Caroline Peak by Preacher Mountain via Upper Wildcat Lake / 卡羅琳峯

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Caroline Peak by Preacher Mountain is in the top 10 highest in Snoqualmie Pass North. It sits above Upper Wildcat Lake and Lake Caroline as well. A common way to reach the peak is through Snow Lake Trail.

One step closer to Caroline Peak
Caroline Peak up ahead

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Caroline Peak at a Glance

Access: Snow Lake Trailhead
Round Trip: 18.6 miles
Elevation Range: 3120′-5885′
Gear: snowshoes
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: on the trail

Caroline Peak

Caroline Peak has been on the radar since I first saw it from Preacher Mountain. The pup and I attempted the peak in 2014. But we turned around at Upper Wildcat Lake after going off route.

An overnight trip to the peak would make the long hike worthwhile. But I continued to put the plan on hold because of the popularity of Alpine Lakes Wilderness. So I decided to climb it in one long day.

Caroline Peak in the clouds
Caroline Peak in the clouds

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Snow Lake Trailhead

The forecast had a small chance of rain and snow in the late morning. So the pup and I started hiking later. There was snow en route and down the north side of the wilderness boundary.

But none of the snow posed any real issues. Later the trail ended at the marked junction. So we went on High Lakes Trail and crossed the outlet on the bridge. I saw a tent above the cliffs.

See more trip photos here.

Gem Lake

It turned wintry halfway up to Gem Lake. We passed five hikers along the muddy trail as they exited. Later the path went around the north shore. Then it crossed the steep west face of Wright Mountain.

The trail switchbacked down into Lower Wildcat Lake Basin. Soon, the terrain became mostly snow-free. The sky cleared up at one point. Then we crossed a stream through the talus.

The other basin
The other basin

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Wildcat Lakes Basin

An altitude loss of 1000′ put us at the lowest point in the basin. Then we went up 300′ through the light brush to Upper Wildcat Lake. Later I chatted with two hikers below the outlet as they existed.

Soon, we reached the end of the trail. Then we continued to the north end of the lake. There a steep talus and wet heather slopes led us up to the 4640′ saddle. Along the way, three visible cairns showed that we were still on route.

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Northeast Ridge Route

Going through the northeast ridge was cumbersome at first. There wasn’t enough snow for us to move smoothly. At times, the heavily forested crest and outcrops forced us onto the west slopes.

But it would have been much more comfortable to sidestep across the slopes without the snow. We sometimes followed what looked like animal tracks. So we tried staying on them until they faded.

The elusive
The elusive Caroline Peak

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Caroline Peak Summit

As the ridgeline veered south at 5000′, the tall trees thinned out. More snow showed up as we climbed higher. Later I put on snowshoes to lessen the effort. So glad to have decided to bring them.

Below the north buttress was a massive talus. It spanned the north side of the peak. So we continued right and took the west option. From 5600′, we moved through more rocks to reach the west ridge at 5900′. Then a short scramble east put us on top.

Northeast view
Northeast view with Wildcat Lakes

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Glad wasn’t windy up here. The afternoon snow plus rain forecast never happened. But knowing we wouldn’t make it back before dark, we enjoyed 45 minutes on top. Then we savored the views as clouds shifted around the area. We followed our tracks to go back down to the talus afterward.

From the talus, we used our route to go back down to Wildcat Lakes. There we followed the trail up to Gem Lake and then back to Snow Lake. Then we climbed up for the last time to the wilderness boundary. From there, it was just walking the last 2.5 miles out to the car. A long day it was!

Thank you for another safe weekend
Thank you for another safe weekend

See more trip photos here.

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