Hamada Lk & Murphy Lks (Jan 10, 2016)

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murphy_lks_coverConditions: Day hike/snowshoe
Gear: snowshoes
Map: USGS Scenic
Area: Scenic, WA
Reference: n/a
Stats: 7.48mi, 2483' gain (round trip)

Finally...finally...finally there is snow! I'm pretty sure I carried my snowshoe on my back last year than I wore than on my feet. So finally back in town after a long holiday visit back east I was ready to see some snow. I knew Steve was in. I asked SteveF and DebF and they were interested too. I had an idea of a trip off I90 but SteveF suggested either Smithbrook Rd and Mt McCausland or Murphy Lks out of Scenic. I'd never been to Murphy Lks so that was what we settled on.

There is no summer trail to the lake. I've read some accounts of a quickly fading fisherman's trail to the lakes. Regardless, there was plenty of snow so our route would be to follow Scenic Creek all the way up using the path that seemed easiest (least steep and brushy).

We drove to Scenic and parked at the large parking area at the Surprise Lk TH (2232', about 8:30am). While in the summertime there is a trail to Surprise Lk and beyond, there is no trail to Hamada and Murphy Lks. SteveF had been up to the lakes before so he led the way. We stayed fairly close to Scenic Creek and followed it on the east side up to about 2900' at which point the east side of the creek got steeper and it seemed easiest to find a crossing over the creek to the other side. We found a good spot, crossed and again stayed close to the creek as we continued on up. The grade is moderately steep and pretty much doesn't give up. There is a short (about 300') section just below Hamada Lk where it does get steeper but even then, it wasn't too bad. We reached Hamada Lk about 11:30am and stopped for a short food break (3.4mi, 4271'). The sun was starting to come out and we were hoping it would shine some of it's warm rays on us. The lake of course was completely snow covered.

We decided to continue on to Murphy Lks and we stayed close to the east side (climber's left) of the creek connecting the two lakes. There was one spot of open snow, a section of maybe 150', where the snow got a bit sugary and we all just took car to make sure we set out steps in firmly. The part of the trip between the two lakes was probably the windiest part of the day but it did tell us our decision to not head up to the pass was proably a good one. We slightly overshot the outlet to the lake and ended up having to drop about 40' down the the edge of the snow covered lower Murphy Lk (3.9mi, 4638'). We stopped at the lake for a proper lunch, snapped a few photos and the decided that even though the uppper lake was only about another 1/4mi and 150' above us, all lakes look alike in the winter. So, we decided to head back down.

Instead of following our up steps back down the Hamada Lk we decided to stay closer to the creek trying to avoid the one more difficult section of steep soft snow. It worked well, and quickly found ourselves back down at Hamada Lk.

For the trip back down to the car we decided to stay on the west side of Scenic Creek the whole way. It worked out pretty well. There is a waterfall just above the parking area and when we reached the area just above this (the open powerline section) we followed the clearing of the powerlines and dropped back down towards the road. Just before reaching the road Steve realized he'd dropped his phone! The two Steve's headed back uphill a short way to where Steve was certain he's dropped it while Deb and I headed back to the car. We were back to the car about 4pm. And yes...Steve did find and retrieve his phone :)

Trip is for the most part in the trees but there are some open slops our route either crossed or gets near to. We did check the avy forecast and planned accordingly.
Hamada Lk & Murphy Lks Slideshow

(click on map to view a larger version)

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