K9 by Nimbus Mountain and Thor Peak via Scenic Creek / K9峯

  • Reading time:4 mins read

K9 by Nimbus Mountain rises above Pacific Crest Trail in Alpine Lakes Wilderness. At the same time, it sits just north of the famous Trap Lake. Best of all, this rocky summit offers a panoramic view of the surrounding peaks.

K9 above canine
K9 above canine

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K9 at a Glance

Access: Scenic Creek Trailhead
Round Trip: 7 miles
Elevation Range: 2200′-6242′
Gear: snowshoes
GPS track: available
Dog-Friendly: with guidance

The Preface

I first saw K9 from Windy Mountain back in January. But it’s one of the few places west of French Creek the pups have climbed with me. Mac Peak, Surprise Mountain, and Spark Plug Mountain, to be exact.

I have been fighting a sinus infection for the last three weeks. But today, I felt well enough to tackle the peak. Even though yesterday’s weather was gorgeous, I was glad to have rested.

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Scenic Creek to Hamada Lake

The snowplows have cleared the roads recently. So I was able to drive over the railroad tracks. Then from the Scenic Creek entrance, I started snowshoeing right away. The aftermath of the February snowstorms was apparent. The area was still under much fresh snow. Not that Cody wasn’t helpful. But I could have used another human to help with trail breaking.

The 2.5-mile to Hamada Lake didn’t go as fast as planned. But we stayed close to Scenic Creek. And we weaved through the forest to avoid soft snow. But thanks to the snow cover. Otherwise, we would have to hop over massive down trees underneath. We also bypassed two boulder fields along the way.

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Hamada Lake to the West Notch

Later, we came to the outlet of Hamada Lake. There I got the first good look at today’s goal. My initial plan was to go up to Murphy Lakes Basin. Then from there, we would go to the notch south of Point 5756. But I rechecked the maps. Then I thought that a direct, shorter route would be possible, given the snow conditions. So from the lake, we went east into K9’s west basin.

I had seen photos of K9’s impressive north face. But the western side looked just as stunning from a thousand feet below. The last 150′ up to the notch was agonizing. The thigh-deep made it even slower going. Later, we went above the steep gully. Then I took a minute to enjoy the southern scenery. Right away, I knew all the suffering would be worth it.

The Final Stretch on K9

From the notch, it was just another half a mile to get to the top. But not before gaining another750′ elevation. Though, this part ended up taking us another hour to go through! Oh, the exhaustion had set in finally.

Our tracks alternated between a few strides on firm snow, and then calf-deep plunges into fresh powder. To make matters worse, I started coughing again. Quickly, I began to feel winded every few minutes. So I guess I wasn’t as well as I thought!

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K9 Summit Plus Views

It was an elongated and heavily corniced summit. I felt for solid rocks away from the edge before we settled down. What a gorgeous day in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness! Before the trip, the 25+ mph wind was in the forecast. But it was breezy but warm after we came up to the top. The 25-degree temperature reading also didn’t feel as cold.

As I looked around, the only peaks I could identify were several valleys away. There was Stuart Range to the southeast and Nason Ridge to the northeast. Plus, the Wild Sky Wildness high points northwest of here. Since I hadn’t explored much of the area, I couldn’t name most of the nearby peaks. But that’s why I brought maps! We enjoyed an hour on top before going back down.

Evening view
Evening view

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The descent was a breeze. So it took just under two hours to go back out to Highway 2. Down in the Hamada Lake Basin, I noticed fresh ski tracks on the frozen lake. It looked like someone else was here playing in the powder. But they had left before we made ot back down.

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