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rampart_ridge_coverConditions: day hike
Gear: nothing special
Map: USGS Snoqualmie Pass
Area: Snoqualmie Pass
Reference: Day Hiking Snoqualmie Pass
Stats: 10.08mi, 2607' gain (round trip)

Five day weekend ahead. Time to get moving and get caught up on some mileage and elevation gain :)

Dani and I were trying to figure out a good trip. Something close in so not a lot of driving. I suggested Alta Mtn and she was game.

We drove west (I90 > exit 62 > drive north on Kachess Lk Rd > turn left at the "T" > then another 4mi to the trailhead at the end of the road). There were a few cars already in the parking lot and it was already a bit warm. Dani signed in at the trailhead register (2774') and we started up the trail. After the first couple of short switchbacks the trail settles into a nice flat 3 mile hike up Box Canyon. It was warm and I know I was glad for the shade of the trees. About 3 miles in the trail starts steeply uphill but right before this climb there are a couple of minor creek crossings. The first one we decided to take off our boots/shoes and wade across (on the way out we carefully walked the logs/rocks). The second was easy enough to walk through (water wasn't high enough to top the boots).

After the stream crossings it was time to head uphill. Honestly, each time I head in here the trail gets worse. I don't know how it's possible but it does. There are long stretches of water running down the trail. mud holes, a trail that more closely resembles a rocky creek bed, and oh...the roots...long stretches of steep trail with exposed roots and rocks.

At about 4.25mi from the trailhead (4330') the trail crosses at the base of a nice waterfall which was cranked up pretty high from the snow melt. Up to this point we had not seen any snow on the trail. Just above this though and on to the lake some patchy snow started to appear. Nothing deep or sustained and finding the trail popping out the other side of the snow wasn't any trouble. We made it to the lake about 11:45am (4.68mi, 4668') and stopped for a quick snack. Both of us were a bit surprised by the amount of snow still around the lake. The lake is completely melted out but there is still quite a bit of snow on the ground in areas protected by trees. I'd checked trip reports for the area prior to our hike and I hadn't seen mention of this. I'd been to this area twice in previous years at about the same time and on both of those trips there was no snow at all either at the lake or higher up on Rampart Ridge.

After our break Dani and I headed around the east side of the lake. The trail was pretty consistently hidden under large stretches of deep snow (2-3'). We did find the lower end of the trail as it heads up Rampart Ridge and we hit snow patches on and off the whole way up the ridge. Nothing too long or too steep. Just more snow that expected. Close to the ridge top, near the junction with the Rampart Ridge trail the snow was nearly everywhere...and lots of it...4-6'. I was really surprised. The late season snow really hit this area. My guess is that it will be another 4-6 weeks before this area is completely melted out.

Dani and I had talked about heading over to Alta but we needed to be back in town kind of early so we decided on other plans knowing that travelling on snow would slow us down. We'd also talked about heading over to Rampart Lakes but given that those are on the north side of the ridge we knew the area would likely be still under snow. So...we found a nice little rock outcrop that gave us nice views down to Rachel Lake and far off views over to Hibox and that's where we decided to have lunch (5.27mi, 5036').

On he way down we stopped to look over at the ridge over to Alta Mtn. There was still the remnants of an old cornice on the ridge. About half way over to the Alta Mtn highpoint the ridge does come out of the trees so it's likely stretches of trail will be melted out but I'd guess that for at least .7mi of trail after the junction with the trail coming up from Rachel Lake that there is still a significant amount of snow over the trail. Trip down was pretty uneventful other than my thinking that that trips out are always longer than trips in.
Rampart Ridge Slideshow

(click on map to view a larger version)

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