Olallie Lake

John joined me for an after work hike on Wednesday. I would be back helping Bob re-roof his house on Thursday so I wanted a smooth trail without too much elevation gain. This has been a very poor month for hiking so I wanted to get in some distance and elevation. Our compromise destination proved to be a very good choice. We met at the High Point exit at 3:30 pm and headed east. We were hoping there might be space to park in the lot at the Pratt Lake Trailhead. If it was too crowded with folks doing Granite Mountain we had Annette Lake as a backup. It was a sunny day so a Granite Mountain crowd was expected. Driving up there were no cars parked along the road from the interchange. In fact, there were exactly five other cars in the lot. One left before we started hiking. Where was everybody. Solitude was assured. We saw two folks in the first half hour then a big group in the last mile coming out. That was it for the day.

We arrived at the trailhead at 3:45 pm and were on the trail at 3:50 pm. The boxes with wilderness permits were not in place. Perhaps they are just late this year or it might be because of the pandemic. John set a fast pace and I kept up. The entire route is in forest and though it is south facing it was never very hot. We plowed ahead not noticing much in the way of wildflowers. We did notice a number of mushrooms that came up recently. The big creek crossing was interesting. Not scary high water but it took careful boot placement to get across with dry feet. There is still snow to melt high on Granite Mountain.

We passed two solo hikers and that was it for nearly four hours. The big cove with several falls was running very well. This was a photo stop. I must have several hundred photos of this spot from all seasons. The trail leaves I-90 and heads into the valley of Talapus and Olallie Lakes. We started to see blooming marsh marigolds here. At the junction with the trail down to Olallie and Talapus Lakes we turned left and began to descend. Before reaching the Olallie Lake outlet creek we found snow. Quite a bit of it down near the creek. Many years ago there was a bridge over the creek. After it was washed away it was not replaced for several decades. Since my last time here it was been replaced. Lots of water in the creek. A rock hop would have been challenging. On the other side it was snowy but we easily picked up the trail to Olallie Lake. The snow became intermittent.

Nearing the lake we met a new trail coming in from our left. This is now the trail from Talapus Lake. More trail work since my last time on that trail. At the lake we descended to the shore for some photos. Snow on the opposite shore but not much appearing up towards the ridge. That would be our next destination. We continued down the lake with another stop at a viewpoint by the shore near the north end. We continued around the north end and found the boot path up to the Pratt Lake Trail above us. There was some snow lower down but it soon became bare trail. It was become more obvious as more folks have been hiking it. We soon reached the Pratt Lake Trail.

Rather than turn right and head back we turned left and walked a short way to the viewpoint above Olallie Lake. This point is out of the thick forest. Years back you could look down on all of Olallie Lake and see Mt. Rainier above the lake. Now the wide views have narrowed to Mt. Rainier was some of the lake still in view. The trees have grown to cut out much of the unobstructed views. We went a little farther and climbed above the trail on boulders to get into the sunshine. We lost the views out but the warm sun more than make up for it. While we had dinner a squirrel or chipmunk popped into view. This guy had no fear of humans. He posed for photos just a few feet away and at one point had his front legs on my boots. Most unexpected from wildlife. I'm afraid he has had too many interactions with humans.

We headed back to the viewpoint for more photos. We began the hike back at 6:06 pm. We still had more than three hours of daylight for a 4 mile hike. Easy hiking over to the Olallie Lake inlet creek. Just before it the snow began. The creek was pretty high requiring more fancy footwork to keep feet dry. On the other side we climbed above the creek on solid snow. Solid with much of the underside melted out. It did hold our weight. The snow was from a few feet deep to one spot where it was closed to five feet deep on the downside of the slope. Much more snow than expected. Half way to the Olallie Lake trail junction the snow abruptly ended for the day. Soon after we closed the loop and were back on our ascending route. The trail is gently graded making for an easy descent. We did lose about 2200' over four miles but as a smooth steady grade.

The big difference coming down were all the wildflowers we did not see on our way up. No colorful Indian paintbrush or lupine but lots of white flowers. More marsh marigolds then trillium and vanilla left and then some saprophytes. Next were bunchberry and bramble berry and foam flower and queen's cup and a few more. Not a profusion of color but a pretty good display. At one point John pointed out a couple wild ginger leaves. We each lifted one and found a flower underneath. None of the other leaves had flowers. We did not see any more leaves later. Just a quick stop and two perfect wild ginger flowers. Just after we reached the Granite Mountain junction we caught up with a large group of 8 or so hikers. They were going slower but we had less than a mile to go. We took a few more flower stops and did not have to try passing them.

We arrived at the trailhead at 8:08 pm. There were now 20 other cars in the lot. It seems we were just early enough to miss the Granite Mountain crowd. They must have been arriving soon after we started hiking. This was a moderate hike with a little over 8 miles hiked and about 2400' of gain. Very similar to the numbers of our hike a week earlier on Tiger Mountain. Hiking in solitude to a mountain lake with mountain views in an older forest was a much better experience. A very successful after work hike.

John Crossing Creek
First Mushrooms
Shady Trail
Snow Begins
New (To Me) Bridge
John At Olallie Lake
Lake Reflection
Looking To Outlet
View From Inlet End
Start Of Boot Path
Babbling Brook
Skippy Arrives
Eye To Eye
Climbing On Foot
Hi There
Olallie Lake Viewpoint
Back On Snow
Another Creek Crossing
Marsh Marigold
Lush Hillside
Vanilla Leaf
John At Work
More Mushrooms
Waterfall Again
Cascading Creek
Big Mushroom
And Another
Nice Contrast
Queen's Cu
Wild Ginger
Tiny White Flower
Tiny Flower II
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2021