Type of HikeDay hike
Only 1 car at trailhead when I arrived at around 8:30 AM. I passed the man whose car it was in the first few tenths of a mile, just out for a stroll it sounded like. Trail had most blowdowns cut out but I counted around 20 on the hike not cut out (only 1 really big one). Trail pretty easy until last mile or so before the lake. From there it steepens and is also pretty rocky and rooty. Arrived at Rachel Lake and took a brief break. Really quiet w/ no people. Bugs not bad to this point. I set out on trail to the right of the lake that went upward to a connection w/ the Rampart Ridge trail. I went right toward Alta Mt. Not much in the way of wildflowers or huckleberries to this point but more flowers and blueberries up on the ridge, especially the closer I got to Alta Mt. The fork to Alta is on the left, is unmarked but noticeable and well beaten (the right fork goes to Lila Lakes). There are no sticks across the climbers path. A marmot kept me company as I hiked past a rock field. Alta Mt is not visible for most of the hike and there are about 4 or 5 false summits. Just keep going on the path north on the ridge and it will take you there. Not much routefinding required. Views got better and better the higher I got. The summit is marked w/ a cairn of rocks. There was also a snapshot of a female at the summit (w/ a cairn taller than her!) and a compass. Despite high clouds, almost all peaks local and far away were visible, even the Olympics! Mt Rainier did have its very top covered with some clouds. No wind until I got up on the ridge. The bugs were a bit more prevalent here, but the breeze kept them down. I also enjoyed ID'ing some of the local peaks in the Alpine Lakes, etc. I could see partial Glacier Peak but Mt Stuart is hidden from view on the summit. It is visible from just below the summit. On the way back I took a side path that connected to the Lila Lakes trail. I went to the biggest lake but did not stay long as the bugs were worse there. Finally started seeing people as I descended back to Rachel Lake. One couple was going to camp for 3 days at Rampart Lakes. I hiked back with a guy named Jeff who was good company. He is the first guy I ever met that went to Appalachian State University. I remember them upsetting Michigan a few years ago in football which I loved as I don't like the Wolverines! Note: I noticed a path (that I didn't follow) that looked fairly distinct near the last forest clearing (on the way to Rachel Lake) that I believe might go to Highbox Peak. It was blocked with sticks and was a gravel path where it started out from the trail. I may have to go back and check it out. I'd like to give Highbox a try. It is tougher than Alta Mt.