Bandera Mountain

After a number of weeks without a midweek after work hike we were back at it. I had not been up Bandera in a little over 2 years. I met Gary and John at High Point at 2:57 pm and were on our way east a few minutes later. We left I-90 and drove up the dirt  road to the Mason Lake/Bandera Mt trailhead. Reports this year told of a very badly pot holed road. The first part was a little bad. The last mile or so was much worse. Very slow going. We arrived to find a dozen or so cars still in the lat at 3:37 pm.  We were on our way at 3:43 pm. It was 78 degrees in Issaquah. It was only 72 at the trailhead. Warm but not too hot at the heat of the day. The route was in shade most all the way to near the top of Bandera. Though there was not a lot of water in the creek the falls by the bridge was flowing. Shortly thereafter we headed up the Old Mason Lake Trail.

As we climbed the humidity really rose. I was feeling it worse than the others. Water rolling down my face and no evaporation. It was all I could do to keep up at a moderate pace. A water break at the start of the boulder field helped. The humidity also began to lessen. Very good news for me. We saw one person on the main trail and to our surprise met two more hiking down the old trail. Later we would see two more folks for a total of five hikers seen. Not bad for an I-90 hike on a sunny day. Well not entirely sunny. It was mostly overcast but with good views of close peaks. Mt. Rainier was nowhere to be seen in the wall of white to the south. Gary has had a bit of a sore knee. John had not been out hiking in weeks, and the humidity slowed me. It was one of our slowest hikes up a very steep trail. We finally met the trail near Mason Lake. Usually we take the short detour to the lake. This day we were fine turning right and missing the lake.

We climbed up to the ridge where the memorial to Ira Spring is located. We headed up the ridge from there. At the top of the ridge the trail turns right and continues higher. There were some very tasty huckleberries along the upper route. We now had good views out to the closer peaks. A little forest and some climbing up rocks brought us to the upper ridge. More slow hiking on the rock and slab route.  We finally reached the top at 6:00 pm. 3.2 miles in 2:17. Not a fast pace. We did climb about 3000' though and the first .90 miles only gained 400'. The next 2.3 mies gained 2600'. The wind was light and it was much cooler on top. I changed into a dry long sleeve shirt for the rest of the hike. We had nice views to the south while we ate dinner.

We packed up and started down at 6:21 pm. We had just over two hours before darkness set in. It has been quite a while since we needed headlamps. The steep rocky part was slow to descend. We also stopped for a few more huckleberries. Our pace improved when we reached the Ira Spring Trail. It was much easier on our knees too. The rest of the descent was pretty non eventful. We did pass the couple with a dog mentioned earlier. There were a few Indian paintbrush still in bloom. I had seen a harebell blooming near the top too. I noticed a fern right along the trail. One side was yellow like the surrounding ferns. The other side was completely green. The colors spit along the centerline of the fern. Really unusual and neat to see.

By the time we reached the bottom of the Old Mason Lake Trail the light was dimming quick. We made it back to the car without needing headlamps though not by much. We reached the trailhead at 8:32 pm. We hiked down 3.5 miles in 2:11. On the drive out we saw  a car in a pullout with a tent up. A strange place to camp. The next two pullouts also had cars in them though no tents. They were empty when we drove in. It was fell past darkness when we reached High Point. I did not get home until 9:40 pm. A lane closure and slowdown on I-5 in Seattle.

It was nice to get out on a mid week evening hike again with the guys. Bandera is a steep though not long climb. The humidity was not fun at all but it dissipated as we climbed. The amount of solitude on a busy trail was most enjoyable. All in all, a great evening in the mountains as the summer comes towards the end.

Heading Out
Old Mason Lake Trail
Little Brush
Getting Steeper
Ira Spring Memorial
Bandera Mt. Trail
View West
View East
Up The Rocks
Summit Ridge
View North
Near Summit
Putrid Pete's Peak
Starting Down
Mason Lake
Along The Ridge
Neat Clouds
Eating Berries
Colors Over McClellan
Butte & Clouds
Indian Paintbrush
Talus Field
Bi-colored Fern
Even Better Colors
More Saprophytes
Almost Dark
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2021