Rainbow Lake

Janet wanted to get out for an overnight backpacking trip. She suggested camping on the summit of Hannegan Peak. A great idea. After I camped atop Iron Peak in May one more summit camp sounded good. Then the forecast started to turn down. Sunny became a 40% chance of rain. That meant we might not have any views. A long drive and a climb to the top without views. We decided to change the destination. I have hiked to Rainbow Lake for than 35 time  in the past 35 years. I had never camped there. That became the new destination. We left North Seattle just after 7:00 am and headed east. We arrived at the Pratt Lake/Granite Mountain trailhead at 8:10 am. The lot was already full and we parked along the side of the access road. There were several big groups getting ready to go. We were on the trail at 8:21 am.

I expected lots of folks in the first mile. I was not disappointed. The crowds thinned after the Granite Mountain junction. It was mostly sunny but the forest is thick enough to make it much cooler. As we hiked up the trail saprophytes appeared. The last few weeks I have seen a whole lot of them in the Suiattle River Valley. That is expected. Seeing a wide variety of them on the Pratt Lake Trail is most assuredly not usual. This seems to be a banner year. Coralroot appeared first. next were some pinedrops then some pinesap. I have seen more of that in the last three weeks than over many years. Janet noticed a small bright reddish plant right on the edge of the trail. It was very colorful. Definitely some kind of saprophyte. A short way later we saw a big patch of white ones. Checking after the trip they seem to be pine fringed pinesap.

We took a short break at the Olallie Lake Overview. What was once a great view of the lake has closed down to a small view as trees have grown. On the traverse around Pratt Mountain we began to see beargrass. First it was done blooming then farther on it was still in bloom. It became better and better all the way to Rainbow Lake. On the south side of Pratt we had a variety of wildflowers in bloom. Penstemon, Indian paintbrush, a little lupine, phlox, and tiger lilies and more. Some clouds blocked a lot of the sun on this open slope. From the high point we dropped down into the valley.

The beargrass improved as mentioned earlier. The berry crop looks to be about average. We arrived at Rainbow Lake to find two tents at the lakeside spot I usually visit. We continued around the lake. One spot was not big enough for two tents. The next one was farther from the lake but was plenty big enough. It was in sad shape. Someone defecated on a small rock right in the site. Why would anyone do that? There was a lot of toilet paper strewn around too. We left the site in much better shape than we found. it. Five minutes later one group then another showed up looking for campsites. We nabbed ours with little time to spare. After getting our tents up we headed back to the trail to Island Lake. I visited Island on my first visit some 30+ years ago. A few years later I returned. I had not been back since then.

The trail passes several ponds. There was also a lot of blooming beargrass along the way. We arrived at the lake to find one campsite taken. We crossed the outlet and found a good spot looking across the lake. There was one guy already there. A trail went to another campsite and I looked for another spot farther along that had lake access. No good places were found. We went back and the guy was gone. It was about 1:15 pm. We saw some ducks in the lake. we saw some humans in the lake. A hammock went up across the lake then came down. We laid back and enjoyed some sun and shade and a cool breeze. About the best place to be on a sunny July day. We finally headed back at 5:35 pm. A very long stay at the lake.

After dinner we took a short trip over to Sir Richard's Pond. We found more beargrass and some blooming heather along the way. The sun was setting as we arrived. There was one tent in sight at the pond. We headed back and Janet turned in. I made one more trip to the Blazer Lake Overlook. The abandoned trail from the Rainbow Lake outlet was a little overgrown in the meadow but in pretty good shape overall. Blazer Lake looked good. Kaleetan Peak is right above the lake. There were some marsh marigolds in bloom in the meadow but not very many. On the short walk back to our campsite I had a look at Kaleetan Peak with alpenglow shining. The bugs were minimal while we hiked in but moderately bad at Rainbow Lake. I was glad to head into my tent. The night was cool enough to sleep well but far from cold.

We arose at 7:45 am and were packed up and on our way by 9:00 am. It was a nice cool morning for the climb out of the valley. There were low clouds over the valley at first and it was only partly gone when we hiked out. We saw only a few folks before reaching the Pratt Lake junction. Quite a few other folks were hiking out in the morning. We also met a number of groups day hiking in. We made a number of photo stops. Janet found several wild ginger flowers in bloom. We found many more that had not yet opened. In a week or so there will be a lot of them in bloom. Two of the three red fringed pinesaps. had been torn out. At least we had photos from the hike in. We reached the parking lot at 12:38 pm. Not a fast pace out but still very early in the day. At that hour the drive home was easy.

After so many day trips to Rainbow Lake it was fun to spend a night there. It was also my first trip to Island Lake in decades. Island turned out to be better than I recalled. The bugs were a bit of a pain but with some repellent they were kept at bay for the most part. Far from the worst and no biting flies. The way our campsite was found was disappointing but it now looks fine. Considering how close to Seattle the lakes are we had quite a bit of solitude on the trail and at our  campsite. I would have liked to camp atop Hannegan Peak but this trip was a very nice substitute and the weather was really great. We both had a very good time.

Reddish Fringed Pinesap
Pale Fringed Pinesap
Wild Ginger
Long Boardwalk
Pratt Lake Trail
Queen's Cup
Colorful Leaves
Indian Paintbrush
Tiger Lily
Beargrass Blooming
Beargrass Along Trail
Mt. Defiance
Rainbow Lake
More Beargrass
Island Lake
Talapus Lake
Pond Reflection
Lit Up Beargrass
Beargrass On Fire
About To Bloom
Back At Rainbow
Kaleetan Peak
Pratt Mountain
Sir Richard's Pond
Marsh Marigold
Kaleetan Alpenglow
Bright Heather
Blazer Lake
Cloudy Morning
Triple Beargrass
Cloudy Rainbow Lake
Heading Out
Clouds Over Valley
Glowing Paintbrush
Double Tiger Lilies
Line Tiger Lily
More Clouds
Beargrass Coralroot
More Pinesap
Slime Mold
Yellow Monkey Flower
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2017