Mt. Defiance Round Two

Two weeks ago we decided to take another shot at summiting Mount Defiance. The last time we attempted the hike in mid May (much to early in the season) and the trail was completely snow-covered.  In fact we only made it as far as Mason Lake, and even part of that was actually off the official trail.  This time there was no snow to be seen, and boy were very grateful.


No snow on Defiance this time around


And a snow-free Mason Lake

After making it to Mason Lake we were in uncharted territory but had an idea where we were going.  I thought I had read the turn off for the peak was hard to find and the trail conditions were not the best, so when we stumbled upon a side trail that headed in the correct direction we took it, figuring it must be the correct path.  I was wrong.


Defiance mocks us from Little Mason Lake

We were not lost, but we were definitely not where we needed to be.  We could see hikers on a tantalisingly close but on a different trail switchbacking their way up the hillside above us.  The incorrect path took us about a half mile in the wrong direction, but did provide for a few pictures I wouldn’t have gotten any other way.


The marsh skirting trail to Little Mason


Trail-side tadpoles

Rummaging around in the undergrowth proved to be fruitless, so we turned around and headed back to the main trail, knowing our destination was waiting for us out there somewhere.  The correct branch turned out to be a short walk farther down the trail, and was very well signed.  We were finally going to conquer the elusive peak!


Tree fungus! (Really a water break excuse)

While we were finally on the path to the peak we soon began to regret the decision.  The trail shot almost straight up the hill for a few miles.  There were a few switchbacks at first, but their grade was so steep they hardly helped.


A steep angle

Our only relief from the… relief… came as the path leveled out (slightly) in the exposed meadows above the treeline.  This is where was the same point the hikers had been that we saw from down below, which mean we were very close to the summit, lunch, and a long break.


Scenery motivates tired legs


Flowers blooming!

Just as we thought the trail was going to slowly spiral its way around the peak it turned up again.  This time there was no sugar-coating it at all, we were going straight up the mountain, crawling our way through the loose soil and rock at times.


Making the ridgeline…


…and turning up up up

Fully exhausted we emerged triumphantly on top of Mount Defiance.  After months of talking about conquering the peak we were finally standing on the summit, sweaty but oh so happy.  The only problem was the massive crowd of people clustered about the outcrops, preventing us was fully enjoying our lunch in peace.  At least the views did not disappoint.


Hiding Rainier


Eastward peaks


Mount Baker (tiny white peak on the left-hand side) to North Cascades National Park

The trail down was just as treacherous, but went quickly with gravity’s assistance.  Once again we wished we had our swimsuits so take a refreshing plunge in Mason Lake, but did make a pit stop at the Snoqualmie Brewery for celebratory dinner and drinks.  Now we can finally say we defied Mount Defiance!

Photos taken 3 August, 2014 with a Nikon D7100

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