Bandera Mountain (Jul 8, 2014)

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bandera_coverConditions: day hike
Gear: nothing special
Map: USGS Bandera
Area: North Bend, WA
Reference: Day Hiking Snoqualmie Region
Stats: 5.82mi, 2014' gain (round trip)

This was day 5 of a long holiday weekend...and my third day hike. I wanted to see how much elevation I could comfortably get in without completely maxing the knees out. First trip was Rampart Ridge, second was Blanca Lake. I'd seen reports of the beargrass growing on the slopes of Defiance, Bandera, and Granite Mtn so I was pretty sure that's the area I wanted to head to. I hade grand plans to go up Little Bandera (West Bandera), then over to Bandera, then see if I could find a route that dropped to the lakes, then on over to Defiance, and then out... Yeah...grand plans...

I woke up early and I was tired. I'd not slept well the night before. But, I'd taken the day off and I wasn't going to put this trip off. By the following weekend the beargrass was going to start to fade. I debated for a bit if I wanted to bail...then...I just decided I couldn't waste a perfectly good vacation day. I was on the road by 7am and found myself stuck in horrendous morning rush hour traffic on 405S. It took me a full 1 hour longer to get to the pass. Crazy! I arrived at the trailhead (2158') later than I hoped and was hiking up the trail by about 9:30am.

The Ira Spring "trail" starts out on an old road and I hate roads...but I wanted to see the beargrass so I continued on and up. The road walk continues up the road quite a ways. The only good thing about this was that the were plenty of trees to offer protection from the sun and the heat.

At about 1.42mi (2887') the grade of the trail steepens. Eventually, at about 2.14mi (3492') there is the first switchback in the trail. It's about here that the trail starts to alternate between being out in the open and then some shade. The beargrass I was out to see starting making it's appearance. A little bit at first, then the hillsides were alive with beargrass. Several more switchbacks higher (2.85', 4142') I reached the junction with the trail that peels off and heads to Bandera. I decided to continue uphill on this trail (instead of heading over to Mason Lake. It was hot, I was tired, and I was withering fast. I found a nice rock alongside the trail and checked my showed I'd done about 2000' gain. Good. That should get me over the 8000' mark for the long weekend. It gave me a good excuse to cry uncle in the heat and call it quits.

I took a nice long break here for lunch. I picked up the camera and walked around a bit to photograph the beargrass and the hillsides. Then, time to head down into the protection of the trees and the shade. I made it back to the trailhead parking lot by about 1pm and managed to...get stuck in westbound I90 traffic for another hour.

So I 1) did get to see the beargrass (yippee) and 2) I did get my long weekends cumulative elevation gain to top 8000' (double yippee) so all in all, it was a GREAT weekend. My right knee did swell up just a tad but good grief...I did 25 miles and 8040' gain over the long weekend. Not too shabby for someone with titanium in both knees!!!
Bandera Mountain Slideshow

(click on map to view a larger version)

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Copyright Janet M. Putz
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