Trip report: PCT north from Snoqualmie Pass

I only had 6 miles on tap this morning, but I wanted to get out in the mountains, so I planned a route that would start at the Pacific Crest Trailhead (PCT) heading north from Snoqualmie Pass. From there I hoped to take a left onto the Old Cascade Crest trail (OCC), then go right on the Commonwealth Trail, and finally back to the trailhead via the PCT. I’ve done it in the summer and it’s a nice little loop. I was curious to see if I could pull it off in the current “winter” conditions.

The road to the PCT trailhead parking lot was still covered in snow, so I parked at the Summit at Snoqualmie parking lot and ran under the freeway and then along the FS road to the trailhead. Although it’s a ridiculously low-snow year, there is still some snow to be found… it’s not in great condition, but it’s white stuff!

Snow at the trailhead

The first 1/4 mile on the PCT was smooth sailing and covered in packed snow, but when I turned onto the OCC Trail it was in pretty poor shape. I only made it approx 1/4 of a mile on the OCC before turning around. I was postholing up to my hips (I’m 5’6) and the snow was icy and crusty so it scraped my shins quite nicely every time I broke through. Snowshoes would’ve helped, but I didn’t bring them because I was looking to run.

Watch out for that crusty snow, it’ll get ya.

So after struggling up the OCC trail for ~10 minutes, I headed back to the PCT for an out-and-back. Not the route I was hoping for, but still fun.

The PCT itself is in reasonable condition for February. I didn’t encounter any blowdowns. It is still mostly covered in packed snow and ice, and in fact I was surprised at the amount of ice on the trail, given all the rain we’ve had lately. That said, it was runnable in microspikes – although every so often my foot would unexpectedly break through the top layer of snow.

First major stream crossing

I ran up to the first major waterfall crossing (~3 miles from the Summit parking lot), and decided to turn around there. The water is running pretty high, but you should be able to get across it if you’re so inclined. However, I was at my turnaround time/mileage, so I just took a quick pic and then headed back down to the TH.

Guye Peak from the PCT

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