Rainbow Lake

I found myself alone this day and not very motivated. I did not get out of the house until 8:30 as I just couldn't get going.  I also couldn't spend a sunny summer day in town. I chose to visit an old favorite in Rainbow Lake. Reports were that there was still snow after the Talapus/Olallie turnoff on the Pratt Lake Trail. The section of the Defiance Trail along the south side of Pratt Mountain melts out much earlier. I expected that to be bare and for there still to be snow in the basin of Island and Rainbow Lakes.

I pulled into the Pratt/Granite lot at 9:30. There were already more than half a dozen cars parked outside the lot. Fortunately I did find a spot in the lot. Well, with a late start on a busy trail I did not expect to be alone. The forecast called for mid 70s at Snoqualmie Pass but it was already getting warm. I soon passed two hikers and they were the only ones on the way up. I did pass at least half a dozen backpacker groups coming down.

I knew my camera batteries were running down but I checked in the morning and they worked fine. The first time I powered up the camera on the trail the lens would not extend and the screen flashed "change batteries". Damn, there were more flowers than I expected. Oh well... I passed the vanilla leaf, violets, trillium, tiger lilies, bunchberries, and marsh marigolds higher up.

A ways beyond the Talapus turnoff I did reach snow. About where I would expect to find it in early June. The route was easy to follow. The crossing of the Olallie inlet stream was no problem. There was a little snow to climb down to the creek. I met more backpackers here and they said the snow was about to end until dropping down to Rainbow Lake. In fact the snow completely disappeared not far ahead.

At the Olallie Lake overlook there was some beargrass in bloom. Mt. Rainier had a few clouds around it. I pulled out my camera for the heck of it and of course it now worked flawlessly. In fact, I managed another 50 photos though the batteries were close to finished. I continued on the dirt trail to the high point and as I began to drop the snow began again. I could look across the valley to Island Lake and see it was still snow covered.

The route down was 2/3 snow and 1/3 dirt. I found the turnoff to Island Lake and a little farther was Rainbow Lake. The lake is still more than half frozen though it is melting out fast. Another week and the ice will be gone. I stopped at my usual spot on the shore. It was really hot now and I found a small spot of shade to rest. It was nearly noon and time for lunch. I spent over two hours at the lake and nobody else came by. Hard to imagine considering all the cars in the lot. Sometimes a little snow can provide some solitude.

It was obvious that the forecast was way off as it was well over 80 degrees by 2:15. The route back starts with a 300' climb back out of the valley. It was well above my heat comfort level. On the way back I passed more than a dozen folks hiking up and a few more heading down. More like I would expect on this trail. The trail is in forest most all the way and was much cooler than at the lake.

Since it was not supposed to be all that hot I took my fuel efficient Saturn without air conditioning. As I drove through Eastgate I saw the auto dealer sign flashing 90 degrees. Nothing like a black interior and no air conditioning on a 90 degree day. Well I survived that and had a very nice day. Sitting by a snowy lake is not such a bad place to be on a hot summer day.


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Trips - 2008