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Sunday, July 18, 2010

Walking the Katwalk

...or at least trying.

What a frustrating weather year this is. Upper elevation trails are still not thawed out. While I always vow that my purpose for a hike is not to get to the end, turn around and return, it would be nice to achieve this one.

I went up Kendall Katwalk on 4th of July weekend but got turned back by a deep waterfall crossing. I didn't feel up to hiking in soggy shoes. This time I figured with a few weeks and warm weather I was bound to have better success.

Saturday I woke up early and had a Birthday Breakfast of Blueberry scones. My favorite indulgence and suitable for this days hike.

I was happy to see several cars when I arrived at the trail head on the north side of Snoqualmie Pass. At least others knew the trail was usable. I entered the woods and immediately encountered blooming Western Coralroot. While the environment was suitable these orchids were not as bountiful as I have encountered elsewhere in the lowlands this Spring.

I hiked along at a good clip, noticing that the Queens Cup was bursting at the seams and spilling down every slope around the trails.

Marsh Marigold liked the wet seepage areas, which were many on the lower portion of the trail.

I made it up to the waterfall crossing in good time and was happy to see usable stones above the waterline. The sky had not yet cleared and low clouds hung in the trees. There was some bird activity and I once again encountered a noisy Gray Jay family.

Between the second and third switchback you cross an old open avalanche slide area. This is Blueberry Heaven, the Holy of Holy.

Last September 27 I posted a report of this hike and showed you the bounty of blueberries I collected. I could have picked more but I was unprepared as far as having a container. I drank down all of my water and used my empty water bottles. I sloshed down from that hike and made my favorite scone recipe. More made it to the freezer and I believe I baked with them until April.

The path to the blueberry patches is along old downed trees. You stand on the logs and pick everything within reach. I am sure one could spend a lot of time in here, but the berries are so plentiful and plump, you get your fill in no time.

From this clearing you can look up and see Kendall peak (on the left) and just make out the green slope of the Kendall Garden (to its right)

The trail does several switchbacks and I crossed and recrossed the same waterfall / creek. I started encountering snow patches at the third switchback. They were well trod but gave that delightful crunchy "squeak scrunch" feel and sound. A treat to my ears anytime, let alone in mid-July.

You exit the timberline and have a last, long straightaway on the trail. Looking back you can see Mt Rainier. This day , in a matter of 10 minutes or so, the clouds burned off, which I captured in pictures.

From here you can see and hear I-90. Even though I had been hiking for 2 hours, it was still deceptively close. The trail winds up the slope following the noses of the foot of the mountains.

The long trial enters the area known as Kendall Garden. A steep open "grassy" slope is alive with plants. I saw Marmots playing around high up the slope. Near my feet carpets of Spreading Phlox spangled with dew

and Red Columbine just starting to bloom. Everywhere there were Heathers of different types. Happily there was little in the way of nasty bugs, only hover flies and a few early butterflies.

I reached the top of the long up trail and rounded what is the north face of Kendall Peak and once again hit frozen stuff. I knew it was the end of my hike, 1/2 mile short of the Katwalk. While this slope clearly had a foot path across it, I didn't feel bold for it. The slope was far too steep, I would estimate 50 degrees? and one slip and I would be gone.

I ate my sandwich, pleased that I had done five miles in 2.75 hours. There was no wind and the weather was perfect, but turn back I must.

I encountered many people on the way up and it was nice chatting with some and being able to give them reports. One large group was heavily laden with camera equipment and all had poles , ice as and even some treads and ropes. I told their leader that I had no doubt that they would have no reason to fear that last snow crossing.

I also met some folks that were horrifically under equipped for such a hike. Clearly not carrying "the 10 essentials" tennis shoes with anklets and a 12 oz bottle of water is not going to get you very far in any hike.

A young boy alerted me to a cool spider. He was chattering away as I approached continued to chatter away as he departed. I stopped at the web he had pointed to and found this interesting spider atop its web in some ferns.

It was in this spot I found Northern Green Bog orchids earlier this month. I was looking at them and I spotted another little spider. I was trying to get a good shot since green on green in green is a tricky combo.

I back dropped the flower with my hand the the little spider immediately took this defensive pose. I am kind of struck that he pretty much echos the size and shape of the blossoms themselves.

So I need to return to this trail in September to restock my freezer with truly wild local blueberries and Huckleberries. I would love to get up to Kendall Gardens a bit later this summer to take in the flowers in their glory.

And actually walk the Katwalk

I just keep missing the moment.


  1. You have the most wondrous weather there. You are both far ahead of us, and far later than us, all within driving distance. you were looking at flowers while we were still snow covered. Here I am, now, seeing the first goldenrod, and you're still seeing Spring flowers, just higher up.

    Next time -- The Katwalk!

  2. I feel like I have been chasing Spring all year.

  3. The weather really has been excellent hasn't it? Love the pictures of the spider on the Bog Orchis. Looks like a hike we'll have to do some time.