Jul 11
Mason Lake

Mason, Rainbow, and Island Lake, 10-11JULY2020

Thinking about short backpack trips that I can do until I return to doing a segment or so of the PCT, I have been exploring the trails that I have never been on within 100 miles of home. I have been attacking the Snoqualmie Valley/Pass area of late. I decided to do an overnighter this time up to some lakes. On Friday, I had a lot of little things to do, and so didn’t get away from home until about 11am. The exit from I-90 to the trailhead is just a few miles from the Snoqualmie Pass summit, and then a gravel road for several miles, replete with deep potholes, was greeted with caution, even for my off-road Tacoma pickup. Arriving at the trailhead, the parking lot, extending about ½ mile down the access road, was packed. Thankfully, I noted a hiker just departing, and so was able to park close to the trailhead in the main lot.

The weather was perfect, not too hot and not too cold, with few bugs on the first day. The hike in was 6.5 miles with over 2400 feet of elevation gain. It didn’t seem that far, even though all but a mile or so were uphill. The views of the Snoqualmie Valley were quite spectacular, and when one got up high enough, could then easily see Mt. Rainier. Once achieving the crest of the mountains surrounding Mason Lake, it was pretty much all downhill. At this time, the trail turned somewhat muddy, though the mud could be easily avoided. There were few bugs today to bother me. I set up camp, had dinner, and spent time exploring. Many of the campsites were taken at the lake. The trail itself was quite packed with day hikers, about 30% of them suffering from VIS*.

Looking across the Snoqualmie Valley. One can see I-90 at the base of the valley, and the Iron Horse trail providing a streak ¼ the way up the valley, which is a rail to trails project.
Looking across the Snoqualmie Valley, with Mt. Rainier in the distance
My tent, a Zpacks Duplex. Absolutely love it; it weighs slightly more than 1 pound, and can fit 2 people with 2 vestibules.
Just showing off my tent, with pad and sleeping bag inside.
My camp situation. I use an UrSack for my food. Though it was designed for bears, I use it to keep out smaller vermin, like chipmunks and squirrels. I use a JetBoil stove, and oftentimes eat simple packaged meals. This evening, I enjoyed a seafood bouillabaisse.

The next morning, I was up by 6:30, which is extreme sleeping in when I am in camping mode. My 7:30, I had breakfast (oatmeal, granola bar, hot chocolate, and coffee), packed up everything in my backpack, and then took off, leaving my backpack at camp, but using the hiking poles which were holding up my tent. I wanted to run up to Rainbow and Island Lake before returning home, which added about 2 miles in each direction from Mason Lake, and involved quite a bit of climbing in both directions on a roller-coaster trail. The trail was quite muddy, with occasional patches of snow to cross. I first reached Sir Richard Pond, then Rainbow Lake, and then took the side trail to Island Lake. I thought that Rainbow Lake was the prettiest, but Island Lake the most secluded.

Sir Richard Pond
Rainbow Lake
More of Rainbow Lake
Island Lake

There were a few people camped at both Rainbow and Island Lake, but with available spots that could have been occupied. I could have gone on the Pratt Lake but didn’t have my pack, nor enough time to make it there and then back home. So, I returned and picked up my pack at Mason Lake and headed back to the trailhead. On the return, starting at Rainbow Lake, there was a mass quantity of hikers on the trail. I also noted my more mosquitos, controlled easily with Picardin insect repellent. Just past Mason Lake, it was an endless stream of hikers. Oddly, nearly 95% of them suffered from VIS. The trailhead was extremely packed with cars, and on the drive out, the cars parked beside the road went on for nearly a mile, oftentimes making it a challenge when cars coming up to the trail were encountered. The lesson is that most of the Snoqualmie Valley trails should be avoided on weekends, and even during the week, the hiker should arrive at the trailhead before 9am.

All in all, it was a lovely hike. In a week or two, I would like to get up to Talapus and Ollalie Lakes, or perhaps even Pratt Lake, with time to explore the other lakes around. I need to take my grandson Liam on a child-Opa adventure within the next few weeks. Next Wednesday, I’ll be doing some car camping with Betsy and brother Gaylon for two nights at Takhlakh Lake, close to Mt. Adams. Meanwhile, I’m trying to decide what segment of the PCT I’ll be hiking this year. Hopefully, I might be able to finish the Washington State segment. It’s been a truly weird year for hiking, and hopefully, 2021 will return to normal.

P.S.; VIS = viral insanity syndrome, easily detected by noting hikers quickly covering their nose and mouth with a piece of cloth when approaching other hikers. There were several Muslim ladies on the trail, who were dressed as though they came straight from Saudi Arabia, and almost seemed natural on the trail!

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One Response to “Mason, Rainbow and Island Lake”

  1. Bruder Dennis says:

    ” VIS = viral insanity syndrome, easily detected by noting hikers quickly covering their nose and mouth with a piece of cloth when approaching other hikers.”

    They were Democrats. The mask is the new sign of the covenant.

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