Defying Mount Defiance

This week’s weather has been superb! Since Sunday the highs have been in the mid eighties, so I figured it was a great opportunity for the first long alpine hike of the season. Mount Defiance‘s 11 mile trek beckoned, but it was not to be.


North facing snow

We ended up doing almost 10 miles on the ridges, but not how we expected (map of our route).  The trail starts out fairly wide and gradually narrows as it meanders up the ridge.  At the Bandera Mountain junction we turned left, heading for Mason Lake and the defiant peak beyond.


Ira Spings Trail terminus

All of the Ira Springs Trail (up to point B on the map) faces south and was thus free of any snowpack; however, as soon as you cross over the ridgeline the tricky part begins as the path is steep, narrow, and snow-covered.  We were perfectly fine, but I would not recommend it for the less adventurous for another month or so.


Frozen Mason Lake

As we arrived at Mason Lake we passed a few well prepared hikers with heaps of snow gear.  They told us their goal had been Mount Defiance as well, but could not locate the turnoff due to the deep snow and had given up.  As we were in shorts and hiking boots with no gear we decided to trust them, turn around, and head for Bandera Mountain farther back on the trail.


Looking down on Mason Lake from the Bandera Mountain Trail

Once again, the first part of the Bandera Mountain Trail is south-facing with no snow.  As soon as we reached the ridge the going got slower, and not just because we were taking in the views.


Very blue snow/ice


Ridgeline with I-90 snaking away toward (a very faint) Seattle

I think I mentioned the weather was amazing… and some of us might have gotten sunburnt (I won’t mention any names).


True Cascade peaks…


…with multiple cloud layers

It was a great weekend for a hike, and despite a forced change of plans I couldn’t have asked for a better time.  The snow was actually a refreshing change of pace, and we were both very glad to have purchased new waterproof hiking boots the day before.  Mount Defiance might have defied us this time, but we’ll be back later this summer once our new boots are fully broken in.


Water crossing early on

Photos taken on 11 May, 2014 with a Nikon D7100

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