Photos from this trip can be found here.
Snoqualmie Pass area was submerged in a sea of clouds, so we turned around at the Hyak Exit and scratched the plan to climb Roaring Ridge. Without an immediate backup plan, I thought we’d check out Dirty Harrys Peak, which I hadn’t visited since my first time up five years ago. Reports indicated the trail is temporarily closed for maintenance until further notice. But it piqued my curiosity greatly to see just how badly damaged the trail was.
Half a mile road walk from Dirty Harrys Balcony Trailhead to what would be the usual inconspicuous trail/old road entrance. The entrance typically marked by a batch of tree branches was barely recognizable, and I walked farther up the road to be sure we were at the right place. Spotted faint tracks in the snow past the entrance, we started fighting our way through the uncountable number of down trees. Not enough snow to snowshoe over the debris, yet too much snow not to posthole. Slowly we managed to get through the initial mess by staying on hikers left along the edge of the trail.
Half a mile road walk took half an hour, it became evident that getting to the summit at a decent hour would not be possible if we continued to stay on the road. So we headed into the forest at the first creek crossing around 1,700′, cut the first two switchbacks to 2,050′, then got back out on the road again. Less snow through the forest made for a much efficient traverse. Seeing the number of down trees on the road hadn’t decreased, a brief walk along road edge and we headed right back into the forest and traversed northeastward up steep slopes.
By now there was enough snow in the forest to snowshoe and took advantage of a snow chute to speed up the traverse. We intersected the road at 2,800′. From there, with sufficient snow and absence of down trees, we were able to stay on the road and made it all the way to the summit. Like the time before, there wasn’t much to see on top except us staring at one another. One of the two Granite Lakes was visible when we arrived, then clouds rolled in and took away our only view.
On the way back we cut switchbacks from 4,000′ to 3,600′, then from 2,800′ back to 2,050′. There was no way around the initial half mile of tree debris, but I kept snowshoes on to avoid postholing.