Rainbow Lake

Saturday morning and time for a hike. I had a long drive figured for Sunday's hike so looked for a closer in destination. Rainbow Lake it would be. I was out the door by 7:00 am heading east. The day was supposed to be mostly sunny but the low clouds continued all the way to the Denny Creek exit off of I-90. I pulled into the Pratt Lake Trail lot to find... no parking spaces. The curved road out of the lot had cars all along it. I parked in sight of the interstate. I was about 8 or 9 cars back along the road. Up until a few years ago 7:00 am would have me in the lot almost every time. Close in trails are getting more crowded much earlier. By 7:54 I was on my way. As I hiked the first half mile I began to pass folks. I passed 5 groups for a total of 9 hikers. I was not going all that fast. By the time I reached the Granite Mountain junction I had passed 14 hikers. I was ahead of most of the crowd. I saw quite a few queen's cups in bloom. Lots of vanilla leaf and bunchberries too. There were even some columbine. I was quite surprised to see beargrass in bloom in the first mile. I don't recall seeing it so low.

There were two groups of hikers already coming down. Two runners passed me heading up. Otherwise, I had quite a bit of solitude now. I passed the turn off to Talapus and Olallie Lakes and continued up. Small creeks were still running and I saw a number of patches of marsh marigolds in bloom. Right at the Olallie Lake inlet creek I passed the last folks seen before Rainbow Lake. At the Olallie/Mt. Rainier overlook I stopped only for a few photos. The mountain was lost in the clouds. The once clear view of the lake now has some trees in the way. The best beargrass display was from here on around Olallie Lake. The best was near the overlook where there is more open sunshine. In the forest the beargrass was a bit farther behind.

It is too early for the nice wildflower display on the more open trail as it rounds Pratt Mountain. No Indian paintbrush or lupine yet but there was phlox in bloom. I thought there might still be a little snow on the shaded trail where it drops down into the valley of Rainbow and Island Lakes. I saw a little well off the trail but only near the lake did I have any on the trail. That will be gone very soon. Huckleberries are forming. Hopefully we will have a good crop this year. I arrived at Rainbow Lake at 10:16 am. Not a great time but still pretty early in the morning. The last mile was out in the open with blue sky above. Conditions at the lake were perfect. It was sunny in the mid/upper 60s with blue sky and a light cool breeze. I pulled up my rock recliner and laid down to enjoy.

I had an hour of solitude before folks started arriving. By 11:45 a group of boy scouts arrived at my spot. By noon I was ready to head back. I had 1 3/4 hours at the lake. I would be heading back before the crowds had all arrived. I was not in a big hurry heading back. A number of groups were still coming in but not as many as I feared. A number were backpacking. The clouds were all gone for the hike out. It was warm but not yet mid summer hot. I had noticed several spots with wild ginger leaves when hiking in. I stopped at them on the way out. Each had some flowers in bloom. I seldom see them and have never been able to identify their leaves. This spring has been different. This was the third time in four weeks I have found them flowering.

I reached the parking lot then headed up the road to my car. I arrived at 2:29 pm. There were openings in the parking lot but the line out of the lot went all the way to the intersection by the on ramp and across with cars parked on the other side. Easily the farthest I have ever seen cars park from the lot. I was home plenty early. The days of solitude at Rainbow are over. Still, with an early arrival I had some time alone. When the water level at Blazer Lake drops I can always hide out there. For the day I had just what I was looking for. A quick 11 mile hike with nearly two hours at the lake. All than and an early arrival at home. That gave me time to figure out where we would go on Sunday.

The Lot Was Full
Hiker Ahead
Queen's Cup
First Beargrass
Almost Open
Long Boardwalk
Vanilla Leaf
Marsh Marigolds
Olallie Lake
Getting Started
Great Display
Peak Over Clouds
Mt. Defiance In Clouds
Snow Patch
Rainbow Lake
Pratt Mountain
Bandera Over Lake
Defiance Is Clearing
Sun On Beargrass
Mt. Rainier
Wild Ginger
Another Beargrass
Small Falls
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2019