Rainbow Lake

I was still feeling a little under the weather but only three miles short of a 100 mile month. Low clouds over Seattle not burning off until later afternoon. I headed up for an easy hike to a favorite lake. It was already 8:30 am when I reached the Pratt Lake trailhead. The lot was nearly full. It was overcast but a very pleasant temperature. I had seen trip reports showing the big avalanche that came down in the winter. At the half mile point the trail makes a switchback to the left. As I approached the big difference was the forest was gone. Lots of light gets in now. Work has been done to reopen the old trail where it was buried under down trees. For now a flagged route goes almost straight up to reacquire the old trail. A number of logs have been cut out. More remain to be cut. The avalanche did open views up the creek to a waterfall. Many years ago, the trail used to fork with one side being the main trail and another cutting over to the creek. I always wondered if it just went to the water source or if it was a prior trail coming up.

After that it was back to the forested trail I have hiked so many times before. I passed one group heading up and several more coming down. Three or four groups total were coming down as I went up. I did not pass or catch anyone else going up. Just short of one mile in I went left at the Granite Mountain junction. That took care of all the crowds for the day.  The trail is in fine shape with no logs uncut and very little mud. All the creek crossings were easy rock hops.

After crossing the Olallie Lake inlet creek the route flattens as it traverses the ridge from Granite to Pratt Mountains. I stopped at the Olallie Lake overlook. At the rate the trees are growing, it will not be a lake view for many more years. Mt. Rainier was lost in the clouds. There used to be an old metal 4 mile marker here. It was still only 10:10 am.  There are some beargrass blooming here but even more are past prime. The next mile and a half to Rainbow Lake traverses around Pratt Mountain. The wildflowers are still going strong along the way. Lupine, Indian paintbrush, tiger lilies, and phlox predominantly.

Zero snow on the trial though there is still a little in the trees near the lakes. The route hits the high point then descends to the lakes basin. At the viewpoint for Mt. Defiance there were clouds all along the south side but the summit was clear. In fact, the clouds had broken overhead. It was now mostly sunny. In short order I passed the junction with the trail to Island Lake and dropped into the meadow. Lots of berries but they are still in the initial translucent stage. I hope they have time to ripen before the snow falls. Definitely behind schedule. It was 11:05 am when I reached Rainbow Lake. Just a small snow patch on the other side. There were a few flies but no mosquitoes or any other biting bugs. Just about perfect for a nice long stay.

A little food, water, and sunscreen and I was set. Perfect temperature and a gentle cool breeze. So much nicer than a cloudy day in Seattle. I spent nearly two hours lounging at the lake. Might have even managed a short nap. Until near the end I saw nobody else. Two hikers did drop in for a minute then continue on. At 1:00 pm I decided to check out the abandoned trail to Blazer Lake. I crossed the outlet creek and immediately turned right. The path is getting overgrown here. It quickly drops to a crossing of a side creek at a wide spot. The old log has broken. Instead I turned left and crossed the creek. Marsh marigold blooms covered the wet area as usual after the snow melts. The path is hard to see at first in the low huckleberry bushes.

In just one year the brush really grew. The trail was much brushier than I expected. A quick bit of brushing turned into 1 1/2 hours. The route is now clear down to the old washout and around my detour route. I did not drop down to the lake. That should take care of it for another year or two. Back at Rainbow Lake it was now hot and humid. Time for the uphill climb out of the valley. Looking back to Mt. Defiance, the clouds were still nipping at the summit on the south side. Clouds were beginning to build once again. The trip down was much cooler. I saw a few groups still hiking in but it was pretty quite on the way down.

It only took two hours to hike out. I was back at my car by 4:30 pm. The lot was still mostly full but now there were 35 cars parked outside the lot along the road. Granite Mountain must have been crowded all day but my trip was far from it. Amazing to have solitude on a hike that starts right along I-90. The hike was a good antidote to five days under the weather and
in my house.

Avalanche Damage
New Views
Back On Trail
Newly Visible Waterfall
Cascading Creek
"Tropical" Falls
Shades Of Green
Gray Morning
Olallie Lake
Grassy Trail
Indian Paintbrush
Tiger Lilies & Ferns
Island Lake
Cloudy Mt. Defiance
Lakes Junction
Approaching Rainbow
Meadow & Pratt Mt.
Rainbow Lake
Very Bright
Blazer Lake
Kaleetan Peak
Old Blaze
Reclaiming Trail
Small Pond
Tiger Lilies
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2012