Mason Lake

Time for one last hike to end the first half of the year. John and his Boeing group were heading for Mason Lake. Lauren hiked Bandera Mountain the day before and showed photos of a terrific beargrass display on a misty cloudy day. This day would be sunny and warm. It was time for a trip to Mason Lake on the Ira Spring Trail. The route crosses part of the beargrass display on the open slopes of Bandera Mountain. I need to get out of town before traffic makes it very difficult. I was on the road by 2:40 pm. The Boeing group meets in Issaquah at 4:15 pm. I planned to arrive early and meet them somewhere along the way. The gravel road to the Ira Spring trailhead was in the best condition that I can ever recall. It must have been very recently graded. At least for now, there are no pot holes.

The parking lot fills up very early on weekends. Cars park up to nearly two miles away along the road. I had not intention of seeing the beargrass on a weekend. As it was, I arrived at 4:05 pm to find the lot nearly full. Only a few cars were parked along the road. By 4:10 pm I was on the trail. In all my years hiking I have forgotten just about everything in my pack at least once. Usually when I hurry to get my gear together. Like this day. It was immediately clear that my pack was awfully light. Yep, the only water in the bottles was a few ounces left over from my last hike. I was not going to head straight home. I'd just hike a bit slower to keep cooler.

The old road section is a steady ascent. John and his group were planning to go up the old Mason Lake Trail. It is in dark forest and much cooler though shorter and steeper. I chose to stay on the Ira Spring Trail to see the wildflowers in both directions. I saw twinflower down low and a few queens cup flowers. Lupine and paintbrush were next. Most of the first few miles were mostly in forest. That helped me keep cooler as the day warmed. On the way up nobody passed me even at a moderately slow pace. I did see about twenty or more hikers coming down. Beargrass began at about the two mile mark. It became thicker as I kept going up the trail.

I finally had a bit of a breeze which was most welcome. The beargrass was just a little before its peak. Almost none were finished yet. I slowed down even more as the camera came out. In places the beargrass goes right up the mountain for as far as you can see. Some years are good and some are really good. I'd call this a really good beargrass year. I stopped at the junction of the trail up Bandera. Going up just a short way I had great views of a field of yellow dots on the green grassy mountainside. I even saw a few tiger lilies in bloom here. Views out were pretty good. Mt. Rainier was in site though a narrow line of clouds lined the bottom of the peak. Soon I was heading on to Mason Lake. The last traverse on the open slope provided more Indian paintbrush and lupine.

Where the trail drops into forest the temperature dropped noticeably. It was much cooler on the last part to Mason Lake. Bugs were also more noticeable. Not mid summer bad but not bug free either. I reached Mason Lake at 6:00 pm. I only saw one other person from the outlet. I took a food and a little water break. The lake was very flat as there was no breeze. That allowed the bugs to zero in on me. I hoped John would soon arrive. By 6:05 pm I had enough of the bugs and headed back. Above the lake I took a short break and the bugs did not seem to be a problem. I popped back into the sunshine and waited on the rocks. Great views from there. I headed up the Bandera Trail a short way once again. The beargrass is always best above this spot. I finally decided to head down at 7:15 pm. I wanted to get home by dark. A minute later I saw John and his group coming down the trail a switchback above me.

We headed down together. I did not take many more photos on the rest of the descent. We made it back to the car just after 8:30 pm. The traffic was much lighter at that hour and I arrived home just after dark at 9:40 pm. This hike was only 7 miles with 2400' of gain. It included a nice mountain lake, some great views from the open upper slopes, and a terrific wildflower display. The beargrass was by far the star of that show. It was especially nice to do the hike without the hordes seen on any weekend. The graded road was much appreciated. A very good mid week after work hike.
Mason Creek Bridge
Orange Paintbrush
Red Paintbrush
Beargrass Begins
Multiple Beargrass
Beargrass Close Up
Boulder Field
Getting Thicker
Mt. Defiance
Blue Sky Above
Trail Junction
Terrific Beargrass!
More Beargrass
Putrid Pete's Peak
Trio Of Paintbrush
Sunlit Beargrass
Mason Lake
False Hellebore
Mt. Rainier
A Little Greener
Berries Coming
Beargrass & Mt. Rainier
All Lit Up
Beargrass Ball
Great Color
Closer Look
Beautiful Slope
Tiger Lilies & Beargrass
Last Beargrass Shot
Hazy To The West
Mason Creek Falls
Almost Dark At Car
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2017