Mason Lake-Bandera Mountain

I joined Gary, John, and David for a hike to a lake and a summit. For the first time that I can recall, I had down four straight hikes to lakes. Gary had too. John had done three in a row. We would hike to Mason Lake then up Bandera Mountain and keep our streaks alive. We reached the trailhead at 2:42 pm. The lot was mostly full. That was not too surprising on a sunny Wednesday. We were on the trail at 2:50 pm. The temperature was in the low 60s. It was warm enough for me to start with short sleeves and zipped off pants legs. The trail heads up at a moderate grade. We turned off for a steeper ascent. Some coralroot saprophytes appeared in the dark forest. Mason Creek had a good flow. It made for some good photos. The steep grade slowed us down. We took a break at the creek crossing. After water and food we continued up. From the edge of the boulder field it gets very steep. I was glad to see the grade lessen. We reached the Ira Spring Trail just before Mason Lake. A short hike brought us to the lake outlet. The bugs were not yet bad. We could see snow high up on Bandera Mountain. We left the lake at 4:53 pm. I had my fifth straight lake trip in the bag. Now it was time to head for the summit.

We followed the trail up from the lake to the Ira Spring Memorial. From there we continued up the ridge and found the field of beargrass to have none flowering. We thought that they normally were flowering by mid June. Our 6-18-19 trip had lots of wildflowers including beargrass. This year the flowers seem to be a little early but that is not the case on Bandera. We stopped at the top of the ridge for views to the north and south. Mt. Rainier was very clear. To the north, I could see Kaleetan and Chair Peak. We headed up the ridge into forest and then steeply up to rocks and dirt and more rocks. We were back on the ridge top with views expanding as we ascended higher. There was some snow on top but it was on the north side of the ridge. We were able to miss all of it. One big raven sat on a tree above the route. He posed as we neared and took photos. He finally took off as we passed by. We had a look down the snow bank to Mason Lake and Mt. Defiance above it. Two hikers were sitting on the ridge top a little below the summit.

We passed the hikers and reached the top at 5:55 pm. 3:05 to the lake and summit is a very slow time. In 2019 we reached the top of Bandera in 2:12. This year we started earlier and we were fine with the time. We ate and drank while enjoying the views. Mt. Rainier and Adams were in sight. We saw phlox on the ridge but not much more. Trillium were on the trail below the ridge. At 6:10 pm we were on out way down. We traveled slowly as we admired the views. The last day lighting changed quickly. It as most apparent on Mt. Rainier. It was still very hazy to the west though clear in the other directions. I was pleased to get the steep stuff out of the way. We reached the Ira Spring Trail at 6:55 pm. It was time to pick up the pace. After seeing no flowering beargrass or much else higher up, I hoped to see at least a little on the lower open slopes. We did see a few beargrass partly open then a few Indian paintbrush. We have been talking for a few weeks about seeing the first tiger lily flower of the year. They are on the Ira Spring trail. At the most often seen spots we saw not a one. We will have to wait until next week.

The few flowers continued as we descended. Soon a few flowering lupine joined in. Someone noticed what I think are gnome plants. They are a saprophyte that I seldom see. They were too small to be sure but I think they were gnome plants. We passed three hikers coming up. That was surprising this late in the day. Otherwise, it was smooth sailing without seeing anyone else. The open slopes turned to forest and we had just a few more viewpoints coming down. The last mile took forever as it always does on this trail. I expected to see 2-4 cars in the lot when we returned at 8:32 pm. Well, not quite. There were 20 other cars in the lot. We could account for two groups. Where all the rest of them camping at Mason Lake on a Wednesday evening? That is a mystery I will not solve. It was still light but the sun was out of sight in the lot.

We had an easy drive back to Issaquah and an easy drive back to North Seattle. That is one benefit of a late return. For the day we hiked just under 7 miles with 3100' of elevation gain. We definitely had some steep and rocky trail. The views from up high were great. We did not see many people on trail. I pushed my consecutive lake hikes to five and through in a summit as well. Bandera can be a very hot hike on the open southern facing slope but on this mostly sunny day the temperature was not a problem. We had great conditions for a mid-week hike in the mountains.

McClellan Butte
Gary On Trail
Hiking Alongside Creek
Boulder Field
John On Rocky Trail
Putrid Pete's Peak
Mason Lake
View Of Mt. Defiance
Mt. Rainier In Sight
Closer Mt. Rainier
Trail Below Ridge Top
Kaleetan & Chair Peaks
David On The Rocks
PPP & Mt. Defiance
Gary & John Ahead
The Raven
Rocky Ridge Route
Cascade Crest Peaks
Chair Peak
Kaleetan Peak
Mason Lake & Defiance
Hazy To The West
Summit Ridge
Wide Angle View SW
Mt. Adams - 12,281'
Neat Cloud
Mt. Rainier From Summit
Heading Down
Hiking Summit Ridge
Gary & Mt. Rainier
Descending Rocks
Lit Up Fir Cone
First Blooming Beargrass
Indian Paintbrush
Perfect Paintbrush
Paintbrush & Beargrass
Gnome Plant
Many Beargrass
Vanilla Leaf
Blooming Beargrass
Guys On Bridge
Mason Creek Cascade
20 Cars In Lot - 8:30 pm
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2024