Mt. Defiance

Gary was free and we decided to head east on a mid week after work hike. The Mason Lake Trailhead has become incredibly crowded on weekends with cars parking up to a mile down the logging road. We hoped for a much smaller crowd on a Wednesday afternoon. Also, the smoke was less of a problem than recently. We reached the parking lot at 2:35 pm to find it mostly full. The center was empty and there were a few spots open around the edges. By 2:43 pm we were packed up and on our way. It was a warm day but not as hot as we have been having. We chose to take the Old Mason Lake Trial. Shorter, much steeper, and less crowded. Part way up it I overheated. I had to stop and switch into shorts and short sleeves. Water helped to. I felt much better the rest of the way.

Just before the boulder field we caught up with a couple. They were the only folks we saw on the old trail. We popped up on the Mason Lake Trail just before the lake. We took a short stop at the lake outlet. The bugs were not much of a problem.  Back on the go we took a wrong turn towards Little Mason Lake. We instantly reached a meadow and it was clear this was not the way. We hiked very slowly on the old trail and picked it up when we met the Defiance Trail after the lake. Up the ridge then traversing across the open slope above I-90. The sky was partly blue but there was some smoke haze in the air. Not enough to affect breathing but enough to degrade distant views.

The last bit of trail up to the ridge is steep and rocky and Gary pulled ahead near the top. I arrived at 5:26 pm. With  a few stops and a slow pace we took 2:43 to reach the summit. We had about three hours left before it would be pitch black. With that in mind we took a nice break on top. So many peaks and lakes can be seen from the summit. Kulla Kulla, Mason, Little Mason, Blazer, Rainbow, and Island Lakes laid out to the east. Kaleetan, Chair, Three Queens, Alta, Granite Mountains too. Mt. Rainier had some clouds around it though the summit was mostly in the clear. We started down at about 6:00 pm. At the summit trial junction Gary pointed out a huge raven in a tree below us. There were still a few flowers in bloom on the open meadow part.

Down the ridge and back to Mason Lake we went. There were still a few folks at the lake. We decided to hike the longer but gentler Ira Spring Trial on the way down. We met a few folks still coming up. I thought we might see some hikers coming down from Bandera but we did not. We did pass a couple hikers just below the Bandera junction. That was about it. Just a long hike back down as the sun began to set. We reached the parking lot at 8:23 pm. We beat darkness by just a few minutes.

Soon our after work hikes will be much closer to town. While we still have daylight it was nice to get in a longer trip with 3600' of elevation gain. Our trip up the old trail seemed to have allowed us to miss a lot of people. There were a lot more cars than accounted for by the few folks we saw on the trail. The summit of Defiance is renowned for it's bugs but we had very few. It allowed for a longer stay on top. All in all, a very nice way to get in a fun hike in the middle of the week.

Parking Lot
Gary Ascending Trail
Flat Spot
On Trail
Putrid Pete's Peak
Mason Lake Break
Traversing Defiance
Under The Summit
Summit Spur
Gary On Summit
Kaleetan Peak
3 Queens & Alta Mt.
Big Shadow
Lakes Below
Mt. Rainier
Neat Clouds
Heading Down
Big Raven
Looking West
Back At Mason Lake
Clouds Over McClellan
Even More Clouds
Ira Spring Trail
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2018