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!!