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Trip Report

Rachel Lake, Alta Mountain

Snoqualmie Region

Trip Report By

100 

Hiked Sep 21, 2011

Type of Hike

Day 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.

Comments

Rachel Lake, Alta Mountain

Hi Tomas, the gravel trail you mentioned is not the Hibox trail, I'm not sure what it is, probably a creek bed? The Highbox turnoff is a little further on, in the woods after a clearing, and is an obvious dirt trail with no branches or anything blocking it. There is currently a red flag around a tree on the opposite side of the Rachel Lk trail marking the junction.

Posted by:


foxterrierguy on Sep 22, 2011 11:46 AM

Rachel Lake, Alta Mountain

FoxTerrierGuy:

Thanks for the info. I will keep all this filed away & would like to try Hibox next year. I get a little scared away by peaks that are off trail & appear to have a significant amount of route finding. Another reference I have been using for scrambles is 75 Scrambles in Washington by Peggy Goldman. It is no longer in print but I found it on Amazon. I especially like the authors preface, she's got really good opinions on all the benefits of hiking/scrambling/climibing. Having said that, there is nothing like a recent trail report & also just talking to somebody who happened to do a hike/scramble that you are interested in. Thanks for your informative trail reports over the years (you are the king of the I90 peaks) & have a good time on your trip.

Posted by:


Tomas on Sep 22, 2011 11:46 AM

Rachel Lake, Alta Mountain

Thanks for your report. I was planning to go to the Alta Mt peak last Saturday (9/17), but was raining and foggy, so went to the Lila lake and Rampart Lake instead. However, since weather was a little bit cool and rain, there was no bugs at all. By the way, I graduated from U of M. Well, I will try to go to the Alta Mt soon.

Posted by:


Chong Lee on Sep 22, 2011 11:49 AM

Rachel Lake, Alta Mountain

Chong Lee:

Hope I didn't cause any hurt feelings. I'm a big UW Dawg fan & over the years there's been some great battles between the 2 teams; thus my dislike (but respect) for the UM program.

What I really like about the Alta Mt hike is that it's all on trail/path that's fairly easy to stay with. Good luck.

Posted by:


Tomas on Sep 22, 2011 11:49 AM

Rachel Lake, Alta Mountain

“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.”

We saw the photo as well, a couple of weeks ago, in a plastic bag and stuck in the cairn, but did not give it too much thought.

With sadness I read later that the photo was in memory of “a super nice person, devoted mother, wife and accomplished outdoorsperson” who had died after a fall last June on Kaleetan. Someone had “left a photo in honor of Umbrella Lady under a block of rock on the summit of Alta, one of her favorite peaks.”
 
http://www.nwhikers.net/forums/viewtopic.php?p=743252

Posted by:


KnuteB on Sep 24, 2011 11:39 PM

Rachel Lake, Alta Mountain

Knute:

Thanks for the comment & info. I hadn't heard this story, quite moving. Makes me think back on a close call or 2 in the mts. Best wishes to her family.

T-

Posted by:


Tomas on Sep 24, 2011 11:39 PM