Kelcema Lake (Mar 10, 2019)

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kelcema_lk_coverConditions: Snowshoe
Gear: Snowshoes
Map: USGS Silverton
Area: Mtn Loop Hwy
Reference: Snowshoe Routes Washington
Stats: 9.56mi, 1618' gain (round trip)
Weather Forecast

I was sick for the longest time and struggled to get rid of a bad cough. Finally...I was feeling better and the weather looked good. Time to get out for a hike! I didn't want to drive far and certainly didn't want to do a massive trip so I settled on Kelcema Lake off Mtn Loop Hwy.

I parked at the SnoPark area where the plowing ends and the road is gated. The great news is that there is a lot of lowland snow this year. So many of the recent years there has been little or nothing along the highway. I was amazed at the dingleberries the parked inside the trailer turnaround area right behind the sign that says "No Parking Behind This Sign". Seriously??? Park a few feet further down the road...your out for a hike for goodness sake...don't park in an area that the trailers need to turn around!

The start (elev 1591') of the snow covered road (NF-4052...not marked) hike up was compact snow and ice. Really slick. There was one SUV stuck in the deep snow at the parking area right at the start. There was another stuck truck with tired buried deep in the snow a bit further up where the road is gated.

There was a good trench stomped into the road which made the going a lot easier. The road gains elevation pretty steady but no stretch is ever really steep. There were a couple of minor spur roads off to the right and about 1mi (1980') NF-4054 heads off on the right.

The road has good tree cover so much of the hike up with shaded which was actually kinds nice. At about 1.3mi (2020') I reached a clearing in the trees and I got my first view of some snow covered peaks off to my left. I continued up and at about 2.15mi (2320') I reached a snow covered slide that took out the road. After I got home I was able to check trip reports on WTA and it looks like this slide happened sometime between August 2015 and late November 2015. There were several more smaller slides after this big one. So going on 4 years since the slide took out the road I gotta wonder if they will ever fix it.

Continuing uphill the road crosses Deer Creek the first time at about 3mi (2610'), hits the sharp turn in the road at 3.45mi (2820'), and then re-crosses Deer Creek at 4.15mi (3090'). Right after crossing Deer Creek the second time I reached what looked like a large snow covered parking area (I bet this was heavily used before the road slid) and I saw a snowshoe track heading off to my right which followed Deer Creek to the lake. From the road, the lake is only about 1/2 mile further (4.65mi, 3195').

I reached the lake and found I had it to myself! Perfect!!! I dropped my pack and enjoyed a nice lunch before heading back down. The trip back down I only say 7 people...pretty darned quiet for an easy trail off a busy winter recreation road.
Kelcema Lake Slideshow

(click on map to view a larger version)

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Copyright Janet M. Putz
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