Rainbow And Blazer Lakes

     This is a very nice hike in the spring when the basin is still covered in snow. It is great in the fall when Rainbow Meadow is flaming and the berries are ripe. I seldom visit it in the summer. After long drives the last few weekends I decided to do a close in hike. The forecast for possible afternoon thundershowers also affected my decision. I was able to sleep in for a change and still arrive at the Pratt trailhead at 8:15. I managed to forget my watch this day so I had no idea of the time until I returned to the car. It was already in the high 60's at that hour and warming rapidly. The trail is in great shape with one exception. Horses have recently been on the trail. I don't know if it was related to the search and rescue effort last week or not. The horse(s) managed to dump every quarter mile or so all the way to the Pratt Lake turnoff. They also had dozens of postholes that were up to 8 inches or more deep. I have never seen or heard of horses on this trail before.

     As usual, most people were going to Granite Mountain. After seeing one person at the Granite turnoff I saw nobody else until I reached Rainbow Lake. When I reached the Olallie Lake overlook the sky was still blue. Even Rainier had no clouds nearby. I was a little late for the best view of Mt. Rainier over Olallie but it was still nice with just a little glare. The biggest surprise of the hike was the amount of blooming flowers. This is not a great flower hike but the color was about as good as it get there. I saw lupine, paintbrush, tiger lilies, queens cup, some interesting yellow flowers, phlox, heather, and more. The best flowers were between the Pratt Lake turnoff and Rainbow Lake. The best flower of all was beargrass. It was all over in the valley near Rainbow Lake.

     I met two fishermen when I reached the lake. They were thinking about going on to Pratt until I told them about Blazer. I wanted to do some brushing so I led them over to the lake. The trail has really become overgrown in the two years since I brushed it. I led them around where the trail sloughed down the hill and let them do the final descent to the lake. I did some brushing on my way back up and then returned to Rainbow. The day was already hot and the hoped for wind in the valley never materialized. There was also no shade. The water was not even cold. Later a family arrived and they all went swimming. I heard no complaints about the water being cold. Within an hour the first clouds began to blow in. When they temporarily covered the sun the temperature dropped to a much more comfortable level. A few minutes later it was blazing hot again. Without a watch I have no idea how long I stayed at the lake. I would guess it was about 2 1/2 hours. I didn't notice mosquitos at the lake but there were quite a few flies. This was only the second hike this year where there were enough to be annoying. I guess I better get used to it.

     The trip back was much slower than the hike in. I was in no hurry to get back to town. I was passed by two groups of trail runners but saw only a few groups of hikers before the Granite Mountain turnoff. The clouds thickened on the way back but it became very humid. I have seldom seen it like that on the western slopes. The parking lot was 3/4 empty in the morning but was filled to overflowing in the late afternoon. I would hate to have had a late start for Granite Mountain this day. It was a very leisurely 11 miles with 300' of elevation gain. I'll likely be back in the fall for the colors and the berries.

Photos Coming Soon!!