Canine Spotting on K9 / K9峯上發現到狗

Canine below K9
Canine below K9

See more trip photos here.

K9 was a surprise find when a friend and I spotted the peak from Windy Mountain back in January. Apart from pups and my annual visits to Surprise Lake plus a few nearby high points like Mac Peak and Spark Plug Mountain, we hadn’t explored much of the area between Icicle Ridge and Deception Creek.

After three-week-long flu/cold/sinus infection, today I finally felt well enough to come back to the area to tackle the peak. During our trip to Mailbox Peak on Friday, I didn’t think I’d make it to the top with all the coughing and the constant stopping to catch my breath. Yesterday’s weather was too good not to get out again but glad to have taken a rest day.

The Lowdown on K9

Access: Scenic Creek Trailhead
Round Trip: 7 miles
Elevation Range: 2200′-6242′
Gear: snowshoes
GPS track available upon request

The Approach to Hamada Lake

With the roads having been recently plowed, I was able to drive over the railroad tracks. Once I parked by the Scenic Creek entrance, I immediately had to start snowshoeing. The aftermath of the February snowstorms was quite apparent, as much of the area was still under a layer of fresh snow. Not that Cody wasn’t helpful, but for this trip, I could’ve used at least one other human partner to share the trail breaking fun!

The 2.5-mile approach to Hamada Lake didn’t go as fast as planned. We stayed close to Scenic Creek while getting in and out of the forest in an attempt to avoid soft snow. But the snow coverage did save us from having to hop over the otherwise would be massive down trees underneath. We bypassed a couple of boulder fields along the way.

See more trip photos here.

The Climb to the 5500′ Notch

From the outlet of Hamada Lake, I finally got the first good look of today’s destination. My original plan was to head up to Murphy Lakes Basin and approach the peak by first attaining the notch south of Point 5756. But after carefully studying the maps, I decided that a direct and shorter approach would work in our favor given today’s snow conditions. So from the lake we headed east into K9’s west basin.

I had seen photos of K9’s intimidating north face, but the western aspect of the peak was just as impressive when looking up from a thousand feet below. The last 150′ up to the notch through thigh deep snow was agonizing and even slower going. When we finally got above the steep gully, I took a moment and enjoyed views to the south. Immediately I knew the pain and suffering leading up to this point would be well worth it.

From the notch, it was merely another half a mile traverse over a 750′ elevation gain to the summit. But this section ended up taking us another hour to get through! Our tracks were alternating between a few steps on firm snow and calf-deep plunges into fresh powder. To make matters worth, I started coughing again and started to feel winded every few minutes. Guess I wasn’t as well as I thought!

See more trip photos here.

The Summit

We arrived on a heavily corniced and elongated summit. I poked around for solid rocks away from the edges before settling down. What a gorgeous day in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness! Before the trip, the 25+ mph wind I saw in the weather forecast was very concerning. But when we got to the summit, it ended up being breezy but warm despite the 25-degree temperature reading.

As I looked around at the beautiful views, I realized the only high points I could identify were several valleys away. Stuart Range to the southeast, Nason Ridge to the northeast, and the Wild Sky Wildness high points northwest of here were all visible. As I mentioned in the beginning, I hadn’t explored this area much, so I couldn’t name most of the nearby peaks without looking at the map. We enjoyed a good hour on top before heading back down.

See more trip photos here.

The Outro

The descent was a breeze, and it took under two hours to get back out to Highway 2. Back in the Hamada Lake Basin, I noticed fresh ski tracks over the frozen lake. It looked like whoever was enjoying all this powder up on the slopes had left before we got back down.

Evening view
Evening view

See more trip photos here.

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