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

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K9 by Nimbus Mountain and Thor Peak rises above Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) in Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Scenic Creek directly leads to the peak in the winter when PCT isn’t accessible. Best of all, this rocky summit offers spectacular views of the surrounding peaks.

Sunday morning traffic
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 in January. It’s one of the many places we’ve yet to explore between Icicle Creek and Deception Creek. So far, we’ve only done Mac Peak, Surprise Mountain, and Spark Plug Mountain.

I have been fighting a sinus infection for the past three weeks. Although yesterday’s weather was gorgeous, I was glad to have started home and rested. Then today, I felt well enough to tackle the peak with the pup.

K9 above canine
Sunday morning traffic

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Scenic Creek Trail

Snowplows have cleared the roads to park south of the railroad tracks. Then I started snowshoeing right away from the Scenic Creek entrance. It would be our first time going through this drainage.

The aftermath of the February snowstorms was apparent as the area was still under much fresh snow. Not that Cody wasn’t helpful in trail-breaking. But I could’ve used another body to help carve out a path.

Making our path along Scenic Creek
Making our path along Scenic Creek

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En Route to Hamada Lake

The two and a half miles to Hamada Lake didn’t go as fast as planned. There was no easy way to move ahead without postholing constantly. So we tried hugging Scenic Creek and weaved through the trees to avoid soft snow.

But I was still glad to have snow smooth out the terrain. Otherwise, we would’ve had to hop over massive down trees underneath. It also allowed us to bypass two boulder fields en route.

Hamada Lake
Hamada Lake

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K9 West Basin

My initial plan was to go through Murphy Lakes and Point 5756’s south notch. But then I decided to go through Hamada Lake instead. We later reached Hamada Lake’s outlet and saw today’s goal.

After rechecking the maps, it looked like we could take the shorter way up to the peak. And given today’s snow conditions, it looked doable. So from the lake, we went east into K9’s west basin.

K9 West basin
K9 West basin

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The West Notch

I had seen photos of K9’s impressive north face. But the west side looked just as stunning from a thousand feet below. The final 150′ to the notch was agonizing as thigh-deep had slowed us down significantly.

At last, we made it above the steep gully after many grunts. Then I took a minute to enjoy the gorgeous south view before moving again. But I knew all this effort would soon pay off.

Eyeing the notch
Eyeing the notch

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The Final Stretch on K9

It was only another half a mile to the top from the notch. But we first had to gain another 750′ of elevation. However, that part alone ended up taking another hour to go through! The fatigue had set in at last.

Our tracks alternated between a few strides on firm snow and calf-deep plunges in fresh powder. I soon felt winded and knew I wasn’t as well as I had thought. Then to make matters worse, I started coughing again.

The K9 west ridge traverse
The K9 west ridge traverse

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K9 Summit Views

What a gorgeous day in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness! It was a long and heavily corniced summit from what I saw from the basin. I felt for solid rocks with the poles away from the edge before sitting down.

I knew the 25 mph-plus wind was in the forecast. But it turned out to be breezy and warm when we reached the top. Glad that the 25-degree weather didn’t feel cold either.

Southern panoramic view
Southern panoramic view

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Name That Peak

I looked around and could only name the peaks several valleys away. Stuart Range was to the southeast, and Nason Ridge to the northeast. There was also the Wild Sky Wildness high points northwest of here.

Since I hadn’t explored much of the area, all the nearby high points looked foreign. But I know I’ve seen them from other places before. Glad I had brought maps to add more peaks to the bucket list, perhaps.

Northern panoramic view
Northern panoramic view

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Outro

We enjoyed an hour on top before leaving the summit. And with a fast descent, it took under two hours to return to the car. Thanks partly to the enormous amount of snow!

We saw fresh ski tracks on the frozen pond back in Hamada Lake Basin. It looked like others were here playing in the powder also. But they all had left before we showed up there.

Evening view
Evening view

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