I confess I’m a little late on this trip report, but I’m guessing not much has changed since I was up there on Monday, considering the weather has primarily been sunny and cold all week.
Anyway, earlier this week I drove up to Blewett Pass looking for some snowy yet runnable terrain (similar to what I might experience at White Mountains, if conditions are good).
I got to Blewett Pass around 9:30 am. Following the directions provided on WTA, I parked on the north side of US97 and started walking up FS Road 7324. After about 1/2 mile, the road splits and you go left. The route is signed with blue diamonds and relatively easy to follow.
The road itself had been “groomed” by vehicles and was completely snow-covered and mostly hard-packed from start to finish. It was exactly the terrain I was looking for. If you really want to wear snowshoes, you could do that just for fun, but I didn’t bring them and didn’t need them. I carried my microspikes but didn’t need them either. (I suppose the road might be a bit icier now, so you might want to bring your microspikes just in case.)
I was pleasantly surprised by the views along the road – I could see the entire Stuart Range and beyond.
The road ended after about 3 miles, but a pair of snowshoe tracks continued on, and so did I. Eventually I reached a very large, snow-covered section of downed trees. The snowshoe tracks turned around here, and I followed suit. In total, I was able to get about 8 miles roundtrip along Wenatchee Crest, including some wandering to take in the views on both sides of the crest.
I still needed more miles so I crossed US 97 and accidentally stumbled upon the Swauk Forest Discovery Trail. This is a fine little trail with a few scenic spots. Nothing spectacular, but good for logging the extra miles that I needed. The snow along this trail was crusty, icy, and uneven. There was a fair amount of frost heave buried underneath 2-3 inches of crusty snow, which made for punchy, jarring terrain.
Quick note about gear:
I’ve been carrying a full pack lately, since I’ll be bringing all of the “strongly recommended” gear and some of the “recommended” gear listed here. (Checkpoints at White Mountains are ~20 miles apart, and it can take quite awhile to travel 20 miles in a snowstorm or even if there’s just fresh snow). Not to mention, if there’s a mishap, I need to be able to stay warm if I’m not moving. I’ve been warned that with these kinds of winter events, “things can go really wrong, really fast,” and I’m taking that advice seriously.
For this run, the pack worked fine and I was even able to do some actual running despite the extra weight and bulk. That said, next week I’ll be trying out a sled and I can’t wait! A sled just seems to make the most sense for snow travel on foot. More on that soon.