Rattlesnake Mt. Traverse

     I had done all parts of the Rattlesnake Mt. Trail but not all in one trip. This was a Thursday night Boeing hike. Gary, David, and I were going to hike one way from west to east and some of their friends were doing the East Peak. By meeting on top we had a ride back to our cars at the west trailhead. I left early and got started at 4:15. I planned to meet Gary and David at Grand Prospect. The hike started hot and humid. Two conditions I have not faced in many months. I hiked up to the East Peak from the west trailhead in mid April so I knew the trail was in fine shape. By rerouting the trail off of roads and rebuilding a route through the lower clear cut the trail has been markedly improved. I expected to have about a 45 minute head start. I started at a good pace and slowed a little higher up. After about 45 minutes some clouds appeared and the temperature dropped. A little breeze blew and the conditions became quite comfortable.

     Recent trail work was evident in a couple places. Just after crossing the creek there was a spot of slick clay that was very slippery. It has been covered with fresh dirt and is much better now. On my last trip here it was very cloudy with limited views. This time it was much clearer. I had several views north to the Cascades and also down to the Snoqualmie area. I reached Grand Prospect at 5:55. I covered the roughly 4 1/2 miles in 1:40. I had a bite to eat and did some reading when to my surprise Gary and David showed up only 20 minutes later. They started a little earlier than planned and reached Grand Prospect in 1:23 minutes. Since they were flying at that pace I was glad to have had a head start. After only about a 10 minute break they were raring to head on to the East Peak.

     Neither of them had ever been on the section between the peaks. My somewhat faulty memory was that it was fairly flat with some ups and downs between the peaks. It turned out that there was a lot more "ups" than "downs". We set a fast pace and maintained it all the way across. The route is a road until the middle tower is reached and then becomes a slightly overgrown road/trail the rest of the way. We cruised up to the east peak in 32 minutes from Grand Prospect. My watch showed a net gain of about 400'. The sign at the east peak says it is 2.7 miles to Grand Prospect. That number is way off. At the very most it is near 2 miles. We expected the other group to be waiting for us but in fact they were not there. One woman was leaving as we arrived and nobody was at the peak. A few minutes later one member of the other group arrived and shortly thereafter so did the rest.

     We brought headlamps in case we didn't make it out before dark. Since it was only about 7:00 on the east peak we knew we would get out before dark. Gary and David covered about 6 1/2 miles with 2600' gained in 1:55 hiking time. Not bad at all. The summit break was short and soon we were back on the move again. The others had come up the last section via the road or along the north side and then up. Nobody but me had taken the new trail down from the top. We crossed the road once and when we reached it again a short right on the road brought us back to the old trail. Now everyone was back on familiar trail. We passed the top and middle ledges then jetted right past the lower ledge. The new trail is nearly a mile longer down from the lower ledge so we kept moving to get out in daylight. On the last section we were passed by one runner and passed a group of several women. That was it for the crowds. That one long switchback seems to go on and on and on... We finally came out of the forest at Rattlesnake Lake. It was nice to get a ride back and not have had to shuttle our own cars around before hand.

     We were back at our cars with still a little bit of light left. The one way distance was about 11 miles with about 2600' gained. It was a pleasure to get to do a hike without retracing a step of the way. The company was great and the crowds were nonexistent. All in all it was a nice evening for a hike.