I just read over this after typing it up and I realize how negative it sounds. I'll leave it. I'm just in that kind of mood.
Today was the first hike of the year. Did you ever have a day on the trail where you just weren't feeling it? That was me today. The weather was slated to be perfect and I've been working long hours and I just needed a break. So I decided to take a vacation day. Unfortunately, my regular hiking buddy couldn't get away. So I was going solo and I just wasn't sure I really wanted to.
As per my normal procedure, I got up way too early and hit the road while the rest of society was still in bed. Things seemed to bode well as I was going north on Hwy 9 near Snohomish. The sun was coming up in a clear sky over the mountains to the east.
I arrived at the Heather Lake trailhead, gathered my gear, and was hiking by about 6:45 in the morning. I'm not going to spend time detailing the trail because I already did so last year in this report. The short story is that it was wet below the snow line and mushy above it. I don't like traveling on spring snow, and I really don't like doing it alone. The trail was buried under the snow so I just made my way due south, keeping the creek on my right, into the lake basin. I worried a bit that I might have trouble navigating out but I pushed on. The snow started slippery so I donned my microspikes but later I fell through a bit of snow all the way to my hips. After army crawling my way out I put on my snowshoes the rest of the way to the lake. There was firmer snow in spots and mushier in others, but that's the problem this time of year, you don't know until your on it what kind of snow it is. The snow is still deep (easily 6 feet in spots), but it's melting fast and the running water creates all kinds of wells for one to fall into. I just don't like it. Best case scenario you break through and keep going. Worst case you break an ankle or get stuck. I may sound melodramatic but like I said earlier I just wasn't feeling it. The lake of course was as pretty as ever (sky was so clear the moon was visible) but my spirit was dampened by the crap snow and the lack of a clear path out (there were many sets of tracks in many directions).
Sure enough, on the way out, try as I might I got lost. A snowy forest looks the same in any direction. By the time I realized I was lost I had descended quite a ways and I wasn't in the mood to climb back up. I found a log to sit on and contemplate my situation. I believe my exact thought was "Well? Shit." I looked at my watch. It wasn't even 9 AM. Many hours until sundown. I looked at my pack. I had the 10 essentials. No worries there. I pulled out my map. All I had to do was keep descending through the forest, staying due north on the compass, keeping the creek on the correct side, and I'd hit the trail or the forest road. So down I went and it wasn't more than 15 minutes before I intersected the trail before the snow line. Crisis averted.
Since I was back at the car so early and because I had burned a vacation day, I felt I should make the most of it and give another trail a chance to bring up my mood. So I drove over to the Lake 22 trailhead. Same deal regarding a detailed trail report. It can be found in my report from last year. The Lake 22 trail was dry and very hot but cooled once I'd reached the snow. In the open stretch there were nice views of the hills to the north. Three Fingers was just barely visible over the ridge. I'm not sure what the more pronounced peak is. The snow was better on the Lake 22 trail and the path was better beaten by travelers before me. I still didn't like a lot of the soft snow in the open sun, especially when gaps under the snow were clearly visible in spots. I pressed on, however, almost all the way to the lake. Just before the lake is a creek that is crossed via a snow bridge. Unfortunately, it didn't give me much confidence in it's ability to carry load. It was pretty carved out and water was running under all of the snow from the bridge down to the bigger stream. It's in the last three pictures below. I inspected it for about 10 minutes before I decided that for me, for today, it wasn't worth it. I headed for home. I've seen the lake before. No big loss. I passed a lot of people headed up as I headed down and I have no doubt that most, if not all, of them crossed that snowbridge. I also am fairly confident that the snowbridge won't survive the weekend with the foot traffic and the warm temperatures the trail is sure to get. I just hope no one is standing on it when it goes.