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.