Bandera Mountain

Time to get started on our mid week headlamp hikes. With torrential rain coming in for the weekend I was even more interested in getting out during the week. I finished up work early and headed out of town. I reached the Mason Lake/Ira Spring trailhead at 4:30 pm and hit the trail. The sun in Seattle gave way to clouds covering the peaks along the highway. Still, it was shorts and short sleeve weather down low. Since a headlamp hike exactly one year earlier I had not been on the trail. The washed out culvert at Mason Creek was removed. A washout just before was smoothed out. Nice improvements to the trail. I was not feeling my best and kept up a steady, if a little slower than normal, pace. Much to my surprise there were a dozen or so cars in the lot when I arrived. I started meeting those folks almost immediately as they hiked down. I ran into Suzanne who I had not seen since a backpacking trip more than a year ago. We had a short chat.

Gary and David would be arriving abut a half hour after me and they would be hiking at top speed. With the one stop to chat and a number of photo stops and sub par speed I was beginning to worry that they would catch me before the top. I took one food and water break at the lake/summit junction. Not for above me was the cloud level. thick enough that I could not see far into it. It was a little breezy and much cooler now. After the junction the trail just goes straight up. I slowly worked my way along. Lots of long dead bear grass stalks and no ripe berries to be found. At the ridge tip I was in the clouds. A short section in forest, then a few small talus fields, and back to the ridge top again. My shirt was pretty well soaked with sweat and cloud vapor by the time I reached the top. A dry shirt made a big difference. The south side peaks were in and out of the clouds. Even Mt. Rainier made an appearance.

I arrived on top at 6:13 pm. Six minutes later Gary arrived. David was just a few minutes behind him. By 6:30 pm I was on my way down. Some sun shone on the red and yellow leaves below me. I thought my phone camera produced near black photos. At home I was able to lighten some shots back to what I really saw. Mason Lake was in the dark behind the ridge. I had 30 minutes before sunset. With all the clouds we did not get much sunset color. After the steep descent I stopped at the trail junction to wait for Gary and David. A minute later two hikers passed by heading for the summit. I thought we were late. They would not even be on top by darkness.

Gary and David arrived soon after. We made it down several switchbacks before taking out our headlamps. The last couple miles were in the dark. We made it back to the parking lot around 8:00  pm. Not too bad at all. The dirt road back to the highway is in very good condition for this time of year. Soon enough our winter mid week trips will be closer in on Tiger and Rattlesnake Mountain. It may not have been as clear as we expected but it was a great first headlamp hike of the year.

Mason Creek
Clouds & A Little Blue
Fall Color
Red Leaves
Bear Grass Stalks
Into The Clouds
Mason Lake
Nearly Dark
Sunshine Below
Nice Color
End Of The Ridge
Post Sunset
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2013