East Rattlesnake Mountain

Lots of snow had piled up late this week. Four feet at Stevens Pass. I was looking for an easy drive, some snow, but not to much of it. Rattlesnake fit the bill. Kim joined me. We were at the Rattlesnake Lake trailhead by 8:10 am. Only a couple other cars there. It rained much of the drive from Bellevue. I hoped to get high enough that the rain would be snow by the time it reached us. This trail is very gently graded. No flats but never steep. About half way up tot he ledges we could see some snow in the tree tops. It was below freezing and the snow was not melting and falling on us. The trail remained bare of snow in the forest nearly to the lower ledge. One group of two guys passed us going up and again as they headed down.

We took the short detour over to the ledge. Once out of the trees the ground was white. Visibility was minimal. I could almost see over to Mt. Si. Cedar Butte was a gray outline against a gray backdrop. Rattlesnake lake was visible right below us. Out of the trees there was also a breeze. Too cold to stay long. We headed on up the trail. At the upper ledge we stopped again. Nobody to be seen on the lower ledge. Above the upper ledge there was some snow on the trail in the forest. The dusting became a few inches in open spots. The feared rain storm never did occur. Just a little bit of occasional snowfall.

There were some footprints in the snow. As it grew deeper the footprints began to form a trench. At the first road crossing the snow was about 7-8 inches deep. We soon crossed the road again and began the last section to the top. The trees were now heavily flocked. They made for a mid winter scene. A single runner passed us heading down. That was it. We saw three people all the way up. Out of the trees near the summit the snow was now a foot deep. The trench was helpful. No snowshoes needed, at least for awhile longer. We detoured over to the tower. It was covered with a thick layer of ice. We stayed a ways away as falling ice would be lethal. It was windy back at the benches so we headed past the gate escape the chill. I'd guess the temperature was in the mid upper 20s.  There were tracks heading over towards Grand Prospect. No trail breaking for one way hikers.

It was about 11:35 am as we sat and ate lunch. A spaniel dog came running by heading towards Grand Prospect. It had  a red pack on and was trailing a red leash. I expected the owner to be right behind. Nobody was around. Nobody came. Two hikers soon reached the summit. I asked if it was their dog. They said it ran up to them a quarter mile down the trail then took off in the opposite direction. It remains a mystery. I hope the dog was heading back towards its owner. At noon we packed up and headed down.

The sitting really chilled us. Even with gloves and a jacket on top I grew cold. Heading downhill did not warm me up very fast. A short way down I had to stop and put on my heaviest gloves. That helped a lot. Our trip down was a little faster. The snow was never icy and I carried traction devices all the way up and down. A good freeze/thaw cycle would make the trench very slick. We passed one group heading up before reaching the ledges. The upper mountain was not a popular place this day. Somewhere around the upper ledge the temperature rose above freezing. The snowy trees began to rain. They rained pretty hard at times. I stopped at the upper ledge to find out that that it was not raining out of the forest. The visibility was now so minimal that I could not see the lower ledge.

As expected the traffic picked up a great deal from the lower ledge on down. Not like a typical winter weekend day but there were a dozen or so groups heading up and down. When the trees were no longer snow covered the rain did not stop. Real rain continued all the way down. I think I have had more rainy hikes in the last two months than in the previous two years. I guess it averages out over time. We reached the bottom at about 2:45 pm. Plenty of time to get home before 4:30 pm darkness.

This was a great hike. A normally very busy trail was not crowded at all. The snow conditions were ideal. None at the bottom and only a foot at the top. The previous tracks made it easy to walk in the snow. There was enough snow to really plaster everything up high. It looked like mid winter deep in the mountains not late fall right above North Bend. Kim did great as we hiked a little over 9 miles for the day with about 2600' of elevation gain. My snow photos turned out fine but my forest ones were mostly blurry. Definitely user error. They do tell the story however so they will be included in the photos.

Kim On The Trail
Lower Ledge
View Northeast
Upper Ledge Above
Kim On Lower Ledge
Upper Ledge View
Snow Plastered
Getting Deeper
Kim On Snow
Narrow Corridor
Snowy Trail
Icy Branches
Tightly Spaced Trees
Flocked Trees
Almost Winter Wonderland
Nearing Tower
Icy Tower
Rattlesnake Summit
Snowy Bench
Heading Down
Viewless Upper Ledge
Wet Trail
Mossy Green
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2012