I didn't have
time for a long drive so I settled on an old favorite. I had not been
up to the East Peak and back down in a decade. I have done a number of
one way trips from end to end on the Rattlesnake Mountain Trail but not
up and down from Rattlesnake Lake. I was surprised to find a number of
empty spaces in the paved hikers lot at 9:15 am. There was a little
snow at the trailhead so I took my snowshoes. The lake itself is snow
free and almost water free too. I have seen it low but not this low.
The trail is very gentle as it gains 1150" over two miles to the lower
I passed several groups already coming down and a few heading up. The
lower trail was snow free though there was a little at the ledge. I
took a short break at the lower ledge. Low clouds all around but the
sky was mostly blue. I was soon on my way higher. I took another break
at the upper ledge. My camera batteries did not like the cold and
refused to extend the lens. I warmed them in my hand and they worked
for the rest of the day. Lots of color photos that look like black and
white. It will be that way for many months.
Above the upper ledge the newest trail reroute began. Instead of the
old route straight up the ridge it now goes far to the left and
switchbacks to the right. This is longer but much gentler. I caught up
with two hikers with whom I played leap frog the rest of the way to the
summit. One of them was always ahead and I was second or third in line.
Snow began soon after the upper ledge and slowly deepened. There were a
few footprints before ours. It snowed the day before covering any older
I recognized the old quarry and a few minutes later we reached the
road. Snow was about 8 inches deep on the road. It was a little thinner
back on trail though the trail was built very wide through here and
there are not many trees overhead to catch snow. Coming out of the
trees just below the summit ridge the snow was now a foot deep. If I
had any distance to go I would have put on the snowshoes. As it was I
carried them up and down. The rest of the group of the two hikers I was
near coming up were having lunch where the road reaches the ridge. I
continued over to the tower.
A few postholes here were more than knee deep. The snow was
unconsolidated so ever step was a posthole. I had lunch and headed
down. The other group was still enjoying their break. They were not
enjoying any views because there were none. Clouds were all around us
on the summit. The trip down was much faster. About 2 1/2 hours up and
1 3/4 down. With all the changes to the trail in the decade since my
last time on this route it's hard to figure the distance. The first
mile is now two and the switchbacks above the upper ledge must add
about 1/4 to 1/2 mile. I'm guessing it is a little more than 9 miles
round trip now.
Coming down from the lower ledge I decided to count the hikers I
passed. The two miles took about 40 minutes in which time I went by 84
people. This is November and it was below freezing most of the day so
I'm sure that was well below average for this trail. Solitude is not a
reason to be on this trail. It turned out to be a fun hike. Heavily
flocked trees up high and steps to follow in the snow. Not much of a
crowd above the lower ledge. A little sunshine to brighten up the day.
Not bad for a close in trip.
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.
Si & Teneriffe
Chester Morse Lake
Mailbox In Clouds
Snow On Ridge
Nearly Empty Lake
Trips - 2009