Eric, the only other hiker I know who owns a Hancock permit, and I met in Snoqualmie after work for a quick shot at Moolock Mountain. Sure, you can tackle it from the Middle Fork, but that's the sucker's route. With permits (and keys) we'd be able to drive all the way up to the Crown Lakes and have an easy walk up decommissioned logging roads.
Yeah... easy. Ha.
It wasn't raining as we double-timed it up the roads past SMC Lake to the edge of Lake Nadeau. As usual, we couldn't see anything of this supposed lake. Even hurling a rock into the void resulted in clattering rather than splashing.
However, our destination was up the hill behind the lake to Moolock Mountain. A direct approach would fail due to a series of cliff bands, so we swung up to climber's right hoping to gain the ridge, wander over (or just below) the false summit, and then tag the true summit.
It became apparent, pretty quickly, that the conditions were ripe for an epic failure. Nasty, postholy snow, low visibility, late in the day. If it weren't for the permits I'm sure Moolock would be a TNAB.
We pushed up a boulder field (lightly covered with snow) onto the old road bed (heavily covered with snow) and across a few streams (partially covered with snow). When the switchbacks of the road allowed we cut corners and headed straight up. Eventually, we opted to get to the ridge quicker and headed for the top with the aid of a few veggie belays that were there when we needed them. (Besides, if we hadn't grabbed the blueberry bushes to pull ourselves up they would have tangled our feet and dragged us down.)
On the ridge we found the other side (to the east) was mostly snow free. Our travel became quicker, but wetter. It wasn't long before we were on the treed false summit and realizing we would be wiser to return the way we came rather than try for the true summit. Later, this high point would be declare Foolock, but clearly we were the fools.
Back in the basin, we had time to spare so we headed around Lake Nadeau (with some first-ever views!) and up the hill to Moolock Lake. The three are called the Crown Lakes, but clearly Moolock is the gem among them. SMC and Nadeau both bear the scars of logging and frequent visits, but standing on the shore of Moolock, even with low clouds, reminded me more of an alpine lake than just another hole filled with water in the tree farm.
After soaking in the (very limited) views we turned for home, but when we reached the last intersection to the car we continued straight looking for access to Nadeau. We saw there were a bunch of fish rising and since we know SMC is barren and Moolock was still partially frozen Nadeau was the best chance to catch something up there.
At the end of the road we found a gorgeous meandering creek and a likely avenue to get into the water and onto the lake itself. Minimal effort, maximum reward. Sounds like a plan.
We were later than we had hoped getting out so we skipped the pizza place and even the Pour House in favor of coherence at work the next day. However, Moolock Mountain is still on my list and I think I've got a new approach that'll go with just a bit less (or a lot more) snow. Eric says he's up for it, too. Sucker.
Total distance: 5.4 miles and 2,150 feet of gain.