Bandera Mountain

I joined Gary for an after work hike up Bandera Mountain. Gary has been up Bandera more times than me but had not been to the real summit. I did the hike exactly one year earlier and the beargrass was at its peak. The only draw back was the southern facing route on an 85 degree day. The road to the Mason Lake/Bandera trailhead had washed out over the winter in three places. Reports were that the first one was easy to get around, the next one was okay with higher clearance, and the third stopped most folks. We expected an extra third of a mile hike to the parking lot. In fact, the road has very recently been repaired. There were 4 or 5 cars in the lot when we arrived just before 3:00 pm.

The first 1 1/2 miles are in forest and kept the sun at bay somewhat. I knew that Mason Creek had washed away much of the old road/trail but was very surprised to see that there was another huge washout just before the creek. The hillside is completely untouched above the trail but completely gone below. A new trail was been carved out of the hillside to allow easy passage. At Mason Creek the culvert is still there but most of the road around it is gone. It's just hanging there now. All the dirt slid down to a smooth rock slab.

The few beargrass down low were spent. Only the stalks remained. We saw some lupine and paintbrush plus a few other flowers in the forest. When we emerged from the forest the heat really hit me. We had set a good pace up to there but I slowed dramatically in the heat. When we reached the Bandera junction it felt like 95 degrees. The next stretch is the remnant of the old straight up the fall line trail to Bandera. No switchbacks here. Gary took off to get in his work out and I crawled up the slope.

As we ascended the beargrass became better and better. Near the ridge they were just about at their peak. There were some paintbrush, lupine, and tiger lilies mixed in too. Gary was waiting at the ridge top and we continued on together. One last bit of shade in a short forest section then back out into the sun. It took me just about two hours to reach the false summit. We took a short break and then it was on to the real summit. I found the break in the rocks taking us back to the southern slope. The route is mostly on the south side near or at the crest. We found even more beargrass over there and it was all at its peak. Many photos were taken.

My two previous trips had some snow on the crest. This time it was nearly snow free and I found that a trail works its way over to the north side near the low point in the ridge. This worked well and soon we were back on the ridge crest. We climbed around the next false summit and soon reached the boulder fields. We made quick work of the rocks and soon were on the summit. There was just a little breeze here. Island Lake sits just below the summit. Pratt, Granite, Kaleetan, Chair  and other peaks are all around. It was nearly 6:00 pm when we arrived. Now it felt like it was down to only 94 degrees.

At least the route back was almost all downhill. As with my two previous visits we managed to lose the route coming back. Again we had to head straight uphill to get back on route. At least we found the false summit okay. The steep section back to the Mason Lake junction is a real knee basher. With the heat I was going just as slow as the ascent. Back on trail the situation improved markedly. The Ira Spring Trail is smooth and nicely graded. We reached the bottom well before 9:00. We did pass by Scott's Dairy Freeze just after 9:00 and it was closed. A not so minor disappointment.

Starting off in the heat of the afternoon on an open southern slope on a trail that ends going straight uphill with big steps is not my favorite thing to do. This trail is worth it though as the flowers and amazing beargrass display is stunning. Gary said it was the best beargrass display he has seen and I concur. Throw in a bit of a scramble and it was worth the pain and heat. A fun summer afternoon after a day of work.

Mason Creek Washout
Gary & Beargrass
Mix Of Flowers
Beargrass & Heather
Beargrass Everywhere
Nearing Summit
Gary On Summit
Granite Mountain
Crest Peaks
Beargrass Close Up
Heading Back
Big Stalks
Tiger Lily
Last Beargrass
Indian Paintbrush
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2009