In December, we made two trips to Gold Creek Pond for snowshoeing. The first was a normal day-time trip, and the other was our second-annual twilight year-end snowshoe. We did both trips with our friend Cindy and her dogs. The first trip was after a large amount of powder had fallen, and the snow was soft and fluffy.
A narrow track had been beaten down for snowshoeing, and if we stepped on the margins, we sunk deep. By the second trip, the path was much wider, and an icy crust covered the consolidated powder.
On our first trip, the temps were around 20 degrees, and we had partial clearing, with peeks of blue sky and frigid mountain peaks.
Cindy had issues with her four dogs getting tangled up on their leads, but we always enjoy their unique personalities and the energy the dogs bring to a hike.
As usual, we saw lots of snowshoe hare tracks in the snow around the pond area. We also saw some other tracks that we couldn’t identify.
Annika enjoyed getting down into the powder and eating it. It’s such a treat for us lowlanders.
We had a few brief flurries of the tiniest imaginable flakes. It was so cold we couldn’t stop for very long to rest, eat or take photos.
The pond was partially frozen, and it looked like people had walked out onto it, but I never feel comfortable with that pond, since it’s usually melted out at the other end.
The bridges were safe and easy to walk over. But when I stepped off the boardwalk at the far end of the pond, I sunk way down into a hole.
Our second trip was a bit warmer, even though it was a night. It stayed around 30 degrees for this one.
We had some additional friends along this time – a friend of Gabe’s from school and his mom, and Don, a friend of Cindy’s. I like having a bit larger group if we’re going to be there in the dark. The road was somehow more slippery on the way in than the time before. Maybe it was the melting slush on top of solid ice. But the crazy crowds of holiday weekends were leaving, which made it fairly easy to drive down to the parking area. As we geared up, it got dark, and we got our headlamps out before we started hiking. We only stopped briefly again for hot tea and a snack, and for Gabe to take some night photos of stars and the mountains, and the lights on the Hyak ski area.
The doggies had their own lighted collars, and Cindy tried a different arrangement for their leads, which worked much better. The deep powder on trees and bushes was replaced by globs of icy snow, which Annika enjoyed picking off and eating.
There is something magical about being in the snowy woods at night. When we turned our headlamps out, the surrounding mountains glowed orange from the lights across the freeway. Packs get frosty as we walk, and ice crystals float in the air from ambient moisture. The trail feels safe, since we’ve been there so often and there really aren’t that many options to get lost. After the weekend crowds leave, the area is peaceful and so gorgeous.
If You Go: The snowshoe is 2.4 miles RT, with an elevation gain of 100 feet. You’ll need a regular Sno-Park Pass (buy it online and print it out, or find a list of places that sell it in person on the website.) The road in can get very narrow when it is crowded, making for interesting driving. Don’t park at the entrance to the road (by the freeway interchange) but head about a mile down the road to where the porta-potties are, and the Gold Creek Pond road heads north. Watch out for kids who sled along the road. This road often becomes a solid sheet of ice, though it is plowed regularly. I find microspikes helpful for gearing up at the car. Some people hike this trail in winter boots, but you’ll be more comfortable with snowshoes, especially if you need to step off the trail for some reason. Gaiters are also really nice to keep the snow out of your boots. Please be prepared with winter gear and emergency essentials.