Surprise (4508') & Glacier (4806') Lakes Miles: 10.5 Gain: 3100' GT Stevens Pass #176
• home •| • about • CascadeDreams
 March 20, 2010
Surprise and Glacier Lakes have become a staple winter snowshoe.  Access from Scenic and Hwy 2 is usually good and wandering amongst the huge boulders, transformed by deep snow, is often a surreal experience.  Kelley and I had originally been talking about Jim Hill for this nice near spring Saturday.  But as the weekend approached, the bomb proof snow conditions we'd need just didn't materialize.  Maybe we'll try Jim Hill a little later in the spring.  It's a fine scramble when the snow is stable and the summit rock snow free and dry.

The five of us met at the Monroe P&R at 7:30am and carpooled to Scenic, just a few miles west of Stevens Pass.  The turn off isn't marked and it's pretty easy to fly right by it on the highway, but if you look closely you'll see the highway maintenance yard about a half mile before the big switchback.  Turn right off the highway and cross the RR tracks.  Go right again, following a road into the trees and the small trailhead.  Hike the power line road to the trail marker about a 1/4 mile from the cars.  We found bare trail to about 3100' and packed snow/ice thereafter.

The summer trail starts on the west side of the creek and crosses to the east at about 2800'.  Normally not a difficult chore as a flat topped log serves as a bridge from one side to the other.  On this day, there was hard snow and ice built up on the log and it didn't look like it would be worth the risk of a slip and a dunking in the creek.  Instead we picked a couple of different paths across using rocks and smaller logs and only two of us plunged a boot into the water.

The trail became harder to follow above about 3400' as it turns up slope and heads for the ridge, but we continued trudging along connecting bits of the path and generally making progress toward the lake.  After a long hike up what we thought was the outlet for the lake, we came to a small basin and were surprised(!) to find no lake.  Our altimeters and time sense told us we should have reached the lake and if the elevation was to be believed, were above it by a hundred feet or more. 

After scratching our maps and reading the bumps on our heads we figured out that we had missed the minor ridge the trail climbs as it passes Surprise Lake above it's eastern shore and had instead followed a creek into a small basin.  No problem that a short but steep climb back to the ridge wouldn't solve.

So we climbed to the ridge crest, found the path and followed it down to the shores of Glacier Lake.  There had been some discussion about trying for Spark Plug on this trip, but by the time we got the the lake, it was close enough to a reasonable turn-around time that we called it a day.  We followed the trail along the ridge back to Surprise Lake, took a short break to enjoy the view and headed back. 

Great weather and fair conditions for a very enjoyable snowshoe.  Except for the baffling fact that the trees seemed to be trying to get even with Carol for something she did or said or thought or ?.   :)

Drive US Hwy 2 east to the turn off just before you reach the 'Big Switchback' a couple miles west of Stevens Pass Ski area.  Go right across the railroad tracks and right again to follow a dirt road into the trees for about 1/4 mile to the small trailhead.  No facilities..
 24  images in this album.
SimpleViewer requires JavaScript and the Flash Player. Get Flash.
All original content ©CascadeDreams - All rights reserved.Last Revision: 22 March 2010