Rainbow Lake (Jul 22-23, 2017)

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rainbow_lk_coverConditions: backpack
Gear: overnight gear
Map: USGS Bandera
Area: Snoqualmie Pass
Reference: Dayhiking Snoqualmie Region
Stats: 14.23mi, 3428' gain (total both days)

The original plan was to summit camp at Hannegan Pk but mid week the weather forecast showed a change...clouds and a slight chance of precip on Saturday. Jim and I mulled over a destination further south, he suggested Rainbow Lake. I'd never been there but had eyed it many times from above so I was game.

We arrived at the trailhead (1863') early, about 7am, and found cars already parked along the access road heading back to the I90 exit. Wow.

We knew it would be a warm day so the early start and the shade of the forest during most of the hike in would work in our favor. The trail starts steadily uphill and at about 1.5mi (2472') meets up with the trail heading off to Granite Mtn. We continued straight which kept us in the forest. Sweet! The next trail junction came up at about 3.2mi (3730') where the trail heads left (downhill) toward Talapus Lk. Hiking in the forest had another advantage besides the shade...we saw one of the most awesome parades of saprophytes. Coralroot, pinedrop, pinesap, and even one new one...looked like colorful pinecones stuck into the ground. When I looked them up after getting home it turns out they are fringed pinesap. Burke Museum Herbarium says they are uncommon and their conservation status is "watch list". So in hindsight, we were pretty darned lucky to spot them. We spotted lots of other interesting flowers in the forest, we had plenty of time not being in a rush to get to the lake. We were on the lookout of wild ginger and after lots of poking around we finally found some with some open flowers.

At about 3.5mi (3930') we reached where the USGS map shows a trail heading steeply downhill to Olallie Lk. Then again at 4.2mi (4170') the junction with the Pratt Lk trail. The final trail junction was right before Rainbow Lake at 5.6mi (4330') and here a trail heads off to Island Lk. We were headed for Rainbow and about 1pm we finally pulled into the last decent campsite. It wasn't a minute too soon because right after dropping packs another group came by trying to find a sight. To say our campsite was decent was being generous. The site was littered not only with white TP blooms...there was a large rock at the edge of the sight with a #2 skid mark. Gross! I've become used to just blue bagging each time I head out so I had plenty of "supplies". Jim was kind enough to check the poo rock well off to the side. He then helped me pick up all the TP blooms. We hung the remains from a bag in a tree and hauled the doody out on our hike out the next day. We found pretty much the entire lakeside of Rainbow littered with the "blooms". Pretty darned sad, disgusting, and such an infuriating condition given that there is a decent pit toilet so close.

After washing our hands we headed out toward Island Lake for a look. We found a nice spot with a view of the lake and spent the next 4 1/2 hours catching up on news and just relaxing. I finally got around to having a late lunch. Finally, about 4:30pm we headed back to Rainbow Lake. Jim boiled up some water for dinner. A couple came in kind late..7:30pm-ish and we vacated the marginal campsite where we set up the stove and decided to wander over to Sir Richard's Pond. It was a short visit then we headed back to camp and turned in.

Morning came, time for breakfast. Problem...bugs are out. Thankfully it wasn't mosquitoes or black flies. It was those itty gnats. I got pretty bit up and my head net went on. It is that time of year. Bugs are the one thing I really dislike about backpacking. It's usually a somewhat short season so best to just get through it.

We packed up camp, Jim hitched the poo-bag to the outside of my pack, and we can honestly say we left the lake cleaner than it was when we got there!
 
Rainbow Lake Slideshow

rainbow_lk_map
(click on map to view a larger version)

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Copyright Janet M. Putz
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