Tess and I inaugurated the WTA Hike-a-Thon 2009 with a trek up Gold Creek just north of Snoqualmie Pass. It was a nice escape from the heat down in the valley and even though we encountered some serious challenges we had a great time picking our way through these.
The first four miles of this trail are in great shape. We were able to move over it pretty quickly and enjoyed the views of the creek and the surrounding mountains when not under a canopy of trees. Monkshood, monkey flower, fireweed and many other late bloomers are easily seen along this section of the path.
Be prepared if you plan on working your way past the debris field. This will take lots of time, you’ll probably get wet walking through the creek, and you’ll be tired on the far side. That avalanche that caused this mess must have been an amazing sight. On the west side of the valley make note of the dead fall caused by the avalanche running across the valley and up the other side. Also there is still a boulder sized chunk of dirty snow here near the base of the hill. We really enjoyed imagining how all that debris made its way on top of this ice block thus protecting it from the sun.
Once you reconnect with the trail on the far side of the debris field you can pick up the pace again for a while. There were lots of wild strawberries and blueberries, some of which were in fruit all the way up to Alaska Lake.
At the point the trail turns up the hill toward Alaska Lake the path becomes very tentative. You’ll end up pushing through low branches and hoping over boulder fields on this steep ascent, but if you’ve made it this far already you’re more than ready for the challenge. This is where the black flies became a misery for us so we did not linger at the lake.
The majority of this trail is in good working order, however, because of avalanche, the condition of the trail in some places is non-existent. Exercise your caution before you attempt to cross these places.