We arrived at Bridge Creek Campground on Icicle Road near Leavenworth later Friday night. After a night of cramping slumber in my CRV Eric and I woke to a winter day that was cold but not bitter and cloudy, but with high visibility. The perfect day for our first snow camp of the season. This was supposed to be a snowshoe journey, but the snow was only 3-4 inches deep so we attached the snowshoes to our packs in case we needed them as we gained elevation and set out.

The route is called the “Eightmile Creek Snowshoe”. It begins at Bridge Creek Campground and followed Forest Road 7601 (closed to vehicles during he winter). It is a steady ascent gaining 1300 feet in three miles. Eric and I took our time admiring the views of the Canyon and the many ice formation on the mountains. We were passed by two ice climbers along the way, but no one else. We turned off the road and onto Eightmile Lake Trail.

We were the first people on the trail since snow fell it seemed. The only tracks we saw were that of various critters. We still did not need our snowshoes. The trail was easy to follow even under snow. Some of the steam and creek crossings were dicey due to the ice, but no one got wet or took a tumble. The sun only revealed itself from behind the tall mountains that surrounded up in the valley for an hour (maybe less). Other we remained shaded and cool. Again the elevation was mostly steady gain except for a few short lived steeper sections. There are warning about the area being avalanche prone where there is more snow on the surrounding slopes, I would agree that indeed any avalanche would empty right into the valley in which were trekked. Lucky for us the snow accumulation or lack there of made avalanches exceedingly unlikely.

We reached Little Eightmile Lake which is more of a pond and then Eightmile Lake .5 miles later after a final steep climb. This was our destination. We had hiked here once before two years earlier in the rain and mist of October. Now it was clear and the mountains that had been hidden on our last visit were visible in all their snowy glory. We made camp in the tree, protected from the high winds near the open lake. It was 3:45pm by then and the light was fading. We took a quick stroll along the Lake Shore for perhaps 1/3 of the mile. The snow was deeper here than anywhere on the trail. If it wasn’t just a stroll we might have gotten use of our snowshoes.We were back at camp by 4:40… We boiled some water and enjoyed our couscous dinner before turning in at 5:15. The wind howled all night, but we were cozy in our down sleeping bags.I got up once to look at the lake at night. The moon made the snow glow and brightened the night so that it only felt like dusk. Beautiful.

After over 12 hours in the tent we began to stir at 5:45am on Sunday.The winds were still high and we ate breakfast in the vestibule before quickly packing up camp. We headed out at 6:30 before the sun was up because I like hiking in the snow in the dark.  We were treated to a colorful sunrise and also much less snow. A lot had melted the previous day and parts of the trail were bare. The melt was ever more apparent when we reach 7601. The snow had melted on most of the road and all the remained was a nice shiny sheet of ice. Cursing ourselves for not taking our micro spikes we stuck to the side of the road were there was still snow. The views of the mountains on the way down were just as gorgeous as the day before and we reached my car much earlier than expected.

 

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