& Blazer Lakes
and unusually humid in Seattle. I needed to go where it would be
cooler. Far enough from the trailhead to not be overrun by other
hikers. Under those conditions it would be Rainbow Lake. Lightening
forecast in the mountains, especially east of the crest. It was cloudy
much of the drive but bright blue sky at the Pratt Lake trailhead. All
the straight in parking spots in the lot were taken at 8:20 am. I
parked in one of the first spots parallel to the road. I was on the
trail a little later than hoped for but still early enough. At the half
mile switchback there were tiger lilies in bloom. Soon I
found a single wild ginger in bloom. Since I found out what the leaves
look like this is the third hike this year where I have found them
flowering. One speedy hiker passed me. I passed five other groups on
the way up. Usually most folks head for Granite Mountain. I saw a
number of people heading to the lakes.
At the the end of one mile I was soaked. We seldom get much humidity
not a lot of summer heat. It is rare to have both at once. As I hiked
west I was soon under cloud cover. Fairly dark clouds. It was moist but
it did keep the heat in check. Two weeks earlier I hiked to the Pratt
Lake/Defiance junction and then down to Pratt. There were several long
and deep snow patches left above the Talapus/Olallie Lakes junction.
Not anymore. Just a little snow near the Olallie inlet creek crossing.
A lot has melted in two weeks. I noticed a pair of blooming calypso
orchids right next to the trail. That is a rarity on this trail. Where
the snow had only recently melted there were lots of trillium and
yellow violets in bloom. At the Olallie overlook Mt. Rainier was almost
totally lost in the clouds.
There was a big group of about a dozen kids at the Pratt junction. I
hoped they were not going my way. A short way down the Defiance Trail I
met the adults with them. They were heading back down. The trail around
Pratt Mountain is all open southern exposure and melts out early. It
has a good assortment of lupine, Indian paintbrush, and other flowers.
None were in bloom yet. It was still snow free until the trail began to
descend to the lakes. Near the high point I could see across the valley
to Island Lake. Still a lot of ice on part it. The snow was never very
deep. I brought gaiters but did not bother to put them on. Bare trail
was mixed with patches of snow. lower down there was a bit more snow. I
could see lots of places where people had post holed down a foot or so.
The berry bushes are just now leafing out so it's too early to assess
the coming crop.
As I approached Rainbow Lake I could see that the east end was still
largely covered with thin ice. The rest is open water. There is snow
around much of the lake though my usual spot was bare. The lake is
about as high as it gets. My lounging rocks are just barely above lake
level. I arrived at 11:00 am on the button. 2:28 minutes to cover 5 1/2
miles. As I sat down by the lake shore I noticed raindrops hitting the
lake. Perfect timing. The rain only lasted about 15 minutes. After that
the dark clouds began to lighten. By noon blue sky was showing through.
Later it would be all blue sky. Soon after my arrival Ben dropped by.
As seldom happens, he recognized me. He follows my trip reports. We had
a long discussion on hiking. We heard one boom of thunder and that was
it for the day.
Ben was interested in Blazer Lake. I offered to show him the abandoned
trail down to Blazer. We had a bite to eat then headed back to the
trail. I have visited Rainbow many times when the valley is snow bound.
I have not tried to get to Blazer on snow. We crossed the Rainbow
outlet and turned away from the lake. Since the log sank I now cross
the other creek higher up. The little creek was roaring but we found a
spot to get across with dry feet. The meadow was snow covered but some
marsh marigolds were blooming in small bare spots. Soon the whole
meadow will be white with them. Still on snow I followed where I
thought the trail was and in a minute we were back at the outlet creek
and back on dirt. It seems that once the trail begins to descend it
melts out early. We had a nice view from the overlook. I knew that
Blazer would have a high water level and it would be a knee deep ford
to get to the other side. Since Ben had not been there we headed down
Since I brushed it out last fall the trail is in fine shape. In just a
few minutes we were down to Blazer Lake. We could see up the lake and
to Pratt Mountain but as expected the lake was too high to get to the
other side where the flat ground is. We retraced our steps back up to
Rainbow Lake. Ben had come from Exit 42 via Mason Lake and the old old
Mason Lake Trail. He had a long trip back and we parted ways. My spot
was still available back at Rainbow Lake. My goal was to find a cool
spot to escape the heat and I was very successful. A cool breeze blew
from across the lake. I had sunshine and shade. I moved from one to the
other all afternoon. I was in no hurry to get back to my scorching hot
I had a good book, plenty of food and water, and plenty of time.
Occasionally I heard folks passing by on the main trail. Only one duo
dropped by my spot for a few minutes. Otherwise, I had nearly complete
solitude. After 4 1/2 hours I packed up. I headed on back at 3:30 pm.
climb out of the valley and then it was all downhill. Most of the route
back is in deep and cooler forest too. All part of the plan. I saw two
hikers at the Olallie Lake overlook. Two more pairs coming up later.
That was it for 5 1/2 miles of hiking. I guess nobody cared to hike
uphill on an unusually hot afternoon. It was hot but much less humid
hiking out. I was in no hurry. The less time in a hot house the better.
I took about the same amount of time to hike back as out. I was back at
my car at 6:00 pm.
What a nearly perfect day to get out of town. After a moist hike in I
had low 70s weather with a cool breeze. I had sunshine and shade. Other
than a good conversation with Ben I had solitude on I-90. Yes, my house
was 84 degrees at 7:15 pm but I had a great day in the mountains.
Light On Dark Trail
Hikers On Boardwalk
Ice On Lake
Closer Fowl View
Click on thumbnails to get
Mt. Defiance Again