Bandera Mountain: Solo in the Mountains for a Day

Bandera Mountain: 5245 ft / 1598 m
False Summit (West Peak) of Bandera: 5157 ft/1572 m

This little adventure turned out to be medicine for mind, body, & soul. Record of a stiff dayhike & a madcap scramble up a modest but steep peak in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness as I nurtured my spirit and trained my bodymind for more demanding adventures. 

***Unfinished work in Progress. Please enjoy what’s here to see & read, and thank you for your patience.***

*Click on any image to blow it up big for a larger view. Enjoy!*

Mason Lake from the summit of Bandera Mountain. Several good campsites lay in the woods below beyond talus & scree.

Summit selfie from later in the evening. Sunday 31 May 2015.

Seattle is surrounded by exceptional outdoor adventure riches. An hour’s drive east took me to a trailhead into the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. I was off work and alone on this Sunday at the end of May 2015. I chose Bandera Mountain for a steep dayhike. Part of my training for challenging hikes and scrambles in the mountainous backcountry of Cascadia. But really I went to heal my body, mind, & soul. This short, little, madcap adventure allowed for all these things to occur.

Mt. Rainier amid turbulent late Spring skies from my grunt up Bandera Mountain.

The weather was warmer than normal as an extended drought persisted, most of the snow usually around was gone. With so much going on in my everyday life, I felt a deep-seated need to get out onto the trails into the backcountry. Even felt compelled to push off-trail thru rocks & vegetation to find sanctuary for deep inner peace amidst outer beauty & physical hardship. The woman I was dating at the time, Little Sky, had to work this Sunday. My friends were already busy, and all of my kids were away doing their own thing. My oldest daughter, Morgan, was back east thruhiking the Appalachian Trail. While I would have preferred some company on the climb, sometimes going solo is the most satisfying way to go. So solo it was!

Silhouette of McClellan Butte, 5162 ft / 1,573 m looms into the afternoon sun across the Upper Snoqualmie river valley & freeway corridor from the steep slopes of Bandera.

McClennan (or McClellan’s Butte) is another popular training grunt for outdoor adventurers in the Greater Seattle area. Once upon a time in December 1993, my friend Tim Evans & I attempted a winter climb. Snow was already deep. Gentle snowfall soon worsened into a blizzard. Avalanches sweeping down couloirs both in front & behind us forced us to retreat. Darting gently across steep couloirs of sliding snow proved a wee bit hairy, LOL!

Ira Spring is dead & gone now, and his legacy of astonishing contributions to saving, preserving, & maintaining wilderness during the environmental struggles of the previous century are remembered around the Sound. This trail head leads into a network of trails old & new across the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.

Crossing between upper & lower sections of Mason Creek Falls. Yes, the Ira Spring’s a popular trail as it’s so close to the growing cities along the Salish Sea of Cascadia. The deeper & steeper one goes, however, the fewer fellow travelers.

Mason Creek Falls in low water & it’s only the end of May.

Cairn art. What is it about cairns & the emotional polarization seeing them causes among so many people? They’ve evolved from a traditional way to mark a route thru wild country to art to even being considered a form of grafitti & vandalism. Many people hate cairns & tear them down. Some felt a person must learn to navigate without being reliant on cairns & other trail markers, even trail signs. Most others, however, appreciate cairns and delight in stacking & balancing rocks to make even more cairns. It’s as if so many of us desire to leave behind anonymous legacies.

Many hiking trails are reclaimed from abandoned, once overgrown logging & mining roads & narrow-gauge railways.

Not far beyond this is the hidden, overgrown turnoff onto the unmaintained & officially nonexistent “Old” Mt. Defiance trail.

The summit slopes of Bandera roll away to vanish into the sky.

Narwhal of the Mountain Forest spikes the Sky…

Another tree skeleton.

Dead & dying trees serve whole hyperlocal ecosystems of living organisms.

Ti’Swaq’ … the Sky Wiper! Native American name for The Mountain named Rainier after an Imperial British naval officer who fought rebellious American colonists & their French allies back in the U.S. Revolutionary War.

The slopes of Bandera merge into those of Mt. Defiance along the high ridges above the Valieys of the Snoqualmie, Alpine Lakes Wilderness.

The giant volcano of Mt. Rainier/Ti’Swaq looms above the surrounding peaks & ridges at an elevation of 14411 ft / 4392 m. As of this time I’ve climbed to the summit of Rainier twice & have been partway up a number of other times, mainly to train & explore. Each adventure on The Mountain felt amazing to this ol’ country boy from Virginia.

Awww, it’s not Superman, Supergirl, or Extraterrestrial invaders.

Serrated peaks cluster across the Alpine Lakes Wilderness of the Washington Cascades. Sunday 31 May 2015.

I love the rolling mix of evergreen conifers across these mountains & valleys.










We chatted briefly…originally from India, she loves hiking in the American Pacific Northwest. She was hustling down from the summit solo & back to the trailhead.

Going going gone … and the top of the mountain awaits.

Looking down at Mason Lake, about 4,200 feet or 1,300 m in elevation. Mt. Defiance is the high pyramid-shaped peak across the way at 5584 ft / 1702 m in elevation.

Mason Lake, Alpine Lakes Wilderness.

Looking back from scrambling up the spine from the False Summit or West Peak to the true summit of Bandera.

Mason Lake again with Mt. Defiance beyond from the tippity-top of Bandera Mountain, Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Sunday 31 May 2015.

Looking west down I-90 & the Snoqualmie Valley towards North Bend & Issaquah-Bellevue-Seattle and the Olympic Mountains beyond.

Self-Portrait by the Author upon the summit of Bandera as the Sun slowly slides down into the clouds. Sunday 31 May 2015.

The Giant Volcano who Wipes the Sky. The spur to the left/north is Little Tahoma Peak, the remnant of what used to be the outermost layer of Mt. Rainier at its most massive back when it once soared well over 16,000 feet or 4,877 meters in height.

Peering down Bandera at its Western (False) Summit and on into the freeway racing thru the Valley of the South Fork of the Snoqualmie River.

Aye, steep hike in places. Not too bad, tho.

Dusk approaches as I descend back down the high meadows into the woods.

Selfie time atop the summit! One guy told me earlier there wasn’t any view from the top of Bandera as it was covered in scrubby ass trees. Oh, so not true. One simply has to push thru the trees, and presto la bingo, the world opens wide!

Full Moon above the trailhead parking lot. I enjoy hiking in the dark & always carry a headlamp. With extra batteries, too, LOL!

Wild Luna.

Enchanted by moonlight.

Everyone is enthralled with Luna.

One Eye high in the Sky. Hers.

*This is still a work in progress. Thank you for your patience & please enjoy what’s here to see & read.*


William Dudley Bass
Saturday 21 October 2017
SeaTac/Seattle, Washington


Copyright © 2017 by William Dudley Bass. All Rights Reserved until we Humans establish Wise Stewardship of and for our Earth and Solarian Commons. Thank you.


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