Mason, Rainbow, & Blazer Lakes

Another 80 degree day. Seems like nearly every weekend day has been for months. Not a normal summer in western Washington. I did not have a chance to brush out the way trail to Blazer Lake last year. It was time. Rather than another trip via the Pratt Lake Trail I chose to go in via Mason Lake. In all my years of hiking I had only hiked the trail between Mason and Rainbow one eastbound and twice westbound. A one way trip and an in and out. I had a medium early start heading out of Seattle and up I-90 at 7:25 am. Off at exit 45 and to the end of the road at the Ira Spring trailhead. I was surprised to find only half a dozen spots left in the 2200' parking lot at 8:30 am. A few minutes later I was on the trail.

It was already plenty warm in shorts and short sleeves. I passed several parties in the first mile. I considered taking the Old Mason Lake Trail but decided to take the longer version with views in the cooler morning. Perhaps take the old trail coming down. There are plenty of pearly everlasting in bloom and even a few Indian paintbrush. many of the fireweed have gone to seed. I passed several more groups and one fast couple blew on by me. Pretty good early views. The haze held off until later. Higher up Mt. Rainier came into view. Putrid Pete's Peak and Mt. Defiance too. Near the Bandera Mountain junction I met Jim and hiked with him to the Defiance - Rainbow junction.

The trail crossed the ridge and dropped down into the lake basin. Much cooler in the shade. There were the expected large number of tents at Mason Lake. The sun was right behind the lake making photos difficult. We kept on going to the junction. Jim headed left and I headed right. Having been to the junction so many times but on the trail to Rainbow so few I did not remember much about the route. I did recall a swift climb and it happens right after the junction. The trail flattens out then drops to the big unnamed tar/lake. Some berries here though not many. The tarn is even larger than I recalled. I saw two hikers there and when I stopped for photos they came around the lake and continued towards Rainbow.

It is not far from there to Rainbow Lake. The berry situation did improve in Rainbow Meadow though some were already past prime. The normally dry trail along Rainbow had standing water and mud. I don't recall seeing that in September. There must have been some heavy recent rain. The lake was also much higher than I was expecting. I reached the shore at my usual spot and two guys had their gear strewn around as they packed up. I headed for the small rock island. It is usually nearly dry to reach this time of year. Instead I had some long stretches to rock hop over. It was 10:30 am and I was set for several hours. Since I had all day I spent 2 1/2 hours on the rocks. It was getting very warm. An occasional breeze made it more comfortable. I read the last 30 pages of a book, slept for awhile, and just generally lazed away the morning. Folks came and went. Not bad solitude overall.

At 1:00 pm it was time to get to work. I had to detour for a few dessert berries before heading to the Rainbow Lake outlet. I followed the trail between the two outlets and dropped down to the water crossing. I had to tightrope the log to get across. Once could just drop down to the west of the big outlet and not have to cross any water. Alongside the "pond" in the outlet creek, across the short meadow, and I easily picked up the trail again. It was overgrown but not as bad as I feared. I spent the next hour removing brush. Now it is in excellent shape. Up and over the short bypass that avoids the washout that closed the trail and down to the lake.

At the shore I found the same conditions as at Rainbow. It was well above normal late summer water level. The usual grassy end was well under water. I had no interest in wading across so that was it for this day. The lake was smooth as glass. Pratt Mountain sits beyond the far end. Dragonflies were flitting about. No bugs at all. If I had more time I'd have stayed. But I did not. Soon I was climbing back up to Rainbow. One climb back up from the big tarn/lake and then downhill to Mason Lake. At Mason there was a large crowd. Much different from the occasional hikers at Rainbow. More than half a dozen were swimming.

I debated taking the cooler old trail down but instead chose the longer Ira Spring route with better views. There was a little breeze to offset the afternoon heat. It won't be long before the head will be gone until next summer. I continued to meet hikers coming up until well down the trail. I made it back to the parking lot at 5:10 pm. It was fun to get to Rainbow Lake via a different route. All the trails are in fine shape. Three plus lakes on a hot summer day are appreciated. Sometimes the day is about covering a lot of miles or reaching a great viewpoint. This day had some views, some lakes, some trail work, and a lot of relaxing and snoozing. A great way to spend a day in the mountains.

McClellan Butte
Leaf Color
Color & Blue Sky
Mt. Rainier
P Cubed & Defiance
Putrid Pete's Peak
Mason Lake
"Little Tarn"
Unnamed Lake Again
Rainbow Lake Reflection
Other End Of Lake
Rock Island
Beargrass Stalks
Brushy Blazer Trail
Brushed Out
Blazer Lake
Kaleetan Peak
Cliffs Above Lake
Pratt Mt. & Blazer Lk
View Down Blazer Lake
Blazer Reflection
Small Pond
Blazer Trail
Pratt Mt. Over Rainbow
Meadow Color
Back At Unnamed Lk
Yellow Leaves
Back At Mason Lake
Open Trail
Mt. Defiance
Many Colors
Last Fall Color
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2014