Rainbow Lake

Daylight saving time ended Sunday morning. Since I gained an hour I planned to get an extra early start. It did not work out that way. I was finally on the road by 6:50 am. I arrived at the Pratt Trailhead at 7:40 am. I was a little surprised that the lot was only half full. In the time it took to put on my boots half a dozen more cars arrived. I was on the trail at 7:47 am. Two hikers started just behind me. They kept up for about 8 minutes then fell behind. I did not see them again. I set a good but not really fast pace. At 6:30 am a weather station in North Bend showed 37 degrees. One at Hyak just east of Snoqualmie Pass showed 26 degrees. On the drive it was in the low 40s until dropping to 37 degrees leaving North Bend. By the time I reached Exit 38 it was 50 degrees. By my exit 9 miles father it was down to 43 degrees. Much warmer than I planned. I had to stop and take off my light polypro layer as it warmed even more as I rose out of the valley bottom. For the first day of November it would be a rare sunny day.

I stopped to photograph a small waterfall and three hikers passed me.  A few minutes later two of them stepped off the trail and I went by. I never saw the one still ahead nor the two now behind. Lastly, a runner went by me and passed me again on his way back. That was it for the 5 1/2 miles to the lake. Not bad for a popular I-901 trail on a sunny fall day. At the Olallie Lake overview I had a good view of Mt. Rainier. It was in the clear. There was a total lack of fall color. Most all the leaves had already fallen. The few left were no color at all. I reached Rainbow Lake at 10:15 am. Nobody was there yet. It snowed a week earlier. I found just a few small patches of snow were left. The rest had all melted out.

My plan was to reach the lake and spent a few hours just laying around near the shore. I was tired and at first I nearly fell asleep. It was cool but not cold. I put on a jacket as there were some infrequent cool breezes. I heard a few voices as some other hikers reached the lake. It was an hour later when three groups descended on my lake shore spot at once. Two groups took a few photos and went on. A group of five spent an hour having lunch. They were doing a one way trip via mason and Talapus Lakes with a short car shuttle. The sun does not get very high in the sky this time of year. The low sun shone on the lake along with wind caused ripples. The result was continuous sparkles of light dancing on the water. I was intrigued enough to take both photos and a video clip of it. The best sparkle display I can recall seeing.

I did not pack up until 1:00 pm. I ended up spending 2:45 minutes at the lake. I often spend the day at Rainbow on hot summer days. This time it was a sunny fall day that barely reached 50 degrees. I was not in a big hurry heading back. I took a number of photos along the way. I passed a single hiker and a couple on the way back to the Pratt Lake junction. After that there were four or five more hiker sightings. All in all, it was never close to crowded. Face mask usage was almost universal. At the Granite Mountain junction I saw the second larger group of the day. Five folks were sitting and talking. I reached the trailhead at 3:26 pm. I took 2:28 minutes hiking in and 2:26 hiking back. I am consistent. The lot was about 60% full and there were more cars parking along the road back to the highway interchange. Most went to Granite Mountain I am sure. Not many went to Rainbow Lake.

This was a excellent day on the trail. I saw few folks over 11 miles with 2900' of elevation gain. Plenty of exercise. Rainbow has become much more crowded in the summer than it was even 5 or 6 years ago. In the spring when there is still a little snow or in the later fall it provides a bit of solitude. It is still one of my favorite hikes. One I do almost every year. One I will probably find myself at again next year.

Getting Started
Creek Crossing
Small Falls
More Cascades
Olallie Lake Overview
Moss Lined Trail
Largest Icy Snow
Mt. Defiance
Pratt Mountain
Rainbow Lake
Other End Of Lake
Sparkles On The Lake
Bandera Mountain
Camp Robber Jay
Mt. Defiance Again
More Moss
Boulder Field
Only Leaf Color
Island Lake
Back At Overlook
Big Tree
Tall Trees
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2020