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  • Writer's pictureChris Toepker

Snoqualmie Pass, Scouting Outings

Updated: May 15, 2020

One of the impossibilities of training for the Hong Kong Four Trails Ultra Challenge (HK4TUC) is recreating the difficulty of the race, at home. You need to train where you are.

Luckily, around The Sound we have places to replicate a lot of the features: distance, elevation gain, and a mix of trail and concrete surfaces. We also get to replicate some of the spirit of the race: self-support, getting out on the wealth of trails and of course: no poles!

Where? How? Go from Lake Washington to Snoqualmie Pass.

Of course, training in that spirit has different implications here than there. After all, you're unlikely to run into a bear on the trail in the 852 (that's the HK country code, you see). Also, there are a lot more vending machines in HK parks. You won't see those...or a store...or even people...for most of a trek in the PNW. It truly is wilderness for much of the way. So, you have to pack differently and plan to carry a lot more. So much the better for the training, right?

We are spoiled for choice in the trails department. Thanks to lumber and railroad tycoons of bygone days, plus modern foresight of local leaders, there's a lot of converted through-ways criss-crossing western Washington. Hooray for rails-to-trails! With all this choice, and wanting to ramp up to match the HK4TUC difficulty, wayfinding has proven important. I've now taken a couple routes towards The Pass, and am set on the first really long attempt: Issaquah to Preston, then Preston to Snoqualmie, then Snoqualmie Valley to Rattlesnake Lake, then up Iron Horse trail to The Pass. Then back.

Here's two recent scouting outings, what do you think?

This route traverses Raging River and Rattlesnake Ridge. The recordings split in two because my batteries died! Starting downwards to the Lake Sammamish basin, then up the other side to Preston, then through the Raging River basin, finally up and along the Rattlesnake Ridge to Rattlesnake Lake. The GPS track tells me there was at least 3,500 feet ascent (counting all the ups, not just altitude), with 2,000 of it in the last 10 miles. Is it any wonder the views from Rattlesnake Ledge are amazing? Top of the world!

The other, and now initially preferred route for the first attempt, bypasses the Ridge. After coming out of the Sammamish lake basin in Preston, the route crosses the Snoqualmie highlands and then follows the Snoqualmie River valley. Not surprisingly, this route has only 1,500 feet ascent.

From Rattlesnake Lake, both routes hook up the the Iron Horse trail. Now that the way is found, it's time to plan the out-and-back. It should be approximately 100 miles (168KM), with 2,800 feet in altitude change. Ascent? Stay tuned!

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