Photos from this trip can be found here.
Last Christmas we turned around at mile 2.5 after spending hours swimming in fresh powder while breaking trail. This year I was very much determined to bring back our Christmas Day tradition, but kept fingers crossed for good snow conditions. Parked the car just off road turnoff on Highway 2 and walked to trailhead.
Big thanks to early morning skiers heading up the basin for laying down nice consolidated tracks, that sped things up significantly. At the log crossing, ski tracks continued along west side of Surprise Creek while pups and I crossed the creek to the east side. Put on snowshoes there and saw presumably old tracks from the group in previous report, we followed the tracks to steep slopes below lake basin. A fresh pair of ski tracks picked up where snowshoe tracks petered out and went all the way up to the lake outlet.
All morning we had been in the shade where the sun didn’t reach. So having all that sunshine the minute we reached the outlet was…awesome! The lake was frozen except by the outlet where there was moving water. We walked down the east shore a bit to check things out, then went back and sat by the outlet for rest of our stay. Judging by fresh ski tracks alongside lake shore, there were others in the basin even though we never saw anyone coming down. The wind was super calm, dead silence the minute we stopped making any sounds. So hard to leave the heat behind and to be back in the shade on the way down and out.
Back at bottom of the steep section I noticed foot tracks that appeared to have turned around. Snowshoeing wasn’t exactly a walk in the park on the way in, so I couldn’t have imagined trekking all that way without snowshoes. Looks like more snow on the way next few days, not sure how much longer tracks will be around to help with trail breaking.
Access: Surprise Lake Trailhead
Gear: microspikes, snowshoes