Tour report for Square Lake and Long Lake
By, Bob Young
This is a loop I have wanted to do for a number of years. 2 years ago I lead a tour to do this but we ended up taking the Square lake trail out and back because of some fairly deep snow and trail breaking. This Saturday conditions were more promising, though it was misting starting out, and 6 of us, Jim, Conor, Bianca, Fiona, Dayna, and I headed up the PCT to a saddle above Square at 5400 feet and did the 600 foot drop to Square at 4800. This can be a fun descent depending on snow conditions. Today the snow was very heavy as the mist had turned it to Cascade cement. Perfect for killer snowballs but not so good for turning. From here we picked up the trail to Long Lake, another 200 foot drop. Weather had moderated and we even had a couple of near sun breaks. At least no more rain.
For the climb back out we split into 2 groups of 3. Jim, Conor, and Fiona skied to the end of Long before retracing the trail back to Square. The rest of us tried to cross the creek to the north facing slope but the tangle of logs and small trees made that impossible. We did eventually cross before getting to Square and climbed to the notch near the official trail and started breaking track back towards the PCT trail head. The other 3 caught up with us fairly quickly and must have had an easier route. The rest of the return was fairly easy with mostly gentle downhill which is a good thing since the snow remained very sticky and heavy. Had to maxiglide twice to keep moving. This was one of the most physically demanding tours I’ve done in a long time and I think we were all sufficiently tired by the time we got back. I may do it again but it will definitely be on better snow. A great place to get views, terrain, and definitely get away from the other people out there.