Usual TNAB fare is usually a bit stiff. However, for the Winter Solstice trip it's been a bit more mellow the last few years. Last year we partied heartily on Little Si. This year Hyak Lake was the choice in spite of lousy snow and a forecast for... um... rain. Nothing so much fun as snowshoeing in the rain.
Nonetheless, we spooked the Snoqualmie Pass locals by walking up the residential streets to the "trailhead" for the Nordic Pass trail. We had no intention of going all the way to Nordic Pass. You'd have to be crazy to do that. Instead we were heading for trusty old Hyak Lake.
Hyak Lake isn't anything really really special. It is where I did some of my first nightshoe adventures and I've been there a bunch, but it's just a nondescript bit of flat snow in the winter. However, for the TNAB Solstice Party that's all we really needed.
We actually needed snowshoes as soon as we left the pavement and kept them on the entire way to the lake. Good thing, too, since we'd wind up tromping all over the place. Aside from the first and almost last of the blue diamond trail markers we hardly followed the real trail. Instead, we moseyed in the right general direction with corrections galore. We were in no hurry so I was happy to follow along adding my two cents only when we stopped for a collective chat just before the lake. (Subsequent hikers commented on the veritable highway that wound through the woods courtesy of 14 sets of snowshoes.)
We were off a bit and wound up near the groomed skiing trail, but aside from getting a look of "Are you frickin' crazy?" from the groomer it was no big deal. We beat our trench into the snow next to the skier's lane until we found the diamonds again and descended back to the lake.
Our massive snowshoe power made a big flat spot that the dogs enjoyed lounging in after the deeper snow we'd found earlier. Tokul was especially happy, I think. Being a Solstice event there was food galore and perhaps even more to drink. I had my usual hot chocolate, but there was glogg and something German that was on fire. If the flaming drink had come out any later I think certain folks might have forgotten entirely to blow it out before drinking and might have lost an eyebrow or two.
After pictures (lots and lots of pictures, but almost none from me since I managed to leave the camera at home) I broke trail out through the meadow and down to the powerlines. It wasn't exactly on the blue diamond route, but it was a heck of a lot closer than the way we came up. The torches remained lit all the way back to the car. I'm still amazed nobody called the cops on us. Maybe they knew we were coming.
At the cars we lamented the end of the 2009 TNAB season and started talking about 2010. With good weather there might be a TNAB Lunatique hike in the very near future. And there's little chance it'll be to such a sedate destination as Hyak Lake.
Total distance was about four miles and 1,600 feet of gain.