Rattlesnake Mountain One Way

On the day after Christmas Gary and John joined me for my 99th hike of the year. We did not get a sunrise start. We met at the west end, Snoqualmie Point, at 9:30 am. Gary drove us to Rattlesnake Lake at the other end of the Rattlesnake Mountain Trail. There were still open parking spaces. Perhaps it would not be too crowded up to the ledges. By 9:50 am we were on the trail. Well, we were on the old road around to the backside of the lake. I just hiked up to the East Peak last Sunday. I had not done the full one way RMT hike in almost three years. We made very good time on the 1.9 mile trail up to the lower ledge. We saw a number of folks already coming down and passed some groups heading up. It was not empty but also not all that crowded. This is one of the most popular trails in the state, at least up to the lower ledge.

We arrived at the lower ledge at 10:42 am. It was very sunny on the hike up. There was still a lot of blue sky at the ledge. The blue sky did not last. Good views from the ledge. Several other groups there. After a few minutes we headed on. Just like my Sunday trip the crowds ended at the lower ledge. We took short breaks at the middle and upper ledges too. Nice views down to the lower ledge from the upper one. From that angle no water can be seen in Rattlesnake Lake. Just a lot of bare lake bed. Heading on from the upper ledge we found snow lower than on Sunday. One runner came down and mentioned it was pretty slick higher up. We all brought Yaktrax but not Microspikes. Though it was packed down and slick at times we never needed traction devices. More snow than on Sunday but packed will enough that I did fine in lower top hiking shoes. There was some wind at the East Peak summit. I added a windshirt. I also put on gaiters.

Now we had a downhill stretch. We took the short trail over to Windy Landing. On my last visit in early 2017 trees were beginning to block the view. Now there is not much of a view left. On we went. The old road/trail drops down and reaches the new clear cut. Not quite clear. There are small patches of trees left in spots. The logging has opened up views at the cost of a forested trail. Wind continued though largely blocked by the trees as we descended. There were footprints on the road. We took the trail and it had just a few fresh prints. Blue sky was gone now. We had views out but not much sunshine made it through the cloud cover. We could see down to the top of low lying fog. There were darker places below us. Though we were in the open it was almost wind free. We chose to have lunch here. I started to brush snow off a log to sit on when I noticed it was a cut bench. More snow removal and I had a nice seat.

On our 2017 trip John and I took a 1.5 hour break along here. It was March and warmer. This day it was sub freezing during our lunch break. I put on two more layers. We could see West Rattlesnake, East Tiger, and Tiger 1. We could also see a bit of Mt. Rainier and part of the Olympic Mountains. Pretty nice views. Our break lasted from 12:21 to 12:47 am. Near the end some sunshine shone down. It was markedly warmer. We packed up and continued on. The ridge has some ups and downs along the way. The trail went behind the one tower between East and West Peaks and into the forest. We reached the low point and began to climb on our way to Grand Prospect. The forest here has also be hacked. Before the cutting none of the towers on West Rattlesnake could be seen. Now it is clear how close the trail comes to them. Probably only about 80 vertical feet.

We soon reached Grand Prospect. Now that half a dozen large trees have grown up to mar the view we debated a new name. Bland Prospect? No Prospect? North Bend is no longer in sight and in a few years Mt. Si will disappear too. There was still continuous snow at Grand Prospect though it was getting very thin. This last four miles is the section of the RMT that we hike most often. We do it a few times each winter with headlamps after dark. It was kind of neat to see it in the daylight. Gary and John had just headlamp hiked it a few weeks earlier. From East Peak to Grand Prospect we saw nobody. The solitude continued as we descended. Yet another I-90 hike with hours of total solitude. Not that I'm complaining. The trail meets an old road and we stopped where we left that road for the forest trail. I took my gaiters off here as the snow was almost gone.

The rest of the way down was easy walking. At some points I saw some blue sky overhead through the trees but we did not have any sun shining on us the rest of the way down. Close to the bottom we passes some larger groups with young children. There were folks out on both ends of the Rattlesnake Mountain Trail (RMT), just not many in the middle. We reached the totally shaded parking lot at 3:07 pm. I doubt this spot sees any sunshine for months on end this time of year. With the low sun and the mountain in the way it is perpetually shaded and cold. On our previous headlamp hikes over the years we parked outside the gate. The sign used to say " gate closes at 8:00 pm". Now it says "gate closes at dusk". This time of year dust is before 4:30 pm. We were still down well before dusk.

I drove back to Rattlesnake Lake to where Gary parked in the morning. I made it home just before total darkness. This was a fun trip. The 10.6 mile length is perfect for a one way trip. The 3100' of elevation gain is a good workout. Starting at Snoqualmie Point adds about 150' of elevation gain. The snow conditions were excellent. Enough to flock the trees but not enough to slow us down much. Since most of the route is not packed down and frozen to ice we did not even need traction devices. Descending from East Peak to the Upper Ledge did have some icy spots. I would have used my Yaktrax if we descended that way. Not totally necessary but they would have been helpful. This is not a trip we do often end to end but it makes for a great winter trip, especially when the snow is not very deep.

Ledges From Lot
Si & Teneriffe From Ledge
Mailbox Peak
Mt. Washington
Rattlesnake Lake
Mt. Si Haystack
Upper Ledge From Lower
Lower Ledge From Upper
Dry Lake Bed
Gary Near East Peak
Si & Teneriffe Again
Another Si Angled View
East Peak Tower
Windy Landing View
Leaving Forest
Olympic Mountains
Sun On Cloud Tops
The Brothers?
Looking Into Sun
Cloud Atop Clouds
Guys At Lunch
Me At Lunch Break
West Peak Towers
Mt. Rainier
Back In Forest
Snowy Peak
Teneriffe From GP
Last Si Summit View
Big Fungus
Downy Woodpecker
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2019