Rattlesnake Mountain Traverse
We wanted to get in some mileage and elevation gain
and still get home early. Suzanne accompanied me. I suggested a one way traverse
of Rattlesnake Mountain. I had done it west to east but not the other way.
With high east winds forecast I wanted a tailwind as well. We left a car
at the west trailhead and drove around to Rattlesnake Lake. We were on the
trail by about 8:40 with two groups just behind us.
There was some wind on the lower trail but not much. By the time we reached
the lower ledge it was picking up. We saw a couple groups already heading
down. Most of the way to the east peak was in forest and it worked as a good
wind block. The first solid snow was at about 3000' near where the road is
crossed. The road is the old route to the summit but trail was completed
about a year ago. The Rattlesnake Mountain Trail is in fact now all trail
the whole 11 mile distance.
Atop the east peak the wind was really howling. The snow was not deep but
it was frozen solid. I was surpirsed to see a few sets of footprints all
the way over to the west peak. The ridge crest trail was well protected from
the worst of the wind but it was howling loudly. We passed the middle towers
and then reached the turnoff to Grand Prospect. Rather than go that way we
followed the road all the way to the top of the west peak.
On top of the peak it was all snow covered. The wind blowing through the
tallest tower sounded just like a jet airliner. Talking became difficult
as the wind noise was very loud. A quick drop down to Grand Prospect gave
us clear views out to Si, Teneriffe, Mailbox, and Mt. Baker. By now the wind
was at least 25 mph steady with gusts to over 40 and maybe more.
Our descent was fast. Within 1/4 mile we were off of the snow. The trail
is in fine shape with only one log down and it was easy to step over. Two
hikers and a runner were seen ascending to the west peak. Near the last clear
cut a gust of wind nearly knocked me over. That was the biggest of the day.
Back in the woods and the wind was not too bad. It was 35 degrees when we
started, 35 at the east peak, and 35 at the west peak. I have no idea what
the wind chill was but it was chilly. The descent took only 1:15.
The weather conditions added some excitement to an otherwise routine outing.
It was nice to get in 11 miles with 2800' gained on a one way trip so close
to Seattle. When we drove back to Rattlesnake Lake one of the groups that
started just behind us was just returning from the east peak. It was a nice
day for a walk in the foothills.